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Tea party Republican Rand Paul raised some eyebrows in February 2011 when he said in two national TV interviews that the average public school teacher in Wisconsin "is making $89,000 per year."
But the claim by the U.S. senator from Kentucky, which we ruled to be False, was not as surprising as one made nearly a year earlier by the conservative MacIver Institute.
Speaking about Milwaukee public school teachers, the Madison think tank declared in a March 3, 2010, news release:
"For the first time in history, the average annual compensation for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools system will exceed $100,000" in 2011.
In light of Paul’s comments, which were made during the heat of the nationally watched Wisconsin budget debate, we decided to take a closer look at MacIver’s claim. It has resurfaced in the budget debate in comments on websites such as the Huffington Post and TheNation.com.
In announcing the $100,000 figure, the institute produced a video that included brief clips of an MPS administrator reciting salary and fringe benefit numbers during a school board meeting the previous day. The average total compensation figure for teachers exceeded $100,000.
We asked MacIver spokesman Brian Farley if he had any additional evidence. He cited a February 2011 posting from the School Zone blog on JSOnline.com, which reported slightly different numbers than those in MacIver’s video.
The posting quoted MPS’ budget manager as saying that in 2011-2012 (the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2011), the average MPS teacher would receive total compensation of $101,091 -- $59,500 in salary and $41,591 in benefits.
We double-checked with MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin and she confirmed the figures.
We wanted to compare the $101,091 for MPS teachers to other teachers, but the latest figures compiled by the state Department of Public Instruction are for 2009-2010, two years earlier.
Those figures show for 2009-2010, MPS teachers earned, on average, $56,095 in salary plus $30,202 in benefits, for a total of $86,297.
That was lower than eight other school districts in Milwaukee County, including Greendale, Greenfield, Shorewood, Cudahy, Fox Point, South Milwaukee, Franklin and Nicolet, which was highest at just over $103,000.
Let’s return to the MacIver Institute claim.
The conservative think tank said the average annual compensation for a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher would exceed $100,000 in 2011. As of July 1, 2011, according to the school district, that figure will be $101,091.
MacIver’s claim is True.
JSOnline.com, "MPS could face $13.6 million shortfall; benefit rate still high," Feb. 10, 2011
MacIver Institute,"Average MPS teacher compensation tops $100k/year," March 3, 2010
E-mail interview, Milwaukee Public Schools spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin, March 2, 2011
Interview,Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association president Mike Langyel, March 3, 2011
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2009-2010 teacher compensation database
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