Report finds Michigan public teacher salaries continue to decline amid growing teacher shortage

Michigan Education Association calls for reinvesting in Michigan students, teachers and support staff

EAST LANSING – New data from the National Education Association’s annual Rankings and Estimates report found average salary for teachers declined last year, continuing the 12% decline over the last decade when adjusted for inflation. Only Indiana, West Virginia and Wisconsin have had worse declines in teacher pay during this period.

“Far too many educators are struggling with low and declining pay, and this is especially the case in Michigan, where teachers have seen declines in pay for the past decade,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “One in five teachers leave the profession within the first five years, and to break that trend we need to boost investments in our schools and teachers.”

Stagnant and declining starting salaries for teachers and the increasing cost of college have become a deterrent for young people considering the profession. Starting teacher salaries in Michigan rank 32nd in the nation. Nationwide, 37% of districts have a starting salary of at least $40,000, yet in Michigan, only 12% of districts meet that threshold. Moreover, between 2008 and 2016, Michigan colleges of education experienced a 66 percent decrease in enrollment, which is the lowest level ever recorded.

“We are in the midst of a teacher shortage as many school districts across the state are having a hard time filling positions, and with declining teacher pay, that will only get worse,” said Herbart. “All students deserve a high-quality education, and that begins with adequately funding our schools and reinvesting in our teachers and support professionals.”

A decline in public school funding has correlated with declining teacher salaries. According to a report released last year by the School Finance Research Collaborative, Michigan schools are underfunded by at least $2,000 per pupil each year. As part of her budget proposal, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is seeking $507 million to invest in students, public school teachers and support professionals.

“These statistics should serve as a wake-up call for lawmakers that now is the time to invest in our kids and public schools,” said Herbart. “Gov. Whitmer’s proposal puts Michigan’s students and educators first and we urge lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support her in reinvesting in our schools.”

A guest column by Paula Herbart on Michigan’s teacher shortage and declining pay for public school teachers ran in yesterday’s edition of the Detroit News.

Contact: Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs, 517-337-5508


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