The key to getting more qualified math and science teachers into Michigan schools is simple, according to state Superintendent Mike Flanagan: pay them more.
Flanagan, who heads up the Michigan Department of Education, said Monday at an assembly of scientists at Michigan State University that Michigan schools need more math and science teachers. The problem, he said, is that most scientists and mathematicians don't consider teaching in public schools to be a viable career option.
“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,” Flanagan said while discussing science standards in K-12 schools, according to a release from the state.
Average teacher salaries, according to statistics released annually by the MDE, vary by tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the school district. No district's average salary in 2010-11 hit $100,000.
Farmington Public Schools average teacher salary during that school year was $78,677, the 8th highest in the state.
“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 added. “We need to be moving all teachers to that salary level to continue getting the best and brightest people educating our students.
“It’s all about talent.”
Patch editor Joni Hubred-Golden contributed to this report.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Birmingham had the highest average teacher salary in the state, at $94,703. This number was provided by the Michigan Department of Education, however district officials said this week that salary data had been mis-reported to the state in 2011 and never corrected in state records. The average teachers salary at Birmingham Public Schools in 2010-11 was $75,323.07, district officials said Jan. 31.