News Story

MEA President Repeats 'Disingenuous' Claim About Teacher Pay

Union says teacher with master's degree earns only $31,000; won't respond to verification requests

For the second time in a month, Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook claims there is a teacher in Michigan with a master’s degree making $31,000.

Cook made his assertion April 25 in a Detroit News column where he wrote that a Lenawee County teacher made $31,000 a year. In a March 28 column also in The Detroit News, Cook also claimed that teacher was in his second year on the job.

Michael Van Beek, education policy director at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, checked the salary schedules for the school districts in Lenawee County and said there was no full-time teacher making $31,000 with a master’s degree.

“The average teacher salary in Lenawee County in 2011 was $58,857, according to the Michigan Department of Education,” Van Beek said.

Blissfield has the lowest salary schedule for the first two years in the county. A teacher just starting with a master’s degree would earn $34,750. A teacher in the second year on the job would make $35,447 with a master’s degree. A teacher with a master's degree at the top of the scale would make $65,607.

Cook hasn’t responded to emails seeking comments.

State Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, said the MEA has been disingenuous in the past, but now that public schools are required to put union contracts online, it is easier to check the union’s claims.

“There was a time they could say stuff like that and nobody could verify [it],” McMillin said. “Nowadays, it can be proven factually. They are just not used to that. That used to work in a time when we didn’t have openness of government [and] you couldn’t check and verify. Maybe he is still living in that era.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.