A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

At a recent rally where school employees called for an increase in state taxes, a representative of the Warren Education Association claimed that school revenues were in such disrepair that some students had to go without desks. A spokesperson from Warren Consolidated Schools denied this claim, but even if it were true, a few very minor policy changes well short of tax hikes would be all that is necessary to pay for many new desks.

According the the Warren district's collective bargaining agreement with teachers, the president of the local teachers union is paid the highest possible salary the contract will allow ($92,835), plus full fringe benefits. The union boss is also released from all teaching duties, meaning that the district pays this person not to instruct students but to conduct union business.

The vice president of the union is also released from teaching duties for half of each school day. To make up the slack, the district is forced to keep additional teachers on the payroll. Based on the average teacher salary in Warren of $73,421, this additional cost for providing release time to union officials would buy 1,380 new desks every year.

Many other school districts throughout the state subsidize union personnel costs by granting release time like this. But since the Warren district is supposedly unable to afford enough desks for its students, it should end this policy and use the money saved to benefit students.

Mackinac Center for Public Policy Director of Education Policy Audrey Spalding describes her latest study on right-to-work law violations in public school contracts and suggests why districts and unions are ignoring the law.


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