River Country Journal
Celebrating and Nurturing Life in Southwest Michigan's River Country


January 29, 2013

Superintendent Flanagan says teachers should be making $100,000 salaries

More articles by »
Written by: Bruce Snook

To encourage more scientists and mathematicians into the field of education, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan Monday (January 28th) called for teachers in Michigan to make $100,000-plus salaries.

Addressing a group of science experts that assembled at Michigan State University to discuss the upcoming Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 education, Flanagan said: “We can do all we want with content standards, but the elephant in the room is that it won’t do much good if we don’t have enough math and science teachers in our schools.”

He noted that there even are instances, especially in urban and rural communities, where students have to try to learn math and science from people who aren’t true math and science teachers.

The challenge, Flanagan expressed, is that many high school and college students who are good in science and math don’t see the teaching profession as being a viable career option for themselves.

“When you ratchet-up teacher salaries to $100,000-plus, market forces will direct more mid-career changers and you’ll attract more math and science college students into our educator prep programs,” he said.

“We need to be moving all teachers to that salary level to continue getting the best and brightest people educating our students,” Flanagan said. “It’s all about talent.”

With state laws requiring greater teacher accountability and evaluations, Flanagan expects only the highest quality educators will remain in Michigan classrooms, and “we need to get past the lip service and value them to the greatest extent possible.”

Source:  News release from Michigan Department of Education


  1. Finally--someone with 20/20 vision

    Absolutely dead on accurate. With two engineering degrees and having spent time as a student co-op coordinator between industry co-op sponsors and a private engineering institution earlier in my career, I would love to spend the last 10-15 years of my career teaching kids math and science, but I sure as heck don’t want to take a comparative vow of poverty to do so when I can make as much as some superintendents do today by staying in the business world. I’m not saying you won’t get some good teachers without such pay, but it stands to reason that the vast majority of your most talented technical minds will gravitate to where the money is–not all, but certainly most.

  2. Jen E Adams

    Or the education paradigm could shift and allow students to work as apprentices in-field with scientist and the like. That’s where the most learning occurs, anyway — in application.

  3. Finally--someone with 20/20 vision

    Jen, I agree with this on paper.

    Some systems like this have been in place at a college level with several good co-op programs now. I actually obtained my undergraduate degrees that way, and I have worked as a facilitator at two employers for two different programs–once for Kettering University and once for Oakland University. You have to have industry sponsors that are interested in working in these areas which is sometimes a challenge.

    I think what is eluded to in the article above is more K-12 level, and I don’t think an apprenticeship at that level will be as embraced by corporate sponsors. First, at least in a college co-op program there is some incentive for the sponsor to be grooming a student for possible employment once they get at least an undergraduate degree. That wouldn’t be the caveat for such a set up in a K-12 type situation.

    Also, I have typically seen that students in such existing programs even at a college level really aren’t given meaningful assignments to use until they are at least a junior-senior level. So I don’t envision corporate sponsors giving even younger kids anything along the lines of true work related responsibilities. Maybe others have seen differently, I’m just basing this on my experience with the programs I have worked with.

    Finally, corporate partners deal more with the application of the basic skillsets whereas they rely on the academic/theoretical foundation from the school to provide many of those basic skillsets while the sponsor will assist the the application side of things to show how to put those skillsets to use. Of course they will teach you other aspects that you don’t get in a classroom but by in large its very application specific. You need both….but without someone on the academic side of things –it’s all moot. That means you need some of your sharpest in the classroom also (and it has to be those that can teach –there are those that are great engineers and scientists, but are terrible at teaching it to others). If you can find someone that can do both–you have a rare combination indeed, and as the author above states, a bit of money sure doesn’t hurt to help attract that kind of talent.

  4. Finally--someone with 20/20 vision

    I think another really good model to perhaps expand on more at a K-12 level is the one that Park Elementary in TR conducted here recently with some of their kids in a work shop with the engineering/technical group at the Fort Custer Military base in Battle Creek over a series of weeks (I believe they called the workshops “Star Base”)

    My 11yr old (who thinks he wants to be an architect) had an excellent learning experience there with the group of engineers and technicians there learning some basic physics principles, Computer Aided drafting, among other things. It was a very positive experience for him that was educational and enjoyable. I mean he really looked forward to the days spent there and couldn’t wait to share what he had learned when he got home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>