Monday, June 27, 2005

Teachers Get Paid Too Much

I was over at educationwonks today, reading about the average teacher salary. That's about $10,000 more than I make per year.

Then I got to the comments section, where some guy had this to say:

"I played golf with a few teachers who made 90+ a year they didn't have too many problems with the pay.

The other problem I find in the comparison of pay is the time in the office, where I work starting you get two weeks a year (1-5 years of work), my friends who teach get 18 weeks off. Teaching they got right around 40K a year but normalizing the wages (34 weeks on duty + 2 Vaction to normalize the rate with my standard vaction~$1111.00/36 weeks) then factoring for working a 50 on-2 off schedule its the equvilanet of starting at ~58K a year which is higer than many a starting salary.

Thats the problem I have when they discuss teachers salaries is they always seem to ignore the increased time off compensation that comes with the job." the Pirate

I'm not sure that I understand all of his weird math, but he's wrong about the time off. I wish I knew where to go to get eighteen weeks off in a year. I work in Texas, and we get about eight weeks for the summer and two for winter, then maybe another two for other breaks. He doesn't mention that we don't get paid for these breaks.

Here's the thing. I only get paid for the days that I work, and whether I agree or not, my employer gets to take that amount and divide it up into twelve equal payments. My net pay equals about two-thirds of my gross, since the state gets to take out huge chunks for my "retirement." I have no say in how much goes out or who gets control of my money. I also am not eligible for Social Security, even though I paid into it for at least ten years before I started teaching.

My employer also won't let me work extra days for pay, even if I want to. Think about it this way. You've been offered a really cool job, at a great hourly rate. But the boss tells you after you've accepted the job that you have a mandatory period where you're not allowed to work and you won't get paid for that.

I get paid about two-hundred dollars a day. Sounds great, right? But I only get paid for 187 days, no matter how many hours I work above and beyond. Work through lunch? Too bad. Work from seven am to eight-thirty pm? Thanks for the dedication to your students. Have a cookie on the way out. My contract actually specifies that I undertake any and all "duties assigned" to me by the principal, and my principal frequently reminds us that we don't have hours, that we work "until the job gets done."

I have to use the time in the summer to get an extra job to make my house payments. And I don't even live in the upscale neighborhood where I teach.

If I were to get babysitting wages, I'd earn better than this. Three dollars an hour, five hours a day, twenty students. This is being EXTREMELY conservative, because I work at least seven hours a day, and I have had 34 kids in class before but class size limits don't apply to me as a "specials" teacher. That adds up to $54,000 a year. I make $17,000 less than that, even less if you take out the retirement that I'll never see. Texas has a history of mishandling state employee pensions.

In addition, last year my budget for consumable supplies (paper, crayons, pencils) consisted of less than $0.50 for each of my students. I frequently have to use MY money to make sure that my students have what they need. And I work in one of the more affluent suburban districts.

When was the last time that a corporation required an employees to go to the store and buy pencils and paper and pens not only for themselves, but for 500 other people in the office?

Pirate, please let me know how many teachers actually make $90,000 a year. Last I heard, only superintendents in DISD and football coaches ever got anywhere near that much. I'm in Texas, a "right to work" state. No unions allowed, no tenure, no job security, crappy pay and forced "vacations." Sounds like your dream job now, huh?


Dean said...

I've certainly never heard of a teacher making 90k. Here in BC, teachers make a pretty decent living - probably about what you make to start, but they have much better benefits and quite a bit of political power, although the current union is pissing a lot of people off.

It certainly sounds like teaching in Texas is no picnic, though.

Diva said...

It sounds like the pirate didn't have a very good math teacher.

Football I can't verbalize the injustice.

Kate said...

And in the suburbs of Texas, football coaches get paid more money than God. If they win, that is.

Anonymous said...

My sister 10 yrs. teaching in CT makes 90K-which includes benefits and gets summers off & vacations. I did her taxes, I know. She teaches 2nd grade & chases kids around the classroom-NOT BAD!-I don't feel sorry for her.

Anonymous said...

I teach in FL, and I make less than someone who works at Wal-mart, and I have a masters degree.

Anonymous said...

Do some math. 24 kids per class. 5 classes a day. TOO BABYSIT one kid the average rate is at least 6 dollars so per class thats 144 dollars times 5 classes a day is 720 dollars. 5 days a week = 3600 times however many school weeks there are in a year, usually 32. That's just for babysitting.

Anonymous said...

Well I do not know about TX, but teachers here are paid year round whether they are in session or not. Even though my state is dead last in education (Alabama)

Anonymous said...

You are being paid the right amount unless there is a great deal of competition for jobs or your districts cannot hire enough teachers to meet its staffing needs. If you were being paid too little, you would quit and find another job. If you were being paid too much, there would be a lot of competition for jobs.

Anonymous said...

Teachers are paid too much if you ask me.

They earn at least 30k for about 10 months of work. Don't forget the countless holidays that keep them at home.

Teachers can also go back to school for their masters and receive a pay increase. Guess who funds that pay raise? The tax payers. Does it make them more effective teachers? No.

Yes, you aren't paid for summer vacation or holidays, but your pay is more than enough to survive 2 months without pay.

I know people who work all 52 weeks for just as much money.

Educaters; please get off your high-horses. You are not heros. You are simply spitting back textbook knowledge to someone who lacks that knowledge. You are as much of a hero as a truck driving school instructor.

Anonymous said...

gotta be kidding me.. teachers are the foundation of the world..
think about it, who would you be if you hadnt gone to school to be taught the things that your life wouldnt normally expose you to? would you be able to figure out math and writing by yourself? some say "my parents couldve taught me that stuff" but where do you think they learned it?
teachers should get paid a lot of money to educate our kids. education lowers crime, increases our kids' chances for success, cleans the world up, and increases morality.. why would teachers not get paid a ton? however, teachers should be paid more or less based on performance..
as with all jobs, there are good bad teachers.. some deserve more than others, but as long as theyre educating our kids, i will never say they should get paid less.

Anonymous said...

To the person who wants teachers to get off their high-horses. I made about $25K for teaching. So I get there at 7am to prepare the lesson the state mandates that I teach, but I can't just "spit" back the information, I have to find a way to put it so the kids will be engaged and will understand it. Then I have to think about the lower level learners and bilingual students and how I get to spend time after school to personally tutor them. Then I have to think about the high level learners and what they can do when they complete their assignment early. So that's at least three different ways I have to "spit" out the same information. All the while trying to maintain an organized and structured classroom, which believe me, is no picnic. It's not the army you can't just yell at them and expect results. And if you do there is always a parent who is more than happy to tell you off. Then because YOU don't think I do MY job well enough I get to do at least 40 hour of professional development every year that does not go towards my master's degree.

So I'm there from 7-4, and I'll let you have my 45 min plan period and my 15 min of lunch, so that's 7 hours into the work day already. Oh but wait, most teachers have to coach or represent some group from the school. Me, personally I started practice at 6 hopefully got done at 9 then spent an hour cleaning up. So by the time I get done I've put in at least a 10-12 hour work day "babysitting" your children.
Pay me $2/hr for 20 students, and that a really small class, for 5 hours a day, 180 days a year. That $36,000. Babysitters in high school can technically make more than me.
But you know what, I don't do this for you or to be a hero. I do it because sometimes I'm the only thing those kids have. I'm the only person who gives them a word of encouragment when what they really need is food, shelter, and clothes because there parents decided they didn't want to take care of them anymore.

Anonymous said...

To those who say teachers get paid too much, I would like to see you try teaching. It's easy to criticize, but you have no idea what teachers go through. I'm a student working towards my teacher certification at the moment, and because of people like you, teachers are disrespected. Evry year they seem to add something to make certification harder. And every year, teachers get more and more responsibilities thrown at them and yet they still get criticized by people like you. Thanks to people with mentalaties like yours, future teachers get discouraged! And that's really a shame, because the U.S clearly needs teachers to educate people like you.

Anonymous said... the IDIOT who thinks teachers make too much money.... It's EDUCATORS, not "educaters!!!" Maybe if your EDUCATORS had made more money, you'd know how to spell!!!

QUICK...2+2....GO!!! Moron....

Kate said...

To Anon #4:
Maybe teachers in Alabama do get paid year round. I do to, but here's how they do it: the state takes my salary and divides it by 12 to get a monthly. I also don't get paid for the year I'm currently starting until the end of September, though I have to sign a contract in March and won't know my salary until August.

To Anon #5:
Competition for teacher jobs doesn't work that way. The school district sets their budget and the salaries they will pay AFTER getting all of the current teachers to sign their contracts. And quit my job? In this economy? Our country currently values only financial professionals, as shown by their salaries.

To Anon #6:
You think 30K is too much?
Then I don't have much to say to someone who's clearly out of touch with reality. Go watch a teacher teach some time, or get one to run down their day for you and you'll see what a deluded statement you made. BTW, at no time did I or anyone on this thread call teachers heroes. The other anon below you did a great job running it all down.

Anonymous said...

Not going to touch the topic of too much/not enough for teacher pay. Just a casual observation of the comments here, that also mirror what my friends who are teachers also say.

Teachers want to be held in high esteem for the thankless job they do. I'm okay with that.

Teachers want to make more money.

You can't have it both ways. ALso, how MUCH should a teacher bet paid ? how much is enough ? how much is too much ? and besides the hopelessly empty shenanigans of equivalency testing, what benchmarks of performance exist for determining which teachers are good and which are bad ?

Kate said...

Anon 12/14:
Why must esteem and pay be mutually exclusive? You make a conclusion but offer no support for it.
Doctors get paid fairly high wages, and are esteemed, so there's at least one profession that can have both.

Anonymous said... states that the average teacher makes 40K a year. You can play with the math however you want. Teachers on average get two months for summer and another month of vacation during the year. so that means they only work 9/12 months. The average college graduate makes $46,000 per year per If you annualize a teacher's salary they make a little over 53K per year. I admit that their job is hard, I don't really think it's much harder then any other type of job. Plus they go in from 7 am to 4 pm. I don't know if I've ever see 4 pm and I've seen a lot of 7 am. Teachers are getting paid plenty.

Anonymous said...

So when you leave your job what do you do? Go home, relax, and leave your job at the door. Newsflash! Teachers take their job home!They work weekends, evenings preparing, and half the holidays you think that teachers get off are actually teacher in-servive days where they're working! Also newsflash you're acting like teachers are an entry level job. They have college degrees! It's a professional job and teachers are held at higher moral standards. Ya I'd be suprised if someone without an education working at wal-mart made 30000, but when do people forget that a teacher at minimum have a bachelors degree. Oh, but it's okay a bank executive can make over 100k and that's okay because they're educated and it makes sense. So a teacher, who is educated working 10 months out of the year making 40000k seems pretty deserved

Dennis said...

"Teachers are the foundation of the world"....ha! Parents can do just as well what teachers do! That's a typical comment from a crony of the nanny state! Gee, how many of us would have died early on without running water? I suppose that makes water works employees the glue of the so-called foundation! Idiot!

Kate said...

You can keep your name calling and politics on your own blog. If you want to comment on mine, stay civil or you will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

I think the only way teachers are paid on a 12 months basis is if they elect to have money taken out of their monthly pay and saved for a check in the summer. Every teacher I know goes in on their vacation time to prep for the coming school year. I always went in on Saturdays b/c I could never finish the work during the week. People who don't appreciate teachers should homeschool their children. It's sad but I think people will always judge teachers instead of thanking them. There's a reason why most people leave the profession for an easier job after five years.

Anonymous said...

While I am not surprised, I am indeed so discouraged by the number of people who drink the class politics kool-aid of dividing people like teachers from other professions. That, my friends is class-warfare.

Anybody who has worked as a teacher, or who knows teachers closely understands that they are not overpaid, nor somehow doing less work than others. Besides, if the argument is that somehow teachers get paid too much for the work they actually do, I suggest two things: 1) really consider how you are defining "work" done, and 2) it might be better to go after investment bankers, financial consultants, CEOs, etc., who earn excessively, not on merit, nor on level of education, nor on direct social contribution, nor on hours worked... we could go on.

A teacher has to have specialized education, it requires certification, considerable time spent, and work/training to sustain those credentials. Moreover, a teacher has to pass exams to be able to practice (and often in different jurisdictions/states).

Teachers spend time at work that people just don't see: from grading, preparing classes, conducting assessment, learning themselves, advising, organizing school activities, etc., etc. because the work of being a good teacher does not end at 4pm.

The amount of advanced intellectual work that is also required of teachers (and yes, pedagogy is not child's play) legitimates a good pay, but instead they have to constantly scramble for basic resources. Now imagine those teachers who work in places where resources are non-existent, or where the buildings don't have good roofs (Wash. D.C.), or who work with special populations, and who have to educate parents and the community also, not just the kids.

Oh, but wait, teachers have to master new teaching standards, testing procedures, textbooks that are often political footballs... Teachers are constantly evaluated, have often stressful jobs, with populations that can be threatening, vulnerable to attack, and liable to get sued -- and often are under a microscope for anything they might say that somehow others could take offense at...

And teachers don't get more time off than others. That time in the Summer is prep work, curriculum planning, gathering resources, writing grants, engaging in training or recertification, or just plain working to make ends meet. Heck, schools are always trying to secure more funds for basic stuff to educate our children -- and teachers are the first line of defense.

And yet, so many try to attack teachers as somehow leeches that are paid plenty? That attitude is despicable. The fact is that neither police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, teachers, sanitation workers, or others such hard working folks get paid enough. Certainly not commensurate with the actual work and effort they put out, nor with the challenges of their respective professions. Their contributions are not always well regarded (in fact, they frequently are not valued very highly).

On the other hand we do have a class of folks in this country who love creating these divisions and pitting working people against each other. They claim teachers are overpaid, while they themselves - members of the chattering classes - rake in money for less work, education, stress and tears and not because they prepare with great attention and caring the next generation. Those are the same folks who argue against investment in education, but who later complain about our teachers and school system. Those same folks are beholden to a system that loves to create inequality, and they love to benefit from it.

David said...

Think about our military men and women, overseas for months on end, away from their families, seeing danger every day. Or right here at home as a firefighter, police officer, or EMT and being put in the countless dangerous situations that come with these jobs and then, on top of it, you get paid just as much, if not less, than these "whiney" teachers who are picketing all of the time. I think that teachers have a bad name at the present because the focus seems to be all about what they do not get and not about the results that we, as the public are not seeing. Don't get me wrong, I have had some wonderful teachers, who would make more money than Bill Gates if they were paid what they were worth. On the other hand, the majority of teachers that I have had found a nice state job with decent pay that they can coast on for the next 20 years. In Arkansas you have to work for 28 years as a police officer or firefighter to be eligible for retirement, it's 25 years for a teacher. It's nice to know that the strain of the job is taken into account. I'm sorry, but dealing with children all day is not the most stressful thing on earth. Before you think about how mistreated you, as a profession are, come try my job. Ride with a firefighter, police officer, or EMT for a night. Deal with the countless drunks, felons, and people who would like nothing more than to hurt you just because of the badge you wear. I promise, when the first baby dies in your arms, buying crayons and school supplies out of your own pocket just doesn't seem quite as bad. I'm sorry, but I have absolutely no sympathy. There are definitely other professions that need to be taken care of first.

Kate said...

"before you think about how mistreated you, as a profession are, come try my job."

Whiney, huh? That's not dismissive at all. I have never tried to conflate my role as a teacher with that of a firefighter or an EMT. Nor will I. But I have no idea what your job as, as you don't say.

However, what I will say is that if you dislike that teachers get to retire at 25 years of service and you don't, instead of talking about it, do something to make it equal instead of making it seem as if we're in some kind of competition with one another. We're not.

I know that teachers don't "coast." I also know that we as government employees should get treated better than we are, both those in the direct line of fire and those not. I refuse to believe that it must be you or me.

Anonymous said...


So sorry that you're so ignorant. Your educators must have been sub-par at my best.

I love my parents to death, but neither of them could have taught me how to write like my high school English teacher did, and neither of them could have taught me the calculus that my high school math teacher did.

Nice try, though.

6thandD said...

It is my opinion that teachers are the most unprofessional of all of the professions. And they seem to me to be the biggest whiners about how they are appreciated, or not. Teachers should be required to report to work at eight o'clock and work to five. Teachers should be allowed two weeks of vacation per year like the rest of us. Summers off? Only two weeks (but you can choose which two). Christmas break? Spring break? That's for the children isn't it? You as teachers could be planning how to fix subpar students. You are not respected by the public at large because you haven't earned that respect. You are paid better than any educational system in the world, yet you don't deliver the best educated kids come graduation day. I've had two kids move through the Montgomery County, MD school system - supposedly one of the best in the world. During the course of 13 years of schooling for each of my kids, I had to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on Sylvan Learning Centers, Ashley Tutors, and several private tutors. I feel as if my tax dollars were wasted. So, you can grouse all you want and write me off as ignorant, hateful, and bitter (I don't believe I am). But if you were to be evaluated as those are in my line of work you teachers wouldn't measure up. If each student in your classes are not A students, then you have failed in completing the task assigned to you.

Anonymous said...

Brain in Northern VA....

NO one here that isn’t a teacher works every hour they are at work like a teacher. As with every job I have had and know that you all have; I get to go to the bathroom when I want, stop and chat with co-workers, go to lunch, call in late and make up that time, get paid for over time, and have the benefit of having my time after work to do with what I want. (However, I spend it helping my wife grade papers.) Some jobs have a none stop pace, like that of a restaurant, but you dictate the pace. A teachers day is from the moment the bell rings to the moment they stop at home.

My wife’s day starts before school so that she can get ready before the 24 kids she is teaching gets there and doesn’t end when the last kid walks out. She has to have a meeting with her grade level, a parent, or just set the class up for the next day. Then she comes home uses most of her time between 6 and 11 to grade, put those grades into a profile she created for the parents to see (which she has to keep updated and provide information to the parents), plan for the next week and provide sub-plans in the event she has to take off or gets sick. (Which of you have to provide a sub-plan for someone to take over your position if you are not there?)

OH, yes! My wife has her Master’s in education and has to continue her certifications ever year while taking the mandated courses required for her to continue teaching. Anyone of you have to? I know EEO, sexual harassment, and the other yearly courses required from your employer each year, right? YOU GET PAID WHILE TAKING THEM. The summer you state she has off is used to do all of this. And yes we do use 100s of our own money setting up the classroom each year to provide a better teaching environment for students. Do any of you have to do this at work?
Please take the time you have worked where ever you are at, (pick a grade you believe you can teach) look up that teachers wages ask your employer to pay you that and you will take for the summer months (exactly what teachers get) to do more training that will not get you paid more. And then let me know how your year goes.
OK, here is mine - Salary Range in Virginia : BA $43,291 high 56,246 - MA $48,451 high $61,406.
You get to the higher levels over time in years working there, like every other job. I do not have a Master’s but I have two degrees, I have been in the industry for almost 10 years, I work 8 hour days. Let’s see – a teacher with the same stats makes just around $49,000. REALLY? After 10 years having a degree and putting in my time like I provided above? Who would do that? Any of you that aren’t teachers?

All I hear is a bunch of individuals that whine about how much teachers are talked about. Does anyone talk about the position you are in like that? NO, because you are not responsible for the education of the next generation that will run this country after you die. You are not responsible for teaching kids things that parents have forgotten to do themselves. You know why the tests scores are down? Because parents don’t sit down with their kids anymore and go over math, reading, or writing any more. You are not responsible and ridiculed by a fat, lazy, I want more, better than everyone country!

If you think teachers do not do their job and then teach your own kids. If you do not think teachers desire more (respect, support, or acknowledgement) then you should not be in whatever position you are now. The problem with education is not the teachers or schools. It is the people that doesn’t support them provide what they need to better educate this nations future. You invest in your retirement and even paid for insurance but you bitch about support/investing in this nations future and education? That truly makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

I do not hear anyone saying what they do, how much they make and what hours they work. I am the father of two and married to a teacher. Everyone here that provides some kind of negative statement about the teaching profession are delusional. I work for a research company sitting down looking at information scheduled for an 8 hour day. I served in the Marine Corps, former Army Officer, former Police Officer, former insurance salesman, a former auditor, and had a few other positions without my life.

Brian in Northern VA…

6thanD ? Really???
What do you do to call yourself a professional?
Whiners? They are looking for support from individuals lacking the intelligence you to educate this nations future. How many REAL hours are you working a day? Count it and let us know.
How many days do you get off? I get 13. But then I get sick leave and medical leave too, you?
Do you have to provide someone with information on how to do your job when you are not there?
Summers off? Spring Break? Most of the time is used doing something to prepare for getting back into the class.
SO you don’t take Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, or Labor Day off?
If the system isn’t working for you, then you teach your kids and see how far they get. No high school or college. Let’s see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: the question isn't whether teachers get paid "too much" or "not enough" for what we do. No one thinks they get paid enough for what they do. The question is... How much do we, as a people, value education?

I make $37,000/yr as a second-year teacher in one of the highest-paid counties in Florida. Ten years from now - masters or not - I will make around $46,000. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from my university and have consistently received satisfactory evaluations and positive feedback from my administrators, my co-workers have said that I'm an asset to the school, and my students' parents have expressed gratitude that I teach their children.

My boyfriend makes $71,000/yr with a masters degree. He is two years out of school. I cannot hope to make that in teaching, no matter how hard I work, unless I never move and have impeccable test scores for my entire career... And only 25 years from now could I hope to accomplish that.

$37,000 is a great starting salary for me as a single person without children just beginning a career... But where do I go from here? When I know that the POSSIBILITY of financial success is slim to none... When I can never get a promotion... Why should I stay?

And the biggest question isn't why I should stay... I'm not God's gift to education. The biggest question is what happens when talented, well-educated people don't feel that there are incentives to teach? What happens to the quality of our teacher workforce when our best candidates leave because they know they can be more successful somewhere else?

Wait, I know the answer! Our test scores go down, and then our politicians tell us we're failing I. Education compared to other countries, and insist its because we have bad teachers, who are all greedy and we should pay them less because they're not worth much anyway...

Anonymous said...

Let me see. Wife a Nurse in medicine with some specialitie's very hard to qualify for. forty years of experience who gets just twenty eight days of PTO, Personal Time Off. That's it. It's for vacation, sick time you name it. Her two sisters who teach school are off the long summer, Spring break, Winter break, all the holidays on the calandar. More time than any profession I know of. Nurse works ten to fourteen hours and teachers are off playing around no later than five PM. I hate the constant bitching of the teachers about how hard they have it.

Anonymous said...

You are all idiots.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit, most teachers are worthless.

Anonymous said...

If teaching is so damn hard, just quit. Problem solved. Then you can get a real job.