Contents of this issue:
  • Average teacher pay up; Michigan ranks second nationwide

  • Report: Mixed progress on implementing No Child Left Behind Act

  • Plans for more charter schools may draw union lawsuit in Detroit

  • Improvement grants nearing approval for failing Michigan schools

  • State audit uncovers EMU construction scandal

  • Kerry receives AFT support, vows to increase education spending

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A report published by the American Federation of Teachers shows that average teacher salaries around the nation increased to $45,771 during the 2002-2003 school year, a 3.3 percent increase.

According to the report, Michigan ranks second among states in teacher pay, with an average salary of more than $54,000. Only California, with an average salary of nearly $55,700 per year, pays its teachers more. Average salaries for new teachers nationwide rose by 3.2 percent during the same period.

Officials with the AFT said even with the overall rise in teacher pay, increased expenses, such as the cost of health care, negate higher salaries. "Compensation packages are nothing short of insulting," said union secretary-treasurer Edward McElroy. According to the AFT's own analysis, these costs brought the actual increase down to 2.5 percent. Inflation during the same period was 2.1 percent, according to government statistics.

While most teachers are paid based upon seniority and education, some districts are implementing merit pay systems where teachers receive higher salaries based on performance.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Average teacher pay moves up modestly, nears $46,000," July 15, 2004 aplocal_story.asp?category=6420&slug=Teacher%20Salaries

Detroit News, "Teacher salaries second in nation," July 16, 2004

Michigan Education Report, "Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality: How Do They Relate?" Spring 1999

Michigan Education Report, "Increase teachers' pay the right way," Early Fall 2000

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An independent study of the states' implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act reported mixed progress with the act's student and teacher accountability provisions. In Michigan, some systems required by the act were still missing.

The act instituted federal accountability standards for all states when it was signed into law in 2002. The study, performed by the Education Commission of the States, reports that most states are "on track" to meeting 75 percent of the act's 40 major requirements, and that all states now have systems to track student progress.

Still, many states lack ways to ensure that all teachers meet high qualification standards. David Plank, co-director of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University, said that the current system of ranking teachers by seniority and not by performance is "exactly backwards of what ought to happen. ... Qualified teachers should be encouraged and rewarded for teaching in the most challenging schools." The ECS report recommends that states get rid of systems that declare senior teachers highly qualified without regard to performance.

According to the study, Michigan is one of those states "on track" to meeting many requirements, but it lacks ways to measure teacher quality. Only 22 percent of states meet this requirement.

Detroit News, "Schools get mixed grades on 'No Child' law," July 15, 2004

Christian Science Monitor, "How school reform is altering classrooms," July 15, 2004

Education Commission of the States, "ECS Report to the Nation: State Implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act," July 2004 reporttothenation/reporttothenation.htm

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002

DETROIT, Mich. — Central Michigan University is taking applications from groups interested in starting charter high schools, using a year-old state law that allows up to 15 new charter schools to open in Detroit. The Detroit Federation of Teachers, a school employees union, announced it would pursue legal action against the proposed new charters on unspecified grounds.

The law allowing the new schools passed last fall after philanthropist Bob Thompson offered $200 million to help open new charter high schools in the city. Political backlash and manipulation of the plan in Lansing forced Thompson to withdraw the offer, but the law still stands.

DFT representatives have said in the past that charter schools drain resources from the current Detroit public school system, which is struggling. Jim Goenner, director of CMU's charter school program, defended the university's decision to pursue the option to open more schools.

"Our commitment is to quality education, and we don't view this as an 'us-vs.-them' situation," Goenner told the Detroit News. "We view this as the best opportunity to help create the best educational options for Detroit parents and their children."

Grand Valley State University is also looking into opening charter schools in the city. According to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, nearly 100 percent of charters in Detroit maintain waiting lists.

Detroit News, "Detroit schools fret as charters expand," July 15, 2004

Detroit News, "Charter plans may face suit," July 18, 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "When Will Conventional Public Schools Be As Accountable as Charters?" July 2004

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Time to Stop Beating Up on Charter Schools," November 2002

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "The Impact of Limited School Choice on Public School Districts," July 2000

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Education reports it is nearly finished approving plans for $45,000 grants intended to help improve schools that are defined as "failing" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In keeping with the act, over 100 schools in Michigan identified as failing must draw up plans to use the grants in ways that would improve their performance. The plans must range from altering curricula to replacing teachers and administrators to placing the school under state control, depending on the severity of the school's problems.

Several districts had their proposals returned after the state education department rejected their plans to use the grants to send teachers and administrators to conferences in Las Vegas and Colorado. "That is not something we would approve," said Linda Brown, assistant director of the Michigan Department of Education's Office of School Improvement.

Schools are classified as failing if they do not make adequate yearly progress under federal Department of Education guidelines. Once schools receive the failing classification, they must immediately improve or face sanctions.

Booth Newspapers, "Improvement plans OK'd for troubled schools," July 16, 2004 1089925802314270.xml

Michigan Education Report, "President signs 'No Child Left Behind Act,'" Winter 2002

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A state audit of the construction of a new president's house at Eastern Michigan University uncovered cost overruns, cover-ups and bookkeeping irregularities adding up to several million dollars.

During the construction of the house, university officials maintained that the building cost $3.5 million and that no tuition money was used to fund the 10,500 square-foot home. But the 36-page state audit reported that the actual cost was $6 million, with bookkeeping shifts hiding miscellaneous construction costs.

An earlier, EMU audit of the project had not gone into detail regarding many of the expenditures made by the university, such as credit card purchases of furnishings, change orders for security and audio systems, a $76,000 professional kitchen and hundreds of thousands of dollars taken from debt-refinancing accounts.

University officials had also failed to disclose that the house was a financial loss. As recently as March, university President Samuel Kirkpatrick stated that the school had turned a profit on the building.

David Rutledge, a Democrat running for the 54th District state House seat, told Booth Newspapers that "this was a comedy of errors. This is the type of thing that happens when you do not put people with leadership skills in leadership positions."

Ann Arbor News, "EMU's image tarnished," July 18, 2004 1090145582237220.xml

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, received the support of the American Federation of Teachers at the union's biennial convention, where he promised to increase federal spending on education by nearly $27 billion if elected.

In his speech before the convention delegates, Kerry derided President George W. Bush for failing to "fully fund" programs required by the No Child Left Behind Act, which Bush signed into law in 2002. Sen. Kerry also announced plans to raise teacher pay in low-income areas experiencing teacher shortages.

The AFT said it plans to help Kerry's campaign by assigning paid staff members to hotly contested states and volunteer staff to other functions.

Kerry has supported merit pay for teachers, which would determine pay scales based upon student performance, instead of seniority. The union opposes merit pay, however, and says it plans to negotiate with the Senator on the issue.

The National Education Association, the nation's largest school employees union, endorsed Kerry at its national convention last week.

Boston Globe, "As expected, AFT backs John Kerry bid," July 16, 2004 kerry_promises_teachers_big_spending/

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Will More Money Improve Student Performance?" June 1998

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "More Spending Not the Solution to School Woes,"
December 1993

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, a quarterly newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Neil Block at

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