News Story

Teachers Who Talk Down Their Profession Often Don’t Mention The Benefits

A decent pension and good health coverage for life among them

In 2012, Craig Beach, then a Rockford Public Schools teacher, penned an op-ed for MLive declaring he would never let his children become educators.

Beach, who ran for the state Senate as a Democrat in 2018 and lost, has been one of many public school teachers to clamor about “extremely low pay.”

But what Beach did not include in his narrative is the compensation Michigan school employees receive in addition to their salary. For example, Beach is now retired and will collect a monthly pension check for the rest of his life, something not mentioned in his column seven years ago.

Beach stated he was a public school employee for 32 years. He earned a gross salary of $88,652 in 2018, his final year of teaching. A teacher who had been accruing pension benefits for that length of time and retires with a comparable salary is eligible to begin collecting an annual pension of $38,210, plus health insurance. Beach would have begun collecting this benefit at the age of 57.

School employees also earn Social Security benefits, which Beach (like all retired workers) can begin collecting at age 62. Those benefits will nearly double if he waits until age 70, however.

Beech and other retired Michigan school employees also get taxpayer-funded health, vision and dental insurance benefits for themselves and their spouse, with some cost sharing. A married teacher who retired after Jan. 1, 2013, pays $298.71 per month for coverage administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. After going on Medicare at age 65, the cost of a married teacher’s insurance drops to just $74.13 per month, which is deducted from that individual’s monthly pension checks.