Getty Images By Chris Hondros
Getty Images By Chris Hondros

I have spoken about this on my show many times.  We need to ask the teachers unions to stop protecting bad or severely underperforming teachers and praise and pay great teachers appropriately.

I give you a couple of cases where the teacher unions work against good teachers.

In an article I read in The Michigan Capitol Confidential news site, they write about a Birmingham teacher who was selected by the Michigan Department of Education as the state's 2015-16 teacher of the year.

This teacher earned $88,770 in 2014-15, now that is a good salary paid to what appears to be a great teacher, right?

Well, he is not paid that highly because he is a great teacher, as his selection by the Michigan Department of Education as the state's 2015-16 teacher of the year proves.  He is paid that much because of the number of years he's been on the job--20 years--and the number of academic credentials he has accumulated.

Now let us contrast that with a teacher in the Cedar Springs school district in Kent County.  He was recognized as a finalist for the 2014-15 state Teacher of the Year award.  From this we can assume he is a very effective teacher.

Problem is he has only been teaching five years, and so due to his union contract, where everyone regardless of their abilities are assumed to be of the same value only earned $44,827 in 2014-15. That’s about $13,000 less than the district’s average teacher salary of $57,645.

As the Michigan Capitol Confidential article stated “the contrast suggests that the current system of union-negotiated public schoolteacher contracts, combined with many districts' casual compliance with state requirements to implement an effective teacher evaluation system, are holding back many of Michigan's best teachers.”

How are we to attract the best most effective teachers to Michigan if their own union who negotiates their pay does not even recognize them for their qualities and value to our children?

If all teachers, no matter what their skill sets or how effective they are in the classroom, are assumed to be of the same value, why would a great teacher want to teach in Michigan?

Sounds like communism to me.

Oh, just to be fair, some schools do give “merit” pay, for example Ann Arbor Public Schools gives $150 to its best teachers.

That would entice me to teach in Michigan.

In the article Audrey Spalding, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy was quoted as saying “Those school districts don’t value exceptional teachers.  School officials should put their money where their mouth is. If you have a truly exceptional teacher who is helping students achieve above and beyond others, you should be paying those teachers what he or she is worth. There are exceptional teachers out there who teach difficult classes and produce incredible gains for their students. Those teachers should make $100,000 per year.”

I agree with her, we should pay our exceptional teachers well, help those who need further instruction, and weed out poor teachers.

Do you?

Let’s discuss this today on my show The Live with Renk show, which airs Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to noon, to let me know your thoughts at (269) 441-9595.

Or please feel free to start a discussion and write your thoughts in the comment section.

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