If only we paid teachers more, I bet we could get that number up to 8 percent. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like if you’re going to leave work on a labor protest, you should at least make sure that 1 in 10 of your students isn’t functionally illiterate. But there’s a reason that the phrase, “Close Enough for Government Work” was coined.
The educational system turns out functional illiterates overseen by over-privileged teachers unions who get free cosmetic surgery and $71,000 dollar salaries. Because that is close enough for government work.
Some public school teachers in the City of Detroit and around the state of Michigan are reportedly taking a vacation or a sick day today to protest right-to-work legislation likely to be approved by the state legislature. Under current law, Michigan public school teachers must pay dues to the teachers’ union. If the right-to-work law is enacted, Michigan public-school teachers will be free to join the union and pay dues to it if they wish, but they will also be free not to join the union and not to pay it dues.
Detroit public-school eighth graders do even worse in math than they do in reading, according to the Department of Education. While only 7 percent scored highly enough on the department’s National Assessment of Educational Progress test in 2011 to be rated “proficient” or better in reading, only 4 percent scored highly enough to be rated “proficient” or better in math.
Statewide in Michigan, only 32 percent of public-school eighth graders scored grade-level proficient or better in reading, and only 31 percent scored grade-level proficient or better in math.
Over the past decade, Michigan’s public school have shown no improvement at all in teaching children how to read. In 2002 just as in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 32 percent of Michigan public-school eighth graders scored proficient or better in reading.
But this would change if only we truly paid teachers as much as we pay NBA basketball stars.
The average Michigan teacher salary is $63,000. Not top. Average. There is no non-government profession where this level of ongoing incompetence would be so richly remunerated.
So what do Detroit teachers get paid in exchange for a 4 percent and 7 percent success rate?
The Detroit metropolitan area has the highest average public school teacher pay among metropolitan areas for which data are available, at $47.28 per hour, followed by the San Francisco metropolitan area at $46.70 per hour, and the New York metropolitan area at $45.79 per hour.
Poor bankrupt Detroit pays teachers more than San Fran and NYC, cities that have actual money. The average teacher’s salary in Detroit is $71,031.
But there’s a problem. Detroit has more teachers than students.
The Detroit Public Schools could be faced with a staffing dilemma in a couple of years if steps are not taken to reduce the number of teachers employed by the district. If projections of dwindling student counts are accurate, the district could soon have 1,800 more teachers than it needs, with the annual bill to pay them costing in the range of $100 million.
Detroit Public Schools had 5,029 full-time teachers and 88,774 students in 2009-10, according to the Michigan Department of Education. But DPS officials estimate that there will be 58,517 students enrolled in 2014. This would mean that the district would have lost 61 percent of its student enrollment since 2003-04 when it had 150,000 students.
This is your city. This is your city on crack.