Man, am I getting sick of hearing how badly teachers are fleecing us. Non-stop on Fox, echoed throughout the corporate media, teachers and public employees are crooks. Especially those college-educated members of the “liberal elite,” the teachers…these socialistic slackers work just 9-months a year, yet get subsidized pensions, partially-subsidized health care, “Cadillac” benefit plans, all on the back of the taxpayer.
These bastards have it made. For an average minimum six-figure investment in their 6 or so years of education, teachers command a whopping starting salary from $25-53k, depending on location. The average new math teacher makes $38,211. Most public (resident) liberal arts undergraduate-level programs now take 5 years to complete. In many states, regardless of level taught, public schoolteachers must have a Master’s degree. That adds another two years of training and expense. It’s cheaper to train to become an engineer, an MBA, a Public Affairs Director, a CPA, an IT professional as well as numerous other careers that return far greater immediate and long-term monetary reward than teaching. So why would anyone train to be a teacher?
The “pat” answer is that teaching is a vocation rather than a mere career and this can indeed be true. If one doesn’t love to teach, chances are that they’ll find out early and choose another path. But that’s also true of many career options. To suggest that because teachers are “called” they should be paid less than comparably trained business professionals, for instance, is absurd. I must ask, “Why?”
Next, critics claim that teachers work only 9 months (but get paid for 12). While it’s true that teachers contract for designated hours in a predetermined school year, that doesn’t mean their work is confined to that schedule. It rarely is. Ask the spouse of any teacher. And the school year has gotten longer. Summer break is now closer to 2 months–in schools that don’t already go year-round.
That’s not to say salaried workers in business don’t burn the candle at both ends, they do–and most don’t get anything near 3 months off. Even so, if one annualizes teacher salaries before comparing them to the yearly compensation of similarly schooled and seasoned business professionals, any disparity vanishes. Further, annual raises in business are typically larger and there’s a possibility of promotion in business v. education. Negotiated raises in teaching are small and wage increases occur at much slower rates.
Teachers have no profit sharing. Stock options after many years of service for senior teachers? Fat chance. Business travel? Nope. No frequent flier miles or travel perks, no corporate credit cards…no commissions, no incentives…no celebratory junkets to reward sales goals, no expense accounts. No annual conferences, no hospitality suites…no business lunches. Lunch “hours” are 30-minutes, and no longer. Oh, and if ever a lunch is provided, lucky them, it’s pizza from the PTA. Teachers get kicked, scratched, punched, molested, spat upon, sued and much worse.
If a teacher is the sole wage earner in a household, many find it impossible to get past accrued college debt to afford starter homes. Working just 9-10 months a year, many just can’t make ends meet. They take summer jobs or teach all year (and still earn less than their corporate counterparts).
How about pay for private sector “Joe Schmoe”? The Bureau of Labor and Statistics report it at $58k ($41,000 for salary; $17,000 for benefits).
A new graphic, he said, showed the unweighted average for Wisconsin teachers for the 2010 school year: a $51,000 salary, plus $30,000 worth of benefits (for a total of $81,000 worth of compensation). For an average private sector worker, he said, the salary in 2010 was $46,000 with $20,000 worth of benefits (total compensation $66,000).
Those revised numbers are much closer to the ones we found.
Still, this fails to take into account the difference in the backgrounds of each group. The teachers have much more education than those represented in this private sector quote.
In order to be a teacher in Wisconsin, you’ve got to have a 4-year college degree. And 52 percent of Wisconsin teachers also have a master’s degree. That’s much, much higher than the average education level for workers in the private sector. People with higher degrees in education typically get paid more.
We found two studies that factored in such things as education level, years of experience, race, gender, etc. and found that public employees tend to make a little less than people with similar backgrounds in the private sector.
As a result, any conclusion drawn from comparing these cohorts is at best, conjecture. It’s just not “apples to apples”.
Like I said, I’m sick of this. The media lies because its owners have an agenda. Those lies spread like wildfire and fuel political operatives, who use them as strategic communications upon which they base unified action, in turn covered and reinforced by the same media that created the “Buzz”. In the process, innocent, gullible people are sucked in and our social fabric is torn as the GOP and its oligarchic backers laugh all the way to their banks.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. And stop being so disrespectful…or it’s “head down on your desk.”