When cost of living is taken into account, Michigan teachers’ pay, at an average salary of $61,560, is the highest in the country. In that state dollars go further, so the adjusted income is more like $64,937. Michigan spends about 30 percent of all education expenditures on teachers’ salaries. Last year state Superintendent of Education Mike Flanagan said he would like to see all full-time public school teachers make $100,000 a year. Such a salary, he said, would attract higher-quality teachers. But because of a struggling economy, educators in many districts have had to take pay cuts, and these salaries may not bounce back even as the economy improves. That’s because last year, Michigan became a so-called right-to-work state, weakening teachers unions and their bargaining power when negotiating contracts.
(Illustrated by Lauren Wade)