News Story

Teacher Quits, Rips GOP ‘Goons’ — Who Gave Her District $5.3 Million Extra Despite Fewer Students

Teacher claims to ‘barely scrape by’ on $63,100 salary

A Michigan teacher is receiving national media attention for going public with her resignation, claiming that “Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican goons took over Michigan and declared war on teachers.”

Plymouth-Canton teacher Stephanie Keiles penned her resignation “Why I Can No Longer Teach In Public Education,” which was picked up by MLive, The Washington Post and Huffington Post.

She claims there has been a “chronic, purposeful underfunding of public schools” and that she barely scrapes by on a $63,000-plus salary.

However, her district has received $5.3 million more in state funding spread over the last four budgets approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature than what it received in Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s last budget in 2010-11, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

The Plymouth-Canton school district received that extra $5.3 million (or an average of an additional $1.3 million each year) despite seeing an enrollment decline of 1,366 students in those four years. In Michigan, school funding is allocated largely on a per-pupil basis. Based on Plymouth-Canton's $7,201 per-pupil foundation allowance, a loss of 1,366 students in 2014-15 would equate to a loss of $9.9 million. But instead, the state pumped an extra $5.3 million into the district over those four years — a swing to the good of $15.2 million over the baseline of the last Granholm budget.

Also, Keiles claims “my take-home pay has been frozen or decreased for the past five years.” However, the school district said teachers received a pay raise in 2014-15. Keiles made a salary of $63,171 in 2013-14, according to a Freedom of Information Act request put in to the state. A Plymouth-Canton official confirmed all teachers received some sort of raise in 2014-15. In Keiles’ case, that would have been a half-step raise, which amounts to about $1,300. Keiles’ starting salary in 2006 would have been $39,954. In her nine years, Keiles’ pay would have increased by an estimated $24,500.

MLive, The Washington Post and Huffington Post all carried the op-ed. But none checked to see if the claims made by Keiles were accurate, or listed her teaching salary.

While Keiles claims that Republicans have underfunded schools, the state of Michigan has increased state dollars to K-12 education overall during Snyder's four budgets. And Keiles' district has been a benefactor.

Plymouth-Canton received $118.0 million in state funds in 2010-11 and had 18,873 students enrolled. The 2010-11 budget was the last under Granholm. It was a GOP controlled Legislature that increased state funds to Plymouth-Canton. The district received $118.5 million in 2011-12, $118.4 million in 2012-13, $119.3 million in 2013-14 and $121.5 million in 2014-15. The district’s enrollment had dropped to 17,507 in 2014-15.

Keiles also suffered from the rigid pay scale in the union-negotiated teachers contract, which starts all first-year teachers at the bottom regardless of their teaching prowess.

So Keiles, who started her first teaching job at age 40, had to start at the bottom of the scale. In Michigan, almost all teachers compensation is based on years of service and level of education attained.


See also:

A Closer Look At Teacher Salaries In Michigan

They Myth of Teacher Poverty