News Story

Teacher Wears Pizza Uniform From Second Job To Protest Pay

His annual salary? $83k

Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher Jeff Kass came to the district’s board meeting May 24 dressed in the uniform he wears while working a second job at a pizza restaurant.

According to the website AnnArbivore, Kass said he wore the uniform to represent all the teachers who have to work second jobs to make their mortgage payments.

“He is going to tell the truth of what it feels like to be a 50 y/o man who has to sling pizza to make ends meet while still teaching,” AnnArbivore reported. The website reports that Kass received a standing ovation.

What it did not report was that the Ann Arbor school system paid Kass $83,155 in 2015-16, up 5 percent from two years earlier, according a state teacher salary database. The median family income in Ann Arbor for 2015 was $55,590, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The average teacher salary in Michigan was $61,875 in 2015-16, and $71,564 in the Ann Arbor school district. Figures from the current year are not yet available.

“When you quote the statewide average for teacher salaries, are you quoting the statewide average for teachers with 20 years experience and two masters degrees?” Kass said in an email. “And how does it compare, for that matter, to any worker in any field with two masters degrees and 20 years experience? Or to teachers with similar experience and level of education in, say, a state like Massachusetts where educational outcomes seem to be much better than in Michigan?”

The average salary of Massachusetts teachers was $73,844 in 2013-14, the most recent year data is available from the National Education Association, which has tracked state teacher pay figures for many years. In 2014-15, there were 14 Massachusetts school districts where teachers averaged $90,000 or more, according to that state’s education department.

Ann Arbor Public Schools also complies with the letter of a Michigan merit pay law by giving an extra $150 to teachers who qualify. The law requires district to include “job performance and job accomplishments as a significant factor in determining compensation and additional compensation.”

Kass said his take-home pay is a little more than $4,000 a month after health care and retirement deductions are taken out.

“That’s by no means terrible, but it does necessitate additional income in order for my family to pay its bills,” Kass said.

If Kass lives in city of Ann Arbor itself, he is in a place where home prices are among the highest in the state.

The average price paid for an Ann Arbor home was $285,171 in 2016. That was exceeded only by Grosse Pointe, where the average home sold for $314,864 last year. The average home price statewide was $154,133, according to Michigan Realtors.

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.