News Story

Teachers Spin Low Pay Horror Stories, But Actual Figures Are Public Records

Claims mislead public on important public policy issue

A teacher at the Utica public school district in Macomb County recently posted an image of himself on Facebook, holding a paper that claimed he lost $68,900 in salary due to contract concessions.

Jonathan Marceau, a fourth grade teacher, published the post on Nov. 3 and later said he had chosen to make it public, meaning it can be seen by anyone. The post has been shared 317 times as of Nov. 25.

Marceau’s salary was $73,878 in 2013-14, and it increased to $84,104 in 2018-19. The local Utica teachers union is currently negotiating a new contract with pay increases. Marceau is a trustee with the teachers union.

Marceau’s Facebook post has attracted the attention of other public school teachers from around the state, with some adding comments on their own compensation and the issue of teacher pay in general.

Here are some of those comments, with the individual’s actual compensation. These figures, which can be found on a database maintained by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, include base pay plus extra pay teachers can earn for taking on additional duties. Michigan Capitol Confidential has truncated the last names of the respondents, whose full names can be seen on the actual Facebook thread.

Susan D: My husband and I are both educators (East China and Utica) we have taken 11 years of pay/benefit cuts. Our highest pay was back in 2008. It is hard to raise a family when dealing with such cuts.

Actual pay: Susan D’s total salary was $76,703 in 2013-14, which increased to $80,234 in 2018-19. Susan D’s spouse made $77,307 in 2013-14 and $74,740 in 2018-19. The combined gross salary for the couple would have been $154,974 in 2018-19.

Jenny S: I retired last year from Warren because with 10 years of pay cuts I could make almost as much retired as I did teaching.

Actual pay: Jenny S’ total salary was $96,595 in 2013-14; it increased to $108,875 in 2018-19.

Julie W: When Romulus FINALLY got a contract after a nearly 10 year wage freeze, my sign read “wages lost $209,000. With over 20 years experience I got stuck at $52,000 forever!! It totally sucked! I completely sympathize with you and the outstanding educators in Utica! “Enough is ENOUGH!’

Actual pay: Julie W’s total salary has increased from $54,326 in 2013-14 to $63,270 in 2018-19.

Lori L: I make less now as a 29th year teacher than I did as a 12th year teacher because we took concessions that “you will definitely get back.” Right. Fight on, my brothers and sisters!

Actual pay: Lori L’s total salary was $81,544 in 2013-14; it increased to $89,964 in 2018-19.

Jennifer M: Michigan Educators, Parents, Students, etc...ALL NEED TO WALK! Problem is...Not all stand with Detroit! We saw that in 2008 when Lansing took over DPS. We protested over and over in Lansing, in front of the Fisher Bldg, etc...Detroit is still the largest District in this State. Any action will need ALL Michigan educators-especially those in DPS. MEA and AFT need to listen to it’s membership!!! I resigned last Thursday from DPSCD as the demands, lack of pay, NO preps, depleted sub pool due to over 300+ teacher vacancies, etc...EDUCATORS IN DPS/DPSCD ARE LITERALLY DYING!!! Cancer, PTSD,...

Actual pay: Jennifer M’s total salary was $66,607 in 2013-14; it increased to $67,414 in 2018-19.

Jeffrey W: If you wanted to make money then don’t become a teacher

Jonathan Marceau: Jeffrey W just because I'm not in one of the higher-salary fields doesn’t mean that my work should be disrespected with a lack of compensation.

Facts: Marceau’s gross salary of $84,104 in 2018-19 was 36% higher than the statewide average teacher pay of $61,908 in 2017-18, the most recent year average salaries are available.

Union administrators and school officials in Michigan periodically advance an inaccurate narrative about stagnant teacher pay and school funding cuts. Results of a March 2014 poll taken in the midst of one such campaign revealed that residents were buying that false narrative. The poll found that 54% of respondents believed that school funding had been decreased under then-Gov. Rick Snyder, even though school funding had increased.

That narrative is again being pressed today by teachers on social media and by a mainstream media that frequently repeats such claims by teachers but does not verify their accuracy.