Higher teacher pay is order of the day in some Michigan schools  ⋆

As the 2022-23 Michigan public school year comes to an end, some districts are increasing teacher pay as a way to get educators to stay. 

In a 2022 survey conducted by the Michigan Education Association (MEA), 20% of Michigan teachers and staff reported that they plan to leave the profession – and compensation was a significant factor.’’ In Michigan, the starting teacher salary averages $38,963, compared to $42,844 nationally. 

MEA President Paula Herbart on March 15, 2023. (Andrew Roth/)

MEA President Paula Herbart said the survey confirmed that “Michigan’s teachers, support staff and other public school employees are at a breaking point. 

“The educator shortage is having a daily impact on students and educators alike. This is adding to the already overwhelming pressure caused by meeting students’ academic, social and emotional needs while also dealing with COVID-19, unfair evaluations, standardized testing, the threat of school violence and so much more,” she said.

State leaders have been looking to address the teacher shortage and provide support. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed in her Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget $195 million she says will help recognize the “crucial role high-quality teachers play in the success of their students.” It includes continuation of the MI Future Educator Fellowship program, which provides a tuition-free avenue for college students to become certified teachers. The Whitmer budget continues to provide $25 million for that effort and $50 million for Student Teacher Stipends.

The budget proposal also includes additional dollars to retain and develop existing teachers through mentorship programs and to provide support through a new educator workforce consortium that was established in an FY 2023 supplemental spending bill. To address the difficulty in attracting teachers in rural areas, the proposal includes rural educator hubs to support teacher recruitment and retention in those areas.

Whitmer and legislative leaders will need to negotiate a final budget plan. The next fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

In the meantime, some school districts are have their own initiatives.

Battle Creek Public Schools (BCPS) on Wednesday announced it has reached an agreement on a new pay scale with the Battle Creek Education Association (BCEA) union representing teachers in the district. Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, all teachers will receive an average increase of more than $10,000 to their salary at each job level. 

With the new agreement in place, the average BCEA teacher salary will increase from $56,800 to $68,300 beginning in the 2023-2024 school year. The starting pay for BCPS teachers will increase from $40,170 to $50,000, positioning BCPS as one of the highest-paying districts for new teachers in all of Southwest Michigan. 

“Teachers are the heart and soul of the district,” said Kimberly Carter, BCPS superintendent. “Everything that we do for our students begins with teachers, and we will continue to invest in them to ensure that together we are creating the conditions for success that our students need and deserve.”

In 2017, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided the school district with a $51 million investment in support of a district transformation initiative focused on addressing opportunity gaps and reducing barriers to success for children in the community. The district is drawing on that funding to increase teacher pay.

“Today is a fantastic day to be a Battle Creek Public Schools teacher,” said Anthony Pennock, BCEA president. “Together, we know this agreement and significant increase will help attract new teachers to the district and support our current members while honoring the commitment they have made to all of our students. This would not have been possible even four years ago, and we are elated to be in a situation where we can be a part of life-changing history for our BCPS teachers.”

Meanwhile, the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences (DAAS) announced an ambitious innovation on Thursday. Teachers in the charter school will be paid a $100,000 salary as part of its Best-in-Class program. All full time staff are eligible for DAAS’ full benefits package, which includes medical, dental, and vision, long & short term disability, life insurance and an option for 401(k) coverage with an employer match of up to 7%. 

The goal, officials said, is to hire 18 teachers at the higher pay rate — among the highest teacher pay of any district in the state in time for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

“Every child deserves to be taught by a best-in-class teacher,” Maurice Morton, district CEO, said during a news conference held at the school.  “By creating strong criteria to measure excellence for teachers and investing in their growth with a best in class compensation plan, we believe that we will have a profound impact on the educational outcomes for the children we serve.”

Teachers in the district currently earn anywhere from $49,000 to $72,000, based on experience, level of education, and the grade level to which they teach. Funds for the higher pay will come from reallocation of portions of the district’s budget.


The Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences (DAAS) held a press conference on Thursday to announce the launch of an innovative approach in Michigan to address the shortage of certified teachers. | DAAS photo

To qualify for the $100,000 pay, teachers must meet a strict criteria: They must have at least 5 or more years of experience in the classroom as a lead teacher/teacher of record, at least two years of a highly effective rating in the most recent 3-year period in the Michigan Online Education Certification System, possession of valid Michigan Teacher Certification, and demonstration of an impact on scholar outcomes, professionalism, commitment to equity, and family and community engagement. If hired, the teacher would be eligible for a three-year contract, and would be required to maintain the ratings.

In addition to the Battle Creek school district and DAAS announcements, Teach for America Detroit is expanding across the state, aiming to recruit, retain and develop more than 700 trained educators for low-income schools in five Michigan communities, the organization announced Thursday.

It has launched TeachMichigan, a talent strategy that will bring investment and enrichment to support high-impact educators and their students in under-resourced schools among five new Michigan communities across the state: Kentwood, Saginaw, Sault Saint Marie and Traverse City and Benzie County. 

Its goal is to recruit, retain and develop more than 700 high impact teachers and improve the outcomes for 250,000 students in under-resourced schools statewide over the next five years.

The TeachMichigan program is adapted from the work TFA Detroit has done with educator fellowships since 2019 that has resulted in an over 95% retention rate among high-impact educators in Detroit schools. 

TeachMichigan fellows who work in partnering schools serving high numbers of economically disadvantaged children will be eligible to receive up to $35,000 over three years as they invest in their education careers, as well as receive an average of 10 hours per month in professional development and individualized coaching and engagement activities with other fellows.

Fellows will participate in one of three cohorts: early career educators, focused on newer educators seeking to strengthen their skills in the classroom; nationally board-certified educators, focused on more tenured educators looking to pursue certification; and aspiring leaders, for experienced teachers seeking to take on a more administrative or supervisory role in a school or school system.

“The problems facing our educators and students are not a people problem, they’re a systems problem,” said Armen Hratchian, TFA Detroit executive director. “TeachMichigan is directly investing in educators and leaders in systemically under-resourced communities because we know those are the people who are best positioned to change the long-term outcomes for our kids, and to build better systems for all teachers to be more valued.”

authored by Ken Coleman
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2023%2F05%2F31%2Fhigher-teacher-pay-is-order-of-the-day-in-some-michigan-schools%2F

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