Flint teachers skip school as student proficiency hits single digits

This was a bad time for a teacher strike

Flint Community Schools canceled school March 13 after 119 teachers did not show up for work.

Although teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan, the teachers chose to call in sick as a form of protest over a dispute over pay between the district and the teachers union. The average teacher salary in Flint is $67,483, according to the Michigan Department of Education 2022-23 State Bulletin.

Flint schools were among the last to reopen in the state following COVID-19 shutdowns. The district was flush with cash just two years ago, when it received $51,193 per pupil in COVID relief funds – more than any other district in the state and among the top in the nation.

The district gave each employee a $20,500 bonus, as previously reported by CapCon. It also bought 7,200 Chromebooks and iPads, even though there were only 2,989 students at the time.

The Independent Women’s Forum recently reported on the sick day protest.

“The Flint teachers union made it clear with last week’s ‘sick out’ and school board protest that union leaders selfishly intend to harm Flint’s students by shutting down schools with an illegal strike,” wrote Ginny Gentles, an education specialist at the forum.

“Flint’s teachers are compensated better than most teachers in the state, while students’ proficiency rates are in the single digits,” Gentles added.

Caring and dedicated teachers deserve to be well-compensated, Gentles wrote, and employees need to stop skipping school and focus on educating students.

Only 6.9% of the district’s third grade students scored proficient on the English language part of the latest M-STEP (the state’s standardized test), according to the Annual Education Report of the Michigan Department of Education. Students did even worse in math, with only 3.6% testing as proficiency.

Even though students have low academic outcomes, the average teacher salary in Flint is ranked 143 out of 699 school districts in Michigan. That means there are 556 districts in the state which have lower average teacher pay than Flint teachers.

The graduation rate for the district in 2023 was 35%, according to MI School Data.

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.