News Story

College Instructors Not Getting Rich, But Downtrodden A Stretch

$69k community college instructor, union president laments poor pay in newspaper essay

A community college professor and president of the local faculty union recently co-authored an op-ed that talked about poor pay and poor working conditions for teachers. It was published on the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s website and more recently on the Michigan Education Association's website.

Brandon Everest is a social science instructor at Northwestern Michigan College. With his co-author Carolyn Moss, a registered nurse, he opened the op-ed by disputing the local phrase “a view of the bay is half the pay.”

“On behalf of everyone who experiences the impact, we beg to differ,” the op-ed stated. “Employees in Traverse City scorn the notion that location is an excuse for poor pay and poorer working conditions, and many of us stand our ground. ... As unionists maintain, economic inequality threatens not only to the American dream but our democracy. This is true across the country and our community.”

Everest made $69,723 in 2017-18 at Northwestern Michigan College. One math professor at the community college had a gross salary of $101,359 in 2017-18, according to state records.

Northwestern Michigan College is located within the jurisdiction of the Traverse City Area Public Schools district, which had 487 full-time K-12 teaching positions in 2018-19. Its instructors are represented by the Michigan Education Association.

Average teacher salary in the district was $63,322 in 2017-18, although teachers with more seniority and academic credentials can make a good deal more. But for many public school teachers, the benefits are just as valuable.

At Traverse City schools, if employees choose a higher deductible on their health care insurance benefit, they eliminate any co-pays or pay-period deductions. For an example, a Traverse City teacher could get regular health insurance and not pay anything for it by choosing the $1,000 deductible. The school district also would contribute $3,180 a year into that teacher’s health savings account, meaning that the teacher was getting health insurance with no out-of-pocket costs.

According to the state of Michigan, the top paid teacher at Traverse City’s school district made $91,488 in 2017-18. That included extra pay for accepting duties outside the contract, a common way for teachers to add to their income.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Traverse City was $53,327 from 2013 to 2017.

Everest didn’t return an email seeking comment.