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Teacher pay in Michigan isn’t just stagnating — on average, it’s declining

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The average Michigan teacher made $61,908 last year — $700 less than in 2011. When you account for inflation, that’s a decline of more than $6,200.

Those numbers, recently released by the state department of education, are bad news for anyone concerned about Michigan’s declining academic performance.

Low pay is a big reason teachers change jobs so frequently in Michigan, and it help explains why so many new teachers — an estimated 1 in 5 — quit the profession within five years. Researchers agree that teacher turnover hurts student learning. The state’s teacher workforce numbers around 100,000 today. It declined about 16 percent in the last decade as the student population also shrank.

Declining salaries may also explain why teacher training programs are struggling to find new applicants. With the number of new teaching certificates steadily declining, some experts worry the classroom vacancies that plague some urban districts could eventually spread across the state.

Anger over pay has pushed educators across the country to strike, but there hasn’t been a sign of that yet in Michigan, perhaps because the average teacher here still makes more than the national average of roughly $58,000.

State policymakers are still debating what to do — if anything — to improve conditions for teachers. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to send an additional $507 million in state funds to schools next year, some of which could be used to increase teacher salaries. But her proposed budget needs the support of the Republican-controlled legislature, whose members have vociferously opposed the gas tax hike that would pay for many of Whitmer’s ideas.

Scroll down to see the average teacher salary in your school district.

Note: Average salary is shaped in part by the experience of teachers in a district. A district with more veteran teachers might pay more on average than a district with less experienced teachers. These numbers may be deceptively high in districts where administrators are also listed as teachers. Figures aren’t available for many charter schools because they often pay teachers through private management companies that aren’t subject to the Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act.

Source: Michigan Department of Education Bulletin 1014.

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