News Story

Why Do Complaints About Teachers’ Pay Never Say How Much They Get?

Maybe not getting rich, but it’s a long way from poverty

Teachers at Ann Arbor Public Schools have launched a campaign to get the word out that they are underpaid.

Some are taking to social media to complain about their pay, and others are doing it at a school board meeting.

Using the hashtag “PayUsLikeProfessionals,” the teachers union recently released a YouTube video highlighting first-grade teacher Amanda Houston.

In the video, Houston says she takes on additional duties at the district to earn extra pay because of the pay cuts and freezes teachers have experienced.

Like almost all public commentary on teacher salaries carried by the regular media or social media, the video never states how much Houston makes. She is in her ninth year of teaching.

Houston’s gross salary in 2013-14 was $64,761, and it rose to $79,846 in 2018-19. This amount would include extra pay for performing duties, but those amounts are no longer broken out separately in a state database.

In the video, Houston talked about the importance of taking on additional duties for additional pay. “It’s my top motivation. I need the money because of all our pay cuts and freezes. It’s the only reason I do those jobs,” she said.

The Ann Arbor school district recently released a listing of its full costs to employ a unionized schoolteacher for a year.

The average Ann Arbor teacher salary was $71,546 in 2017-18, the most recent year data is available from the Michigan Department of Education. The total cost to the district is much higher, however.

The final cost is different for each employee. Records received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request detailed these costs for some teachers at the Ann Arbor district. Here are the cost figures for one teacher who earned a gross salary of $82,173 in 2018.

The district paid $32,467 to the state to cover the cost of funding this individual’s pension and post-retirement health insurance benefits. The district also paid $13,350 for the teacher’s current-year health insurance, $1,634 for dental coverage, and another $316 for life insurance and a long-term disability policy. So, the total cost for employing that one teacher for one year was $135,343.