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Should Michigan Teachers Be Paid Like Blue Collar Workers or NBA Stars?

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On December 15, 2012 @ 10:38 am In The Point | 37 Comments

As Michigan union thugs run riot, it might be time for another look at the biggest union drain on Michigan taxpayer. Its teachers.

52 dollars of every 1,000 dollars of personal income in Michigan is vacuumed up by Michigan’s corrupt and broken school system. And that’s especially outrageous because Michigan ranks 11th in teacher salaries but only 36th in personal income.

The average Michigan teacher salary was $56,096 in 2010 while average household income was $45,255. In the United States the average public school teacher salary was $52,800 while the average household income was $50,221. Teacher salaries are still, predictably, higher than household income, but the gap between the teachers and the workers is less outrageous than it is in Michigan.

The tired line of teacher worshipers is that we need to pay “our” teachers like we pay NBA stars. That’s not too far off. The minimum NBA starting salary is $473,604. Meanwhile over 300 Michigan teachers make over $100,000 a year and administrators score in the $156,00 range.

The question is how are working class families in Michigan supposed to subsidize these public employee salaries?

“While few suggest that teacher incomes should take the same downward spiral as blue-collar workers’, most recognize that some cuts are mandatory”, a Detroit News story says.  But why shouldn’t the salaries of public employees be pegged to the salaries of the people paying their salary? And is there any other way that a huge group of public employees can continue to be subsidized by taxpayers?

Why shouldn’t teachers in a blue collar state be paid at the level of blue collar workers? The answer is that degree creep means that a sizable number of teachers now have Masters’ Degrees and expect to be paid accordingly.

In the Troy schools, a 25-year teacher with a master’s degree and 30 extra hours of education can make $99,528.

“I think it’s way over the top,” said Troy resident Jim Grix, a retired industrial services salesman. “We’ve had these huge pay adjustments (during the recession). I think it has to filter down to everything.”

Do teachers need master’s degrees to do a worse version of the same job that their predecessors in the 50s did with a much more basic education?

80-90 percent of school budgets are going into the insatiable maw of the teachers’ unions. And that is just not sustainable.

Hess and others dismiss fears that a reduction in pay will lower teacher quality. For teachers making $80,000, a 5 percent cut would put them at $76,000. Factor in an increase in health care costs and they could be paying another $3,000 in health care premiums, bringing them to $73,000. That’s a significant drop — but far below what many manufacturing workers saw as their pay was cut from $29 an hour to $14 — or worse, to no job at all.

Why should blue collar workers be forced to subsidize this nightmare anyway… especially when the results of this budget bloat look like this?

Statewide in Michigan, only 32 percent of public-school eighth graders scored grade-level proficient or better in reading, and only 31 percent scored grade-level proficient or better in math.

Over the past decade, Michigan’s public school have shown no improvement at all in teaching children how to read. In 2002 just as in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 32 percent of Michigan public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading.

It’s bad enough that 80-90 percent of education spending is going to teachers in a state where the money is running low, but it’s worse when the teachers get about the same results as putting babysitters in the classroom would.


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