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New report reveals long-term salary slide for MI teachers


Teachers in Michigan are taking home less pay than they did in past years, according to new research from Michigan State University. The average annual salary of almost $65,000 for a Michigan teacher is similar to the pay in nearby states, although it is slightly below the national average. Researchers found a significant decline in teacher pay over the past two decades, when adjusted for inflation.

Jason Burns, report lead author and research specialist at M.S.U.'s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative said the there are several factors involved.

"It's hard to point to a single, specific thing - it's like, 'This is the smoking gun,' kind of. In a lot of ways, what it comes down to is, Michigan just hasn't invested in education as much as a lot of other states have," he said.

Burns added until 2000, Michigan was one of the top-paying states for educators. But now, it's around 16th or 17th - due to an approximate 20% decline in inflation-adjusted salaries.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recommended retention bonuses for teachers last year, but they didn't make it into the final state budget.

The report said mid-career teaching professionals earn about one-third less than other college graduates. Burns said for new teachers, fresh out of college, the steep salary decline could prompt them to look elsewhere for employment.

"In 2021-22, Michigan was ranked 39th in terms of average starting teacher salary. And there's another year of data that's come out of course since we drafted the report, and Michigan has fallen two more spots," he said.

A public survey, also by the M.S.U. collaborative, shows most Michigan residents think starting salaries for teachers should be increased by about $10,000.

Burns added there is reason to be optimistic - because teacher compensation can be bipartisan.

"Like, when you look at state governors that have taken up this issue, and you look at state legislatures that have taken up this issue, it's been a really bipartisan set of folks that are looking to take action on the issue of teacher compensation. And so, I think that means that, at least politically speaking, there's probably more opportunity there than maybe there has been in the past," he explained.

This year's final state budget included enough for Michigan school districts to give teachers $600 to $800 more per year.

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