Union Contracts Stand in the Way of the Best Teachers Making $100,000

It is a worthy goal

A news story posted on Michigan Radio's website reports that more and more U.S. teachers make $100,000 a year.

“Sure, $100,000 doesn't put you up there with hedge-fund managers," the article says. "But it's still good money. ... So what's new? A growing number of districts are looking to change that pay structure. The goal: Give teachers, even younger teachers, the chance to earn more. Reward them not for seniority or advanced degrees, but for how well they teach."

It then quotes Dick Startz, an economist with the University of California, Santa Barbara: "If we want a large set of people to do a job relatively well, we have to pay them relatively well."

ForTheRecord says: Extraordinary teachers should make $100,000 or more a year. In Michigan, there are obstacles to that becoming a reality.

Start with the teachers unions standing in the way by demanding — and getting — pay scales based almost exclusively on seniority and academic credentials.

Also, many public school administrators have failed to implement meaningful teacher evaluations, which are necessary for a valid merit pay system. For example, Detroit Public Schools recently made national news for being the worst-performing big city school district in the country in math and reading. But the district's administrators deemed 8 out of 10 Detroit teachers to be "highly effective," the highest grade. Detroit is not the only Michigan school district to produce head-scratching teacher evaluations.

Since 2010, Michigan state law has required all public schools to implement a merit pay system, but it does not specify what this must include. Five years later, very few school districts have adopted a meaningful merit pay system for teachers.