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Posted on Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of Education: Teachers should make between $60,000 and $150,000

By Kyle Feldscher

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan turned some heads Monday by saying he believes the starting salary for teachers should be $60,000 per year and calling for increased standards for prospective teachers, according to an Education Week report.

Duncan said teachers should be paid between $60,000 and $150,000 per year in order to draw the best and brightest students into the teaching profession, according to the report. The lowest starting salary for a teacher in Ann Arbor Public Schools is $39,540.

The report, published in Education Week's Politics K-12 blog, stated Duncan also called on the nation's universities to increase the standards for students to enter their colleges of education. The report states the call for increased salaries and more stringent standards is a part of Duncan's initiative to not only attract better teachers but to challenge those teachers more in their profession.

To read the full Education Week report, click here.

Kyle Feldscher covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

To have highly competent teachers educating our children $60,000 is a reasonable and fair starting salary for a teacher graduating with a Masters Degree in education. It takes a great deal of time, energy, knowledge, in class room management skill and education to make a teacher. The debt burden of a teacher with a Master's Degree is significant. Teacher's deserve a good quality of life just like any other professional. A good teacher is going to spend 8 hours with a child, a great teacher is going to spend 8+ hours with a child, develop curriculum, and help students with after school tutoring on their own time. Great Teacher's work a 12+ hour day because they must grade all of those assignments, papers and tests that student's complete during the day at home late into the evening. Great teachers provide relevant comprehensive feedback to students to help them learn and understand difficult concepts. We need more highly competent teachers and more accountability from under performing teachers. If we want success in our classrooms we need to make sure we have really good teachers that can engage and excite students to learn.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Macabre, You are invited into my classroom next month to observe. If you still think I am a "glorified babysitter", I will continue reading your posts. If you respond, I'll post an e-mail address so you can contact me. Lindsay

Jeff Gaynor

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

kermdd7 (Lindsay): Perfect! When I taught elementary grades I would invite parents, or others, who made such comments to my classroom. I would give them 4-5 well behaved students to work with, along with clear directions, for 30-45 minutes. By lunch time they would be looking exhausted, and say, "I didn't realize... I don't know how you do it."


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:41 a.m.

I'd like to see a policy at that when people continue to post lies as facts that they are removed from the commentary. It only serves to confuse and inflame.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

The problem with removing one item out of a string is that many of the following items may reference that item. While I agree that some level of fact checking would be nice, it will never happen here. The person had that was doing some of that is long gone. While in principle I can agree that posts that have the wrong facts should be removed, the reality is that depending on the source, you can find almost any number or rank to support your position. In your case you looked at salary, in the case of others they look at total compensation. The difference in ranking could be significant.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Basic, your reply (that I assume is a satirical comment on my frequent requests for people to back up their facts with evidence) makes no sense in this context. I am only requesting that, once it is clear something posted as fact is proved wrong, that it be removed. Do you disagree with that?

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

Do you have any FACTS to support this??? Maybe Some Liberal Use Of Sentence Case? Double spacing? Extraneous punctuation??? I thought not!!!


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

They need to fire parents of under-performing students. The funny thing is that it is easy to sit back and sling arrows at the terrible, lazy, entitled, and (this is a new one) unintelligent teachers and their evil middle class salaries and benefits provided by the even more evil union, yet completely neglect the people who have (or should have) the biggest influence on the students, THEIR PARENT(S)!!!! (NOTE: you also ignore the blackhole of salary and benefits known as elected officials on all levels). Try this, turn off the propaganda spewed on talk radio everyday and take a trip to your nearest urban center and take a peek into the world of a teacher who has to try to instill the value of learning to children whose parents could care less. You might have a new found respect for the profession.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

hammer - I find this logic a problem. When I look at some of the best teachers in some of the worst districts, they have done wonderful things. To say that a teacher has little or no impact on the student, any student is to say "I surrender" and at that point they should go look for a different job. Teachers need to know the tricks of classroom management. I saw a wonderful set of before and after videos of classes where the teacher was having problems running a classroom, got coaching on how to do a better job in classroom management and then was able to get better control. We spend way too much time on things that seem to matter little (like PEG) and too little on how to get students to actually learn and be motivated to learn. Right now it is harder for students to see a future with so many people out of work. So it is extra hard to keep them motivated and looking at a bright future, but if the schools cannot do something, we create a permanent underclass that will never be able to move up. Is that the solution, give up and live with a permanent under class? Teaching is hard, no question, teachers deserve good pay and benefits, no question. The question is should we just lower the standards for what happens in schools?

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

You mean more respect for a glorified baby-sitter making much more than the average semi-skilled worker? I agree that the parents are the primary problem. But let's not elevate teachers to the level of sainthood, either. The propaganda seems mostly to be flowing from the unions these days.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

Macabre: Posting lie after lie won't help you in your crusade against teachers.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

@macabre- Not true.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Macabre, put your evidence where your mouth is.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 2:15 a.m.

Compensation is much more than just a salary. When compensation is compared the cost of living, Michigan is far, far out in front of the rest of the country.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

According to <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>: Average Teacher Salary Rank: 7th Starting Teacher Salary Rank: 10th


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

OK, so Michigan teachers are the 3rd highest paid in the country, still right there in the 95th percentile ! Good Day

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.

Throwing money at the situation won't do anything for education quality. Anyway, Michigan's teachers are the highest compensated in the country, so they're already way ahead of the game (if they've made friends with the union bosses).

Fat Bill

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

The problem with the local control/local function argument is that the child hasn't a choice of where to live. Proposal A attempted to address this; I shudder to think where schools in the UP or Thumb region would be right now without some sort of level funding arrangement. Why would somebody who has taken the time and paid the money for 5-6 years of college education to become &quot;highly qualified&quot; according to NCLB go to work for $38 grand a year? There has to be something there to attract talented professionals.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

Chase Ingersoll wrote: &quot;Fact: the students in the education schools have lower high school GPA and college board scores than just about any other department.&quot; 1) Source for your &quot;fact&quot;? 2) Assuming that &quot;fact&quot; to actually be a &quot;fact&quot;, I wonder if you might speculate why that is a &quot;fact&quot;. Ya don't think that it might be because teacher pay is at the low end of the professional scale for students coming out of college with huge student debts, do ya? Good Night and Good Luck

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

In my world, they are the same product. If I want a well made car, I pay good money for it. If I want a piece of junk, I don't. Similarly, if you want to attract the best of young Americans to the teaching profession, you need to pay the money that will attract them there. But, if having someone who chooses teaching as the profession of last resort is good enough for you, keep teacher pay where it is. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

Ghost; In my world, Yugo's and Caddilacs are on different demand curves. The price of oil however, seems to be bolstered by decreasing supply.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 11:50 a.m.

Yes, because that's how it works. High quality people choose a profession on the hope that the professions's pay will be commensurate to their quality at some point even though their are other professions whose pay is already there. Gee--I wonder which profession they would choose. And, of course, the public mass demonization of teachers sends a very clear message about when teacher pay will catch up to the other professions. Want good people to enter the profession? Pay 'em and quit demonizing 'em. Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 3:42 a.m.

How 'bout we get higher quality people in there before we start doubling what's already incredible compensation as compared to what the average college grad can find in the workplace?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

&quot;Math for teachers&quot; is what someone would take if they were going to teach English or teach K-5. mmppcc is correct: one has to have had either a major or a minor in the subject matter they intend to teach in order to gain their certification in that subject for 6-12. K-5 teachers have somewhat different rules. Yes, all the slandering of teachers that has been part of the public discourse for the last two decades &quot;deifies&quot; teahching. Gee. Ya don't think that that discourse might have something to do with why high quality students aren't attracted into the profession, do ya? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Couldn't have anything to do with it. Good Night and Good Luck

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

I had a roommate in the ed program at UM. Can't speak for high school subjects, but math for teachers was a required ed-school course, and a smart sixth-grader could handle it easily. Prospective teachers? Not so much. We are deifying the mediocre.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:45 a.m.

eyeheart: In my world, if I want a Yugo, I pay $500 for it. If I want a Caddy, I pay $35,000 (+) for it. Cutting down the number of admissions to Ed Schools will not solve the problem. Kicking up the standards will not solve the problem. Want good people in the profession? Pay them as if they were lawyers. Don't care about the quality of people entering the profession? Pay 'em as if they were managing a MacDonald's. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

Eyeheart, again, you submitted a quote from an opinion piece that had no research in it.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

Macabre, a sentence that starts with &quot;I'm not even sure&quot; should probably be left in your head until you have some time to research it. I just picked an earth science major at MSU at random for you to take a look: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

Macabre: So that fact that, by law, the English teacher has to have a major or minor in English, the math teacher has to have a major or minor in math, the physics teacher has to have a major or minor in physics, etc, means to you teachers don't take any real classes in college? At least you don't let facts stand in the way of your blind hatred of teachers.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:21 p.m.

I'm not even sure teachers have to take any real courses in college. Ed school classes are an embarrassment. Then half of them get fake online master's degrees to jack up their salaries.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

Well, the difference between doctors, engineers and lawyers is that all of those are hard schools to get into (ok, at least a decent law school, I think if you can draw the donkey you can get into some law schools). The selectivity pushes down the supply, increasing the cost. The trouble with teachers colleges is that there are so many of them, cranking out teachers right and left. To turn your question around, if it is so dismal, why do they graduate so many? At least a lawyer can tell himself he might be a partner, but why go into teaching? 1. Because it is your true calling? (you and 50 bazillion other grads) 2. Because you couldn't get into _____ So, my feeling is the colleges should get more selective and restrict the supply. If (as you are hinting), we drive up the salary of teachers (somehow circumventing the free market), all that will happen is to make a bad oversupply situation worse. Who wins there? Probably nepotism. Union in. Know the superintendent. Bring back the &quot;casting couch&quot; D, all of the above.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

Well, it's a fact. Which leads to my question. Why don't people who want to be doctors, engineers, and lawyers go to ed. school instead? Good Night and Good luck


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Mr. Ghost, please see above.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

I agree that teachers should be better compensated, respected, and appreciated. However the timing of this article couldn't be much worse.

Stephen Landes

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

Arne should keep his mouth closed. Education is still a locally controlled function and we do not need some Federal, over paid, bureaucrat telling us how much a teacher should make. This is none of his business. In fact, comments like this are more justification for eliminating the Department of Education. We can use the savings to reduce the Federal debt from years of mismanagement by both parties -- good for everyone, should improve the prospect of jobs in this country, with the result of a stronger local tax base which will really help our schools.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Salaries are one thing, total compensation is something else. When you look at retirement at 55, for most health care plans the premiums are fully paid, a defined benefit pension for life and for now at least health care for life - one has to ask - what would I in the private sector have to put away every year to get these benefits? I fully agree, teachers should be well paid. However, I think the discussion has to be about total compensation, not about take home pay. The military started doing this for soldiers back in the 1980s to help them understand the value of their benefits, I think every government employee should get a similar statement. I suspect, if you stay a teacher - the value of the $38,000 first year salary as total compensation is probably closer to $50-65,000 compared to someone with a 401k, and a &quot;you pay&quot; health care plan.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

How many FOIA requests have you submitted DonBee? Because I've FOIAed compensation information about employees, with names attached, with absolutely no resistance from AAPS. So excuse me if I'm skeptical of your claims.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

sh1 - IRS statistics show that over the last 3 years the percentage of companies actually making a 401K match is decreasing. While about 70 percent of companies offer a 401K match - which in most cases is based a formula and a management decision - fewer than 25 percent gave one in 2011. In most cases if you are putting the maximum amount $15,500 a year, your company match will be less than $5,000. This is less than the amount that is paid on behalf of even a first year teacher in Ann Arbor under the current formula (roughly 20% of their $35,000 salary or approximately $7,000 a year. Now find me someone in the private sector making $35,000 a year, who does not have a spouse earning significantly more that is putting the maximum in their 401K. lynel - While I would love to know that number, I can tell you right now that the FOIA would be rejected for privacy reasons by AAPS, their standard answer when you ask ANY personnel questions. Even in aggregate they consider any question about people to violate privacy laws.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:25 p.m.

But, they could retire at 55 and still get health insurance. Most of us can't.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 11:14 p.m.

DonBee, I'm wondering if you can find out just how many teachers in Ann Arbor actually retire at age 55.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

Interesting you bring up 401k's, since in the private sector there are often company matching programs for that, which does not occur in the world of education. It's pretty complex to try to compare pay outside of base salary.

Chase Ingersoll

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

All that will do is create a greater shortage of and higher salaries for doctors, engineers and other professional programs that are harder to get into. Fact: the students in the education schools have lower high school GPA and college board scores than just about any other department. Starting salaries of $60k and all of the kids from the engineering and business programs will be sliding over to an easier academic schedule and taking the places of college students that scored less than 25 on their ACT Math test.


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

I got a 33 on my ACT math, perfect on the math GRE (800) and I don't teach math... I also have a BS in chemistry and a master's in chemistry


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:34 a.m.

@Eyeheart: interesting opinion piece. Still looking for the research that proves that &quot;students in the education schools have lower high school GPA&quot; and education majors are &quot;college students that scored less than 25 on their ACT Math test.&quot;


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:42 p.m.

&quot; Research over the years has indicated that education majors who enter college with the lowest average SAT scores, leave with the highest grades. &quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> So, can we see some research to the contrary?


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Citing your research is helpful when you start a paragraph with the word &quot;Fact.&quot;


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

I think that &quot;teachers should be paid between $60,000 and $150,000 per year&quot; The way to pay them this amount of money is to base their pay on their students performance. Base it on the standardized tests and see how much improvement each student has each year. Just like we pay a professional sport coach. Of course, they should also be fired if they cannot improve their students test scores. I guess that this is a little too rough to pay teachers like business people are, based on Results not good intentions.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Performance on standardized tests is so disconnected from any valuable part of education that it's just hilarious.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Can the teacher's select which parents they have to work with? This is a critical factor in test score improvement.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:49 p.m.

So, which kids' scores do you look at to pay the art, music, PE, and special education teachers?


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

It's about time people recognize not only the work teachers do on a daily basis to educate future generations, but the schooling they have. Most teachers have at the very least, a master's degree. Many have a master's plus and all schooling is paid for out of their own pocket. Everyone complains about teachers because they think they sit back in the summer and get paid. For the last time, TEACHERS DON'T GET PAID FOR THE SUMMER!!!! You think it's easy, try it for a day. Gloria

Tony Livingston

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

Whether teachers get paid for the summer or not is irrelevant. No one will go into a profession that they cannot earn enough to raise a family on. The salaries need to be up there to attract great people to the profession. summer or no summer.

DB Holden

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

The comments by Secretary Duncan are not rooted in reality and unfortunate. While we grapple with school finances at the district level, attempting to strike the balance between needs and wants, we do not need interference from Washington. Historically public education has been under local control but we have seen a slow erosion over the last 30 years to the detriment of students, parents, and taxpayers.

Andrew MacKie-Mason

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Yeah. How dare he interfere and contribute to the erosion of local control by giving a speech? I'd be worried that he might actually convince people using his dangerous, overreaching, federal powers of rational persuasion.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

Are you the same DB Holden running for Saline school board?


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

Teachers have been and are still very underpaid. Even worse, they continue to be disrespected and beat up by lawmakers and uninformed citizens. Just to set the facts straight before the banter begins, A2 teachers start at $38,670 with a bachelor's degree. Those who have a PhD when they start earn $48,821. The salary schedule tops off at $85,843, but in order to make that you must have a PhD and at least 14 years experience in the A2 District. Any teacher that makes well above these figures is doing a LOT of extra work outside of their regular job. This could include coaching, summer school, school improvement (or other) committees, or any other extra assignment that requires an additional time commitment.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

What a pathetic, misleading link. The teachers I know added their teaching certificates to their majors, such as math, English, science, etc.

Donald Wilson

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

But there are many teachers who didn't do that. What you suggest used to be common, and has become required due to No Child Left Behind, but for a good period of time in the 80s and 90's, anybody who could get into EMU's education programme could graduate with a teach degree, without learning anything other than how to teach, because the expectation was that, if you knew HOW to each, you could teach anything, as long as you had the book to teach it from.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

See EyeHeartA2


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

@EyeHeartA2, I almost choked to death on my quarter pounder with cheese when I read this title ! Where the heck has Arne Duncan been,certainly not around these parts eh ? Heck, Saline has a middle school gym teacher that makes over 100 K and several folks teaching grade school at Saline that make over 90k ! My good friend Ludicrous would like what I have to call this, and that is Ludicrous ! Good Day


Tue, Aug 2, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

@mmppcc, Saline has teachers in their low 30's and low 40's that make over 90 and 100k, that is a fact ! In fact one teacher who is no older than 32 made 98 k last year so you could not be more wrong. Good Day Good Day


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

I can think of three people in the same profession who I think make too much money; therefore, all people in that profession must make too much money!


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

I almost choked to death on my quarter pounder with cheese when I read your post. Where the heck have you been? Certainly not around these parts, eh? Any teacher making 90k-110k has taught for 30-40 years and works tons of extra curriculars / coaching. Saline has young teachers making in the 30s.

Top Cat

Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

My response to Mr. Duncan would be OK. Let's pay for it by abolishing the absolutely useless Federal Department of Education.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Republican translation: Teachers should make between $20,000 and $30,000 if they are miracle workers in the classroom. Otherwise, they should be fired. Oh ya, and they should pay for their own benefits.


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Teachers salaries won't go up until there is a teacher shortage. Not like today (per pre-recession) when there are 400+ applicants for every opening. There won't be a teacher shortage until colleges get selective with admissions and quit cranking teachers out like quarter pounders with cheese. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Aug 1, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

Said it before, and firmly believe it; Just to deal with most parents of the kids in school today, all teachers are vastly underpaid.