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A Closer Look At Teacher Salaries In Michigan

Teachers getting younger, more charter school educators help account for drop in average salary

Public school teacher salaries have dropped 8 percent from 1999-00 to 2012-13 when factoring in inflation, according to an MLive story.

However, the data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics includes charter public school teachers’ salaries, which are considerably lower than conventional public school teachers, and doesn’t mention a recent exodus of the state’s oldest — and highest paid — teachers.

The article stated: “When converted to 2013 dollars, Michigan teachers were earning an average $67,148 in 1999-2000, compared to an actual average for 2012-2013 of $61,560.”

Here’s a closer look at the salary data.

Teachers in conventional public schools have their salaries determined by their union in negotiations with school boards that use a salary schedule based on years of service and level of education.

For example, in the fall of 2005, a teacher with a bachelor’s degree just starting out in the Warren Consolidated School District made $41,240, according to the union contract. That same teacher in the fall of 2012 would have earned $66,735, a $25,495 increase over seven years.

The data also includes charter public school salaries, said David Thomas, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education. The average salary for a charter public school teacher was $42,864 in 2011-12 and the average salary for conventional school teachers was $63,094

Charter public school teachers makes less in part because they don’t have as many years of experience as their conventional school district colleagues, said Gary Naeyaert, executive director of the Great Lakes Education Project.

There also are more charter public school teachers today than in years past, which also affects salary data. In 1999-2000, there were 173 charter schools. That number increased to 276 charter schools in 2012-13.

Also, there were several thousand less of the state’s oldest — and highest paid — teachers in 2012 than in 1999, according to the state of Michigan.

In 2006 (as far back as the state of Michigan data goes), 33 percent of the state’s 111,705 teachers were 50 years old or older. By 2012, 28 percent of the state’s 102,208 teachers were 50 and older. Many of the highest paid teachers in their district had left. In 2010, the state offered an early retirement package to teachers.

At the same time, 2000 to 2010 often is referred to as the "lost decade” in Michigan. The median family income in Michigan in 2000 was $44,667, which would have been $59,554 in 2012 dollars. The actual median family income in 2012 was $46,859, which is a 21.3 decrease compared to 2000 when factoring in inflation.

“Because of the changing composition of public education, using an average of teacher salaries does not provide any information on whether any individual teacher has taken any pay cuts,” said James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Even so, Michigan’s schools were comparatively protected as the state economy struggled from 2000 to 2009.”

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See also:

Average Teacher Salaries Climb

Union Salary Schedule Ensures State 'Teacher of the Year' Earns Near Bottom In Pay

Helpful Facts About Michigan's Public Sector

Meet James Hohman, Assistant Director of Fiscal Policy at the Mackinac Center. James discusses his latest project, an analysis of Proposal 1, the proposal on personal property tax reform that will appear on the August 5th ballot. Read more about Proposal 1 here: http://www.mackinac.org/20246


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