A Michigan school district’s $10,000 raise for every teacher highlighted the indifference many school leaders have toward declining student achievement.

Battle Creek Public Schools recently awarded union teachers with the hefty hike because of the district’s “fiscal responsibility,” WOOD TV reported Superintendent Kim Carter as saying.

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“It’s right-sizing the district at a point now where … our expenses are not exceeding our revenue. So when we received increased state aid, we decided that we were going to invest that increase in teacher compensation,” Carter told the news station.

The superintendent said the district had $2 million “left over” and opted to raise the floor for teacher pay, not just give one-time bonuses.

WOOD TV added:

With the raise, teachers will make an average of $68,300 with starting pay at $50,000, which is higher than the state ($38,963) and national averages ($42,844). The increase, which goes into effect in the 2023-2024 school year, makes BCPS teachers some of the highest paid in Southwest Michigan.

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Fortunately for the union teachers, student achievement had no bearing on the pay hikes.

According to MI School Data, test scores showed student proficiency declined from 2020-21 to 2021-22.

The proficiency for all 3rd graders fell to 41.6 percent from 42.8 percent. In 2021-22, black student proficiency was 16 percent. Proficiency declined as students grew older. The number of 7th graders deemed proficient dropped from 40.7 percent in 2020-21 to 37.7 percent in 2021-22.

PublicSchoolReview.com found Battle Creek’s graduation rate was 68 percent, despite having a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-1.

The results from that resource were more grim: 8 percent of Battle Creek students are proficient in math, while 19 percent are proficient in reading.

Public School Review found Battle Creek spends $18,144 per student each year.

The $10,000 raises are just the latest attempt to improve results.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported:

Increasing teacher salaries has been a long-term priority for the district since 2017 when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided BCPS with a $51 million investment to support a district transformation focused on addressing opportunity gaps and reducing barriers to success for kids in the community.

Through the district’s transformation work, a number of teacher incentives have been made available over the last several years, including bonuses, paid professional development and a partnership with the city of Battle Creek offering up to $20,000 in home purchase assistance. 

Despite that, Public School Review showed significant declines in student proficiency since 2011.

The pay hikes shouldn’t come as a surprise as the union is influential with the Battle Creek school board.

In 2022, the union endorsed two candidates out of five running – Elishae Johnson and Nicole Standback Perry – and they won. They then supported the union raises.