It turns out that my earlier post "Circus Maximus" probably overstated what Wisconsin teachers make. After a conversation with the president of the Milwaukee teacher's union today, it turns out that I had been looking at the pay schedule for the 200-day employees, and not the 191-day employees--which most teachers are. It turns out that you begin--in the 2009 contract--with a BA at $35,729 plus benefits (which are deferred compensation, and which, in the form of benefits, save the state from paying Social Security taxes on their value, a win-win for workers and the state government), not $47,000. In fact, you only get to $47,000 with a BA with eight years on the job. If you get a BA and 16 extra college credits (which you pay for out of pocket, even though you haven't paid off your student loans yet!), you get to $47,000 after seven years on the job.
If you have an MA, you start off in a slightly better "lane". See the details at http://www.mtea.org/User/Mimlitza/TEACHER0709.pdf
But consider a teacher who makes in the $40,000 range. She (usually) is still trying to pay back something like $20,000 in student loans, plus trying to pay for more college credits or an MA so that she can advance. It's a stretch.
Not to mention that $40,000 is before taxes. Yes. Public employees pay taxes. It's a form of recycling.
So when the MacIver Institute, funded by the arch-conservative Bradley Foundation, says that it costs $101,000 for a teacher in Milwaukee, realize that it is padding the numbers by adding in every possible payment, and by no means represents the situation of most teachers in the system.
It is grossly misleading and would be just plain stupid if it hadn't gone viral with the apparently respectable word "Institute" attached to it.