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ARE TEACHERS BADLY PAID? Is a starting salary of $80,000 too low?

The NEA text is in light font, with some minor edits and my comments are bolded.  Also, I have tried to avoid conclusory comments other than questioning the way the NEA has used numbers to make their point. In some cases, eg gender disparity in pay, my comments reinforce those of the union.

A recent report by the NEA notes that only 5 percent of the students in a recent survey of college-bound students were interested in pursuing a career in education, a decrease of 16 percent between 2010 and 2014.  The NEA blames this, and the high rate of turnover in starting teachers, on what they claim is a pay gap.  I went through their arguments and have made some comments.

 

Average teacher salary has increased by 11.5% over the last decade, when taking inflation into account, average teacher salary has actually decreased by 4.5%, according to new data from the teachers union. NEA. Has there actually been a total of 16% inflation over the last ten years??? 

The average public school teacher salary in the U.S. for the 2017-18 school year was $60,477, according to the NEA’s annual report, but state averages varied greatly – from more than $80,000 in states like New York, California and Massachusetts to less than $47,000 in Mississippi, West Virginia and Oklahoma.  TEACHERS ARE WELL PAID IN BLUE STATES, BADLY PAID IN RED STATES! 

The average classroom teacher salary for 2018-19 school year is projected to increase by 2.1 percent over the 2017-18 school

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A major issue with the NEA’s claims is that the union’s objectives often conflict with the pay goal. As the union faces higher and higher turnover, more and more of its members are at the entry level. As a result, it is natural for teachers unions to bargain for statrting wages rather than merit pay.

year, from $60,477 to $61,730, according to the NEA report, in part.  That is about the inflation level but, as the NEA itself notes, there is a lot of turnover in teaching.  So this reflects a beginning wage in a profession where a major pay incentive is tenure. 

The NEA fails to correct their adat for the school year. Teachers work about 3/4 of a year. That is also a form of pay incentive since it opens up free time and the opportunity to work summer jobs. Corrected for the 9 month work year, the average teacher pay is $82,100.
Nearly 300 school districts pay first-year teachers less than $30,000 a year. I will bet you where those shithole districts are! 

Average weekly wages of public school teachers (adjusted for inflation) decreased $27 from 1996 to 2017, from $1,164 to $1,137 (in 2017 dollars). In contrast, the weekly wages of other college graduates rose from $1,339 to $1,476 over this period.  Hmmm, this is also the period where tech blossomed.  I would bet that the $137/week gain in pay for college grads has more to do with that sector then anything about teachers. Moreover, in the same period tech jobs have become largely the gig economy where benefits and retirement are lousy.  Meanwhile nonwage benefits made up a greater share of total compensation for teachers (28.6 percent) than for professionals (21.9 percent). The teachers union does not discuss the issue of job security! 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning policy organization, teachers are paid 21 percent less than similarly educated and experienced professionals. The issue here is how to compare apples and oranges. What professions are ” similarly educated and experienced professionals?”  The same period has seen huge shifts in the jobs people take. I wonder how teacher pay compares to the pay of english grads working for Starbucks or MBAs working for the banks? 

Teachers are more likely to quit when they work in districts with lower wages and when their salaries are low relative to alternative wage opportunities, especially in high-demand fields like math and science. (Economic Policy Institute. left wing think tank)  The problem here is that teachers unions fight against incentive pay teachers with specialized knowledge.  

The so-called “teacher pay gap” reached an all-time high in 2018, experts have said, exacerbated by the gender gap in wages. Women earn about 80 percent of men’s salaries across the spectrum of full-time jobs, and historically, teaching has been a profession made up mostly of women. Today, 77 percent of educators are women.  This is a valid point, pink jobs vs blue jobs!  It would be interesting to compare other unionized public sector jobs .. eg the police vs the teachers! 

 


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  1. Irene Sysak, from FACEBOOK #
    1

    Irene Sysak Stephen Schwartz I dont need to read the whole post, I’ve lived it! And the headline is incorrect so why bother? As a teacher in nyc with about 10 years experience I can tell you from experience, forget about that “article”, that is not the case! You only get tenure in public schools after at least 4 years of regular full time employment under your license In the Same school and then your tenure depends on the principal, some refuse to recommend you for tenure do that is not guaranteed or automatic. Also to get tenured yiu need to have your Professional license, which In order to get you news to teach for 5 years. Secondly, yes what is 9 months work? 60k is not base pay and teachers don’t get any extra pay for any trainings, that is done during regular work days called PD days. Even for UFT trainings and workshops, teachers have to pay $ for that out of pocket. I spent roughly $500 of my own money just to get my class ready and I was not reimbursed. With a Masters from NYU, I worked for $50-55k (and that’s gross pay) in a NYCEEC (not public schools with no unions) for over 5 years, that is why I was so desperate to get into a public school. So the National mean of 60k is by no means the national mean for teachers!!! And is that gross pay? After everything is taken out for taxes, dues, insurance, etc. what are you left with to live on? Also the starting salary again depends on so many things like your education, licenses, years of experience, the schools you work at and believe me that outside of the DOE, ALL other schools try to hire teachers at the lowest possible starting salary, even the highly experienced ones and even those subsidized by the gov to save money and forget about any raises or bonuses after that!!

  2. theaveeditor #
    2

    Irene Sysak on FACEBOOK

    I dont need to read the whole post, I’ve lived it! And the headline is incorrect so why bother? As a teacher in nyc with about 10 years experience I can tell you from experience, forget about that “article”, that is not the case! You only get tenure in public schools after at least 4 years of regular full time employment under your license In the Same school and then your tenure depends on the principal, some refuse to recommend you for tenure do that is not guaranteed or automatic. Also to get tenured yiu need to have your Professional license, which In order to get you news to teach for 5 years. Secondly, yes what is 9 months work? 60k is not base pay and teachers don’t get any extra pay for any trainings, that is done during regular work days called PD days. Even for UFT trainings and workshops, teachers have to pay $ for that out of pocket. I spent roughly $500 of my own money just to get my class ready and I was not reimbursed. With a Masters from NYU, I worked for $50-55k (and that’s gross pay) in a NYCEEC (not public schools with no unions) for over 5 years, that is why I was so desperate to get into a public school. So the National mean of 60k is by no means the national mean for teachers!!! And is that gross pay? After everything is taken out for taxes, dues, insurance, etc. what are you left with to live on? Also the starting salary again depends on so many things like your education, licenses, years of experience, the schools you work at and believe me that outside of the DOE, ALL other schools try to hire teachers at the lowest possible starting salary, even the highly experienced ones and even those subsidized by the gov to save money and forget about any raises or bonuses after that!!

  3. theaveeditor #
    3

    IRENE:

    Stephen Schwartz Irene Sysak
    I am sure you are telling the truth. However, the peice you do not want to read is from the NEA and represents my comments on their recent report of the teacher wage issue.
    Of course, I know that 80K is not what you were paid. I also, know that there are huge disparities. I think a lot of the problem with teacher pay reflects the fact, discussed by the NEA, that pay ranges over a vast scale.
    The number, if you read the piece, is also based open the all too real fact that there is a huge turnover in teachers. The way the NEA data is presented, it is difficult to actually determine real pay. The article explains that. Other issues include the school year, income that goes into retirement and health, etc.
    n
    Let me try to show you an example from your own response. I determining pay, comments like stock options ..that teachers do not get .. need to be included. The same is true for tenure. You say “You only get tenure in public schools after at least 4 years of regular full time employment under your license In the Same school and then your tenure depends on the principal,” is called “present value.” The budget folks need to include the commitments developing in these 4 years toward that present vlaue. Four years is a very small time so it should be included in “beginning pay.”
    You also point out that the 60k mean pay for beginning teaches does not include what is “is taken out for taxes, dues, insurance, etc.” Of curse that is true but that is also true for every other job!
    .The nyou ask “what is 9 months work?” Again, any accountant will tell you Finally, youi that months worked needs to be included in determining pay. Is that fair? What is the value of 3 months off?
    I know that the union says “teachers don’t get any extra pay for any trainings, that is done during regular work days called PD days. ” BUT that creates another dilemma. The base pay in some states, including my own,m is set by the state. The union negotiates a contract based on these extra days. Those contracts are at the District level,. Here in Seattle, the base pay for a starting teacher is 60k but the contract adds about another 70k.
    Finally, you say that “the starting salary again depends ” your education, licenses, years of experience, the schools you work at a” Yes? So? A big issue in the article you do not want to read is whether all fo that is a good thing? Would we be able to hire more teachers if we did not require much of that? Is amath major working for Starbucks less qualified than an ed school graduate?
    I have a cousin who retired as a teacher in NYC. His complaints echo yours. He was an english major and wanted to teach so as to use his education and be able to write. Ghe way the system worked he never got to do that.



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