Mackinac Center: Teachers Are Overpaid and Whiny

After flurry of bad press, the Mackinac Center’s Tom Gantert decided to take the usual low road and suggested teachers are overpaid, implying they’re whiny.

Educators say they cannot ‘survive’ on one income


This in reply to an Oakland Press article describing the pay freezes faced by Michigan teachers and the second and third jobs they are forced to work.

The Center’s response drips with disgust at the complaints. It mentions at every opportunity summer breaks and lists the salaries of the teachers quoted in the Oakland Press article, ignoring the fact that few school employees have seen step increases, or any increases, in years. Gantert is quick to point to contract provisions that promise step increases in future years.

Which is of little help to a teacher paying bills in the present tense.

Every mention of step increases sends the message that the Center thinks them undeserved.

automatic, seniority-based “step-increase”

Which it does. Last year, during it’s annual summertime ‘Please Do Us a Favor and Quit the MEA’ campaign, the Center planted Op Ed articles in newspapers featuring ex-MEA member Rob Wiesema, who argued that step increases should be outlawed. NextTarget: Your Salary Schedule

The Oakland Press article also reproduced a flurry of Facebook comments, nearly all pro-teacher and therefore anti-Mackinac Center (which motivated its response), including:

Scott Lakeland Rolando – “Just got off my second job here today. FYI Oakland Press a first year teacher in the district I work for is eligible for food stamps. Trust me that’s not a ‘perk.’”

No other commenter put it as well as Jessica ‘Smith’ Pete.

“My husband and I are both teachers and work 3 jobs to make ends meet. We tutor kids on weekends, he cooks at a golf course, I wait tables at the golf course, and we just started a DJ business. On top of that, we drive a 15 year old car, don’t have cable, don’t have a home phone, and shop at the Salvation Army or accept hand-me downs. He has been teaching for 10 years and is frozen on step 1. I have been teaching for 10 years and am frozen on step 4. On top of these wage freezes we have endured four years of pay cuts, the last being a whopping 7.5%! Then you add the increasing cost to our health insurance and the need to go back to school to keep our jobs. At the end of the day I often wonder if it was worth it…all the schooling and debt to graduate into a career that is not valued nor pays it’s employees enough to put food on their own table or to take care of their own children. It’s a very sad time for public education. The politicians won’t stop starving us until we fail and become a ‘for profit’ business model.”

The Center is as out of touch with the profession as ever. In the article’s close, Gantert writes:

The figures cited here do not include health insurance and retirement benefits also given to school employees.

Given? School staffers aren’t ‘given’ health or retirement, thanks to the Mackinac Center’s work. This includes laws that force them to pay 20% of the cost of their health insurance, or everything above a hard cap, a law the Mackinac Center literally wrote. Add this to the every-increasing cost of staying in the state retirement system, the ‘cut your benefits or increase your contribution’ law, as well as the 3% contribution increase (which MEA Legal has been fighting for years), all backed enthusiastically by the Mackinac Center.

But then, the Mackinac Center has been pushing to shut down the state pension system for years. Which, of course, isn’t mentioned in the Center’s response.

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