Low teacher salaries creating statewide shortage - WNEM TV 5

Low teacher salaries creating statewide shortage

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Critics argue recent changes to teacher salaries and benefits is driving young people to reconsider the profession or leave Michigan to find work.

"We have seen a constant attack on teacher pay and teacher benefit packages," said Frank Burger, president of the Carman-Ainsworth Education Association.

He said teachers across Michigan have been getting slammed since 2010 and it's impacting their ability to serve students.

In his district alone, teachers salaries were rolled back by 5 percent.

"Teachers now have to pay 20 percent of our healthcare. That's a new law," Burger said.

Salary schedules are also frozen, preventing teachers from moving up the ladder. In some cases, causing them to leave local districts.

"I have seen salary teachers leave my district this summer to go to other districts just to get more money because you know, it's a competitive market," Burger said.

In Flint, Superintendent Bilal Tawwab can only offer starting teachers a base salary in the low to mid 30s. He said that hasn't stopped people from applying.

"There have been numerous candidates who've come to the district wanting to be in Flint Community Schools, wanting to be a part of the work," Tawwab said.

Salaries continue to be a key issue facing urban districts like Flint.

"Being able to compete with other districts where the salaries, the starting salaries are much higher. That's our challenge," Tawwab said.

Tawwab has taken matters into his own hands, seeking to build partnerships with area universities to create a pipeline that would attract new teachers. Retaining that talent is another challenge.

"Even within the 21 school districts in Genesee County, you see teachers moving from one district to another. Even if they can pick up, if it's $1,000 more on the salary schedule," Burger said.

The average salary for a teacher in Michigan is nearly $62,000. For those with less than five years of classroom experience the average falls dramatically to $38,000.

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