Monday, April 21, 2014

When the Media Asks “Are Teachers Overpaid?” Educators Ask “Are They Crazy?”

February 6, 2012 by twalker  
Filed under Featured News, Top Stories

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By Teal Ruland

“Are Teachers Overpaid?” A few weeks ago, the New York Times invited five academics to answer that question in its Room for Debate section. Why would the nation’s “newspaper of record”  bother? Research has overwhelmingly shown that public school teachers are paid relatively less than comparable workers, that their wages have been declining for decades, that U.S. teachers are paid less than their counterparts in most other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and that low teacher pay hurts recruitment and retention. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for doubling the salaries of new teachers and says that professional pay is essential to recruit and retain quality educators.  A recent faulty analysis, however, by two right-wing think tanks, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute,  concluded, believe it or not, that teachers were overpaid in comparison to “similarly educated and experienced private-sector workers.”

The authors of the AEI report, Andrew Biggs and Jason Richwine, participated in the NY Times debate to push their claim that teachers earn approximately 50 percent more than their counterparts in the private sector and that teachers receive salaries comparable to non-teachers who have similar SAT scores or other “standardized tests of cognitive skill.” However, “fringe benefits,” like “generous vacation time,” put teachers ahead of private sector workers.

Another contributor, Jeffrey Keefe, associate professor in the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, pointed out the many fallacies of AEI’s conclusions, which he spotlighted in a  formal review released last week by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC).  Keefe dismissed AEI’s report as an “aggregation of spurious claims” and  cautioned the media that such “headline-grabbing” arguments will result in ill-informed and harmful policy decisions.

“Any discussion of teacher compensation should be based on high-quality evidence,” Keefe warned, “[The AEI/Heritage] report does not advance that discussion.” (Read the press release and Keefe’s analysis)

But what do teachers think? The news media often chooses to spotlight the opinions of journalists, think tank scholars, and others who talk about education policies – whether its teacher pay, the achievement gap or NCLB –  without properly consulting the real experts in the classroom. So NEA Today asked teachers on its Facebook page to respond to the New York Times debate. Some criticized a contributor’s lack of understanding of what teachers do every day. Others pointed out the misperception over “vacations.” Or as one respondent simply asked – “Are they crazy?”

“Please don’t tell me I have my summers off,” wrote Janet. “I spent all last summer paying for my own continuing education for an endorsement that will not get me more money!” Like Janet, scores of teachers use their “summer vacations” to pursue professional development and continuing education to further enhance their skills.

Barbara commented that even after 35 years of teaching and taking pay cuts, she still loves her job.

“While cleaning a drawer last week I came across a paycheck stub from 2008. After 35 years in the classroom my current paycheck is smaller than the one I found last week. I’d cry, but I’m so over arguing with people. Yes, it’s easily sixty hours, five days a week, but I’m part of what makes this country great. Every child deserves the best every teacher has to deliver.”

When they say that teacher salaries are above those in the private sector,” asked Karen, “are they taking into account the private sector workers with masters degrees, like many, many of the teachers I know who pay to earn said degrees but never get increased pay to reflect them? Even though states say they want “highly qualified” teachers, and require professional development and continuous education credits, but never provide the increased pay to reflect it?”

Matt echoed the suspicions many educators have had over the past few years in asking why such a question was being asked.

“It is because teachers and public schools are under attack from ‘reformers’ who want to see public replaced by private charter, with lower paid, little benefit teaching jobs. My question is are bankers, politicians, and lawyers overpaid? Where is the article on that?”

“Teachers make a bigger impact on society over a longer time period than many other professions,” posted Brenda. “Who in the future will be lured into a profession with wages that start low and fail to keep pace with comparable careers?”

Read NEPC’s review of the AEI/Heritage study

Read the Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) Review

Read EPI’s The Teaching Penalty

__________________

NEA believes attracting and retaining qualified school staff – K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, and education support professionals (ESPs) – requires salaries that are competitive with those in comparable professions. Low teacher pay comes at a high cost for schools and kids, who lose good teachers to better-paying professions. Learn more about how NEA advocates for professional educator salaries by visiting www.nea.org/pay.

Comments

84 Responses to “When the Media Asks “Are Teachers Overpaid?” Educators Ask “Are They Crazy?””
  1. James Wintermote says:

    It’s a matter of simple economics and capitalism. If you want the best product, you usually have to pay a higher price. If you want the best empmloyees, you need to offer a competitive salary. In the profession of teaching, if school districts truly want the best teachers, they should be willing to offer better salaries and benenefits. I have seen first hand how teachers move away from states with lower salary scales and gravitate to the higher paying states.

    If pay is going to continue to be an issue with teachers across this nation and salaries are not going to become competitive, then perhaps states should not require teachers to have a degree. Going to college is a huge investment and people expect a return on their investments. Teachers are also required to earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses. I wonder what the quality of our nation’s teachers would be if they weren’t required to have a degree or continue their education.

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  2. al rinaldi says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  3. Silvia says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. mona says:

    Here’s what I know for sure:
    My husband and I each have a Master’s degree in our respective fields, and earned these degrees before starting full-time work. I have additional credits of post-graduate work (about 20 extra credits) – meaning I technically have more education than him. He has been employed at his company 6 years; I am currently in my 5th year of teaching.
    Our starting wage was disparate, but not enormously so (about $10,000 difference per year).
    Since then, he’s maintained nice raises each year. My district went on strike a few years back (wages, by the way, being at the bottom of the list of items we were striking over) and ended up with a 1.5% raise over 3 years.
    My husband and I are nearing a place where the amount his salary has increased due to raises over the years will be more than my TOTAL salary.
    Now, this may be an extreme example (and my husband is obviously extremely lucky to be in his field) – but come on, isn’t there something wrong with this picture?
    Don’t even get me started on the fact that his career required him to sign up for a (that’s right, just 1!) test to prove his competence and it was administered by the state for a cost $35 (which I believe his employer reimbursed him for). I have spent over $700 on various praxis tests – educators everywhere are padding the pockets of ETS, and that is ridiculous. To keep my teaching license I can do National Boards ($2500!) or a state-administered portfolio (for the comparatively low, low price of $550!).

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  5. Jed says:

    Silvia,
    It sounds like you’re comparing your 4th year teaching salary with your 1st year salary in the private sector. Your comparison really isn’t valid for another 3 years. Also, did you complete your master’s during your first 4 teaching years? Was its completion required for you to maintain your teaching certificate? Did you take these courses in the summer or concurrent with your teaching position? How many hours per week did you work while teaching? How many hours per week do you work in your private sector job?
    I think you’ve made a faulty comparison.

    Of course some private sector jobs are different, but many only require an 8hour work day. I get sick of hearing “summers off”. Comparing teaching to private sector jobs, actual work hours are nearly the SAME. The hours are just distributed differently throughout the year.

    Private sector = 1,960 work hrs/yr.
    Public Teacher = 1,950 work hrs/yr. + required college courswork!

    Explanation:
    52 weeks – 2 weeks vacation – roughly 5 holidays – the remaining weekend days = 245 work days in the private sector. At 8 hr days, that’s 1,960 hrs/yr. In many states, a teachers schedule requires 185 work days. There are extra work days for classroom set-up / break-down, say, 5 + 5. This takes us to 195 work days. Additional required college course work increases the total considerably, but I won’t even include those numbers here. Teaching hours are like ‘presentation’ hours in the private sector. There is A LOT of work required to prepare for each ‘presentation’ and assess student work outside of actual teaching hours. It is common for teachers to work 10 hour days. 195 work days at 10hrs per day puts teachers yearly total at 1,950 hrs/yr.

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  6. Amy says:

    The amount of hours I and all other teachers dedicate to our profession extends well after the hours in our classroom. Between lesson plans and creating materials to teach I work every bit of 80 hours a week. That’s down this year because I’m in my second year. My first year all I did was work. 12 hours at the school and then till 1 or 2 in the morning every night at home and forget about a weekend. But I’ll do that every year if needed because I love my job. What I do makes a difference. So our so called liberal holidays and vacations are not only well deserved but also needed in order for us to keep up with new teaching practices and professional development requirements. Teachers should be simply compensated for doing our job in its entirety. We buy classroom materials out of our own pockets and we sacrifice time we could be spending with our own children and family to go above and beyond for our nation’s youth. We just want to be paid for what we do–what we deserve. We are worth it.

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  7. celine says:

    My two cents: the researchers sound like my 8th graders—lack of critical thinking skills and did not do their due diligent with their research.

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  8. granola0 says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  9. james says:

    I am a school teacher and I make a comfortable living. For the amount of education that I have, I am underpaid. For those who post negatively… they have never put on the jock. They don’t know. If you have never been in the class room you can not comment. You can’t even listen to your school board for that matter. They have never put on the jock. For others to claim that we are overpaid is ridiculous. Summers off! A majority of us still find work (a lot of it is to remain active), but we have courses to take, curriculum to upgrade. Most people when they leave their job they go home. We take our work home with us. Yes, it is part of the job.
    Someone posted that we get all this extra money for coaching sports. Again, you have not put on the jock (no pun intended). I coach football,powerlifting, quiz bowl and baseball. All of this combined comes to about $3 per hour. In football alone I would spend 500 hours in practice/ prep time per season. Financially speaking it is not worth it to coach a sport. We teach and coach because we like it.
    If I am overpaid then you are overpaid.

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  10. Tom Jensen says:

    I am a NBCT that retired at the top of my district’s pay scale ($50,000) in 2006. I went to work in the private sector and immediately received a 30% pay raise. In addition to working (only)40 hours a week with NO papers to grade or off duty requirements, I was able to be treated as a valued asset and not as a wage slave.

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  11. Erin says:

    I chose to be an Intervention Specialist as a 2nd career. I was searching for a meaningful career and thought the benefits would be a nice bonus. Well, I feel exhausted. This job is a HUGE challenge. I have to remind myself that I am making a difference to stay motivated. Test pressure, highly qualified status, and adequate yearly progress constantly drag me down. I refuse to give up but the hurdles seem to be getting higher.

    I left a career with better pay, better hours, and less stress. I did have continuing education to maintain. I did have to work some weekends. I did my job and I was acknowledged and appreciated for it.

    Now, I do my job and get told to work harder – do more. I risk losing my position due to lack of seniority – not lack of effectiveness. I miss the common sense of the business world. I am well invested in my career as an educator and don’t plan to leave. I think the education world needs to find a better plan to acquire and keep qualified teachers.
    I know both worlds – educators DON’T have it any easier.

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  12. Robert says:

    Granola0,

    Each year my district adds a piece of technology that I need to learn. The intent of it is not to make my job easier, but to improve opportunities for my students. This year it was website software that allows my students access to homework assignments and lesson plans should they be absent or need make up work. This software has added considerable time and effort to my job as a teacher and it is not an expectation when I am evaluated. This WAS NOT required of me 10 years ago. BTW…the support staff and the administration DID NOT have to learn to use it. I don’t mind because it improves the opportunities for my students.

    As for HUGE stipends…Coaches make about $3,500 to $4,000 per sport coached. But, have you spent any time investigating what they do? Coaches are expected to run summer camps or off season conditioning programs at no extra pay. They scout their opponents, run fund raising activities, in some cases they care for their fields and facilities, and they go to clinics to improve their knowledge of the game. These ARE EXPECTATIONS of all coaches! Work the number of hours out; the stipend is a pittance compared with the hours spent related to this aspect of their job.

    I have TWO mater’s degress. My annual increase for BOTH of them was NOT $10,000!

    I am going to assume that you have not spent time investigating or reasearching these trends. If you did, your findings would have little support.

    Many people think that since they attended a public school that they are an expert. That is like me suggesting that I could resolve the problems in NASCAR team because I attend the races.

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  13. David Bigelman says:

    I was engineer for 5 years prior to becoming a teacher. My salary after 5 years was $106,000 a year. I took a year off to become a teacher. 9 years later I make $56,000 as a teacher. Since becoming a teacher I have taken more than 100 units of graduate and professional development coursework. I took no state tests to be an engineer. I’ve taken 12 as a teacher, all but one at my own expense.

    To sum it up, as a teacher in my early forties with twice the education, I make half what I did as an engineer in my early thirties.

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  14. Sandy says:

    I am not sure where GranolaO is getting the information from. I taught and worked on my Ph.D. courses at the same time for 4 years and am still working on it. It was/is grueling work, but I benefited from my new learnings and so did my students. It was gratifying to see my students’ reactions when I learned along with them and we tried some new things together. However, just FYI – my district will give me only $600.00 more once I earn that doctorate!!! I did not do it for the money, but because I love working with kids and keeping on top of the latest strategies and research on how we learn.

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  15. Debbie says:

    Did anybody ask how many teachers HAVE to WORK other JOBS during the summer just so they can make ends meet? Summers off? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!! I’ve been working 28 years and haven’t had a summer “off” yet!

    Walk a mile in my shoes and bills and see what you think about teaching!

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  16. Pete says:

    How about teachers who coach? In the “real world” of work, someone who puts in time beyond their 8 hour day often gets paid “time and a half”. If there’s a Saturday involved (as a wrestling coach, I’ve done plenty of those, typically 6:00 a.m. bus departure, 10:00 p.m. or later return time), those in other jobs/professions may get “double time”. Teachers who coach may make around 1/15 of their hourly wage equivalent (or less sometimes). We coach because we believe in co-curricular activities and their inherent benefits to our students. I hope others realize this when they talk about how much educators “have it made”.

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  17. Silvia says:

    Hi Jed,
    To answer a few of your questions: During my first year with LAUSD I earned $52,000 – $5,000 more than my current position. I had just completed my credential and Masters. Hours per week are the same as I am now expected to work some evenings and Saturdays. When I say “summers off,” I mean I did not have to report to a building. I could do lesson planning etc by the Merced River in Yosemite.
    I am not attacking teachers as overpaid. I am stating what I have found to be true in Los Angeles. This doesn’t appear to be true nationwide. I am not opposed to teachers’ benefits and pensions.I am pro-teacher and pro-union: I marched against Scott Walker of Wisconsin.

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  18. Tina Llopis says:

    Are they serious? I have 31 years of my life invested in teaching and have a love/hate relationship with most aspects of my career. I have taught grades 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12. I have determined that this is my final year to teach and with each (required) weekly, after school faculty meeting, I learn more and more about the requirements that our school district, state, and the feds are insisting teachers and schools implement. I, too am required to learn the new technology — for the kids. I don’t mind learning new skills because that’s what I’m all about. It’s made for an interesting life. I still enjoy working with students, I love when they’ve “discovered” something unknown to them and love watching their reaction when they share what they’ve learned with a peer or even with me. That surely has to be the absolute in my life. Here comes the “but”…. I am one who will question why our politicians do not come into a regular classroom on a regular basis and do what I do each and every day. They are the ones who make our laws and expect school districts/states to figure out how to fund these programs and meet their expectations.
    I’m particularly intrigued by the people who have huge signing/retiring bonuses. When politicians retire, do they have to worry about their health insurance, taxes, or income???? Certainly not! Looking forward, that is a serious concern of mine as well as other educational retirees.
    I think my salary is a decent one, however, I am only paid for the days I’m expected to be at school. Plus I did not take education as a career because I knew there was some big money to be made. I started teaching for the same reasons I’ve stayed in it…the kids. They are the best part of my job.
    It does bother me though, that as a single mother of two, my children and I qualified for the government’s free/reduced lunches at school. I could not accept that benefit, nor would I accept food stamps for my family. It simply bothers me that my family and I would qualify for those benefits.

    Like most educators, I also have a higher degree, to which I’ve earned $600.00 a year more, I have also held summer time jobs, after school jobs, and various workshops that have a stipend attached to them. My “free time” after school includes either catching up on the multitudes of emails sent from administration, parents, and sometimes students, grading papers, projects, and reports then adding those grades to the parent portal site, learning about new trends in education, going to after school meetings and workshops, looking up ideas on websites in order to go back to my classroom with something more to keep their attention.
    I feel torn because I do love working with children, but the added crap that we are required more and more is making it difficult to enjoy the most basic part of my profession.
    I know of few, if any other professions that have these same concerns.

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  19. cynthia says:

    It’s pretty well accepted that teaching salaries in the US have lost a lot of ground over the past 20 years. NEA where were you? After 23 years of teaching fulltime in Vermont, I finally crossed the $55G salary mark. I give nearly $600 of this annually to NEA. My last raise just covered the increased required retirement deduction, under the new retirement agreement supported by VT-NEA. At retirement I’ll receive a whopping 53% of average final salary in a low-salary state (most will get 60% now) I don’t see myself ever being able to afford to retire, though once you’re age 55 or at the top of the salary grid, you are a real target for a “job cut” so you can be replaced by a first-year teacher for less money, so it may be closer than I think! Teaching salaries in most of VT are generally low, though the cost of living here is not. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay more—the public sector problem for teachers. All too often increases in funding seem to stay at the administrative levels, and don’t really filter down to us “professional” teachers. I’m told that our central office administrators just got salary increases to be competitive with the highest paid “metro” area in the state, but teachers in rural VT are lightyears away from our salaries being anywhere near competetive with those in that high-salary area, at least 10 years behind that particular curve. If teachers were to propose such salary increases, we’d be laughed out of the room.
    Salary grids around here are designed so you “top out” after between 10 (VT-NEA advises) to 17 years of teaching, but retirement looks at teaching as a 30 year (or more) career. So after you are stuck at the top of the grid, you can expect to receive only small pay increases for the second half or two-thirds of your teaching career. just as your oldest child is getting ready to go off to college probably. Just as you’re perhaps beginning to consider your AFS for retirement planning. (Oh, to be teaching in a high salary state that pays 90% or 100% of AFS in retirement, as do all the states nearby except for one, according to VT-NEA) No, I’m not moving. It just is what it is- a double whammy. My
    teacher prep courses in college neglected to educate me about these finer points.
    More and more is being asked of us each year, which means way more hours worked—and what teacher works only their contracted hours anyway? That’s where much of the salary problem arises. Stick to contracted hours only, and the salaries aren’t bad at all. It’s all the additional hours that most of the public is unaware of that get you. Boards, too, are just as unaware, often viewing the teaching job as what they SAW it to be when they were in school 20 to 40 years ago. (In reality, teaching was more than a fulltime job back then, but that was even less common knowledge.) We need to educate boards and the public about the hours we work and the ever-increasing demands of teaching, which have escalated dramatically since my first years of teaching, and especially in the past 8 to 10 years. Most non-teachers believe we have evenings and weekends for our personal lives, for instance. Ha! If teachers were paid overtime, we’d all be raking it in!
    Our most recent school newsletter to parents cited the caring and dedicated teachers who arrive early, eat lunch with kids, stay late, etc. Not mentioned were the evening, weekend, vacation, summer hours we spend in the building and at home….etc. It’s great to be referred to as caring and dedicated, but what about being compensated for just some of this? Yes, there are teachers who work contracted hours only and leave the job completely at school, but they are not at all representative of the profession, though they just may be the real winners in the teacher salary realm.
    Does it make teachers greedy to want to be compensated for some of the over-the-top job expectations that most of us spend our off-the-clock hours on? Here’s the argument back: “Well, if you feel you have to be paid for every little thing….”. The additional 15,18, or 20 hours I put in each week is not the same as “every little thing”. Not by a long shot. It’s the difference between having a real personal life and half of one. As your JOB teaching bleeds over into too much of your life, you can be very aware of it, but you can’t stop it, short of quitting.
    There are many different but similar jobs within teaching, and all are valid. We need to stop arguing amongst ourselves over coaching pay, PE and kindergarten and art teaching, etc. and just realize that we are all professionals, or so they keep telling us, just not necessarily treated or paid as such. Teaching can be fine as a second income, but not so good as an only income. I no longer advise anyone to go into teaching unless they knowingly want to work a job and a half for one fulltime salary, or are independently financially set. If WE don’t educate the public and boards AND stand up strongly for ourselves in negotiations, no one else will.

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  20. Raechel says:

    Most people I encounter do seem to know that teachers put in all kinds of hours beyond the contract. I am in my twelfth year teaching middle school English. Like so many, I really love my job. I actually worked in the private sector (hotel management) prior to teaching. The funny part is that I went back to school to get my masters degree and teaching credential to get away from all the work hours. Ha! The real difference is that my extra hours are not “on duty” now.

    I have always maintained that I am compensated well, in a general sense. I like/need the time off and the benefits are pretty good (at least for now). My high school English teacher warned me against becoming an English teacher for all the time essays take to grade. I didn’t listen. But, you can imagine what grading 130 middle school essays is like. Preparing 7th graders for the annual state writing test means A LOT of writing needs to take place. Of course, that is the job, along with other grading, lesson planning, parent meetings, numerous committees, etc. The pay is fine, but the job requirements (especially with state test demands) are near impossible to do all well. It wouldn’t matter if I was paid $100,000/year! I wish the public could understand that last point. Yet, there are more and more demands as the years go by . . .

    Despite all this, I would still rather teach than return to hotel management (which I tried the summer of 2009 and hated). I needed that lesson.

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  21. Caitlin says:

    What Raechel pointed out at the end of her post is the most crucial element I see in teacher complaints. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to DO all of the required assignments. Our zone is going to be adding another hour to the teaching day. I already cannot keep up with all of the demands. They think the pay increase makes up for this (And the whopping extra 10 minutes of prep time being added). As Raechel said, extra pay is nice; but if the job requirements are impossible, adding to them makes it more so– no matter how much money gets sent your way to do it. Yes, better pay would ease some finanacial tension, but it doesn’t make doing a good job possible. I was brought up by a teacher & a store manager/farmer. I was taught that what the baoss asked for, he/she got. Every time I sit down to work on something, I can barely focus because there are 10 other things I “should” be doing as well. I kept track of the hours I actually worked last year. (Don’t do this! It will make you too sad.) When I hit the end, I had worked 51 40-hour weeks. I think that becomes 1 week of vacation. And even with that number of hours, I felt perpetually behind.
    Many of the posters are correct, we need to educate the public about what this job has become. Like another teacher, I cannot keep up with the workload & give MY family even half of what they deserve. Somebody else,not just teachers, has to start dealing with society’s deficits. We cannot fix everything in a school day & teach.

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  22. Tonya says:

    You have got to be joking! I make 40,000 a year and owe 57,000 in student loans because I had to pay for my own education to become a special education teacher. I do not make enough money to start paying back my student loans. I am still in deferment after 8 yrs of teaching. Was it worth me becoming a teacher…….No! I should of chosen a different major that would of made more money so I would of been able to pay back my student loans.

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  23. This kind of logic will ultimately kill both the public and private schools. Claims that teachers are overpaid generally include statistics of “average salaries” inflated by those who have thirty years’ worth of tenure and some who are also administrators. Moreover, the benefits teachers receive are comparable with many other professions, including hospital personnel, and for the same reason; teachers are exposed to a wide variety of infectious diseases and are thus more likely to become ill. When teaching a roomful of students from five or six countries who may or may not be properly documented immigrants (and thus screened for things like tuberculosis), the health hazards can run quite high.

    What these pundits want if simply an excuse to privatize a public system. In Indiana, where I teach, the situation is complicated by having a State Superintendent of Education who was formally on the board of a major for-profit charter school company, and whose wife is still a board member. He stands to make a hefty profit by selling our community schools off to charters, including those in which he has a personal financial stake. The worst part of this is that the vouchers will eventually ruin both systems. The public schools will become the dumping grounds for those students who are expelled from private institutions. Meanwhile, the privately owned schools will become dependent upon public funding and will be ripe targets for nonsensical regulations imposed by those who hold the purse-strings. Evenually the private system will be hamstrung by the same short-sighted policies that have ruined the public system, and we will then have destryoed both.

    I am a strong social and fiscal conservative, but some institutions simply do not lend themselves to privatization. Privatizing the military would be foolish indeed, yet with the rise of “private contractors” we have done just that and had to endure the inevitable problems of so doing. In a similar fashion, privatizing the public educations system is not a wise idea. It polls well enough that politicians will do it, but as Thomas Sowell once wrote, it often makes political sense to kill the goose who lays the golden eggs.

    Instead, I would suggest taking a look at the structure of our educational system itself. We still run schools under the assumption that physical age is a reliable predictor of academic readiness, something all of our research vehemently denies. In addition, shouldn’t charter schools be serving the students who fail to perform well in the public school setting rather than draining the public system of those already succeeding in it? I see a place for charter schools in the system as alternatives for those students failing to succeed in the public system. Give them more leeway for things like discipline and allow them to experiment with structural changes. I would not be opposed to military-style charters for students with disciplinary issues who impede the learning process in a regular classroom.

    The push toward charters and vouchers is simply a matter of politicians being led by the polls rather than using common logic and true leadership. Attacking teachers as overpaid whiners is simply a rhetorical tool to that end.

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  24. Please excuse the typos in my last post!

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  25. Margaret says:

    When I got tired of hearing “you teachers are always on vacation” I added up all the additional hours I put in beyond my teaching day with scoring student work, grades, meetings, parent meetings, conferences, and any professional development (which is typically on my time and my dime) it was well over 320 hours, which equals eight 40 hour weeks. I have 3 advanced degrees besides my bachelors degree. Am I over paid? I don’t think so. The next time a friend made that comment (he was a police officer) I told him all of the above and he was shocked. The public doesn’t realize what teachers do and how much time they put in to be current, to be the best teacher they can be, and to deliver quality lessons to our students.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  26. Teresa says:

    First of all, I work out with a former NY teacher who retired and moved to TN. His retirement is more than 2 years of my pay in either OH or TN where I have worked. Basing this article on the teachers in NY would not be relevant to the rest of the country. I topped out at 12 years and have now been teaching for 32 years. Also, if my insurance or any of the things they take out of my pay goes up, that means my income goes down. It has steadily declined over the last few years. I also took a $5000 pay cut in moving from a poverty stricken county in Ohio to a wealthy county in TN. That amazed me! I don’t understand how teacher pay is decided or distributed. I have many friends and friends’ husbands who do not have nearly the education I have but make double and triple what I make, with the same amount of paid vacation I have off in the summer. Also, their education of any kind is paid for by their companies and they receive more pay for any training or education they receive. My education comes out of my meager salary and other than a new degree, is required but makes absolutely no difference in my pay.

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  27. Chris says:

    Interesting how the “poorly rated” comments get wiped out while the highly rated ones are move visible. I guess that is the NEA’s way of stifling opinions and hiding arguments that run counter to their preferred position. My earlier post got over 50 likes, but is still hidden unless someone clicks on it, and even then the font is so dim that it is hard to read. Nice strategy NEA.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  28. Dave says:

    I was laid off from a private sector job where I was earning over $90K/yr and had 4 weeks vacation. Any required, or desired education expenses were reimbursed by my company. My job went away due to aquisitions and a downturn in the computer industry. I was over 50, male, and generally unhireable in the field that I had worked in for nearly 20 years. There was a shortage of science and math teachers in my area so I took the required tests and began teaching at an inner city High School. I never thought teaching would be easy, but could not believe how truely hard it is. That first year was grueling, and the pay was just over $32K. I worked every weekend, late into the nights, and was pink slipped in the spring. The next three years I taught at a middle school, which made high school look like a walk in the park. I had no equipment, textbooks, or running water in my science room. I funded all my lab supplies and most of my printing out of my own pocket. During the first 5 years of teaching I had to take summer work in order to make up for my loss in pay. All this time I was taking as many courses as I could in order to become better at what I was doing. I’m currently on February “Break”, which has been spent correcting mid-term exams, and writing my final research paper for my required masters degree. At my age I will never recover the costs of the masters degree with my $3200 pay increase.

    Teaching is different. The closest private sector job that comes close is a middle level manager position, but few middle level managers have up to 150 reports that they need to monitor daily and file reviews on bi-quarterly. Find me a management position that starts at $32,000 and requires a masters degree within 5 years, paid for out of your own pocket. That is the job I want to be compared to, not standard jobs based on education and SAT scores.

    Teachers are NOT over paid, and we should be grateful they are willing to do what they do in order to provide children with a brighter future. If pay was hire, we might attract some more talented teachers, and might not. The low pay certainly chases many away in the first 5 years. Perhaps if the pay scales were doubled some of them would stay.

    But we also must be realistic. Government spending and taxing is out of control. I don’t want to be selfish and burden others by increasing their tax expenses. In the private sector the company owners were responsible for generating the capitol to pay our salaries. The government is not charged with raising capitol, and can only do so by taking from producers. Heck, most of the parents of my students don’t even pay taxes.

    BTW, in the private sector no one is overpaid. Everyone is paid what they are worth or they don’t work at all. Right now I’m happy to have a job. An added bennefit is I know I am positively influencing the lives of most of my students. This is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but it is also the only job that puts a smile on my face every morning when I go in to greet my students. I can’t put a dollar amount to that.

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  29. Michelle Barnhill says:

    99% of Americans probably couldn’t handle being a teacher. They have no idea what we do and how much we care. “You” send your children and grandchildren, future care givers, mechanics, doctors, lawyers, policemen, firemen, service workers, and businessmen to us so that we can teach and prepare them for life…then “you” want us to make less money…hmmmm…”you” are asking for a grim future for “yourself”…better think about this a little more, after all that is what your former teachers taught you how to do and you wouldn’t be where you are without them!!!! :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. Marge says:

    April 16,2012

    In talking with non-teaching individuals who feel that teachers are “overpaid” I usually ask what hourly wage their weekend sitter makes…maybe $5.00 per hour to “supervise” their children? If you take just five dollars and multiply that by twenty-five students(the size of a usual class), then by six and one half hours (a usual school day), then by one hundred eighty days (a usual school year), you will arrive at a sum of 146,250 dollars. I would have to say that “any” teacher does much more than “supervise” twenty-five students in a school year and that all teachers are much more educated and dedicated than the sitter parents hire for their children. I would dare say, without even doing the research, that there are few if any public school teachers who make this salary even taking into account the benefits their respective school district may provide. I seriously doubt that any “teacher” starts out with a salary anywhere near this amount…it may take a masters degree and ten to fifteen years of teaching to possibly get half of that amount. And pension? Of course teachers deserve every penny of it…for all the years they didn’t earn their “sitter” salary.

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  31. Mike says:

    Yes you won’t get rich, but a week off for spring break, a week off for fall break, 2 weeks off for Xmas break, all state and federal holidays, and NINE weeks off for summer isn’t all that terrible.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  32. Derek says:

    I have been a teacher for 12 years. Early in my career, I learned my craft from some experienced, kind, and generous teachers with years of classroom time. I never hear the media, politicians, or business people say anything negative about the families that send children to school without the manners and respect needed to learn. I am a conservative in most of my political views, but it really bothers me that conservative politicians, newscasters, and business people think that “holding teachers accountable” is the way to improve our education system. A good education starts in the home. Children I work with that come from a home where the parents are in their business tend to be more successful and studious. This is obvious. Conservative media, politicians, and business people that have put teachers under the gun are making a huge mistake for our future. Many of them espouse a competitive environment where the best teachers are rewarded with higher pay. How stupid. Teaching is not a business. If you make me competitive with other teachers, than maybe I won’t show the same kindness and generosity those experienced teachers showed me early in my career for fear that my fellow teacher’s students may outscore mine based on some sage techniques I shared with him/her. I played sports for many years and served on active duty in the Marines and Army. I coach sports now and love competition. It does not belong in the classroom or on a school campus between teachers. How will students be placed if we are competing for pay based on test scores? Will we have exactly the same amount of students with issues that require extra time and attention? Ignorance and stupidity has gripped the national media, politicians, and the business world. I am pro-business, but I won’t tell you how to sell computers or pizzas and you should not be telling educators how to educate with stupid ideas and ignorance on your side.

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  1. [...] discovered that something I said on Facebook was included in an article in NEA Today (“Karen” is me!), and then responded to my friend’s “like” with: [...]

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  2. [...] Ruland, T. (2012, February 06). When the media asks “are teachers overpaid?” educators ask “are they crazy?”. Retrieved from http://neatoday.org/2012/02/06/when-the-media-asks-are-teachers-overpaid-educators-ask-are-they-craz... [...]

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