The stagnation of teacher salaries
For a while there, the Cornelius household has been contemplating a return to the beloved home state. I began to surreptitiously investigate school districts back home.
Then I told my husband he'd better make a whole lot more money back there.
If I moved back to Oklahoma, EVEN ASSUMING that they gave me credit for all my years of experience, I would take nearly a thirty thousand dollar pay cut.
Thirty! Thousand! Dollars!
And probably more, since most districts do NOT give full credit for experience. I mean, that's an entire beginning teacher's salary, which, accoding to a report out from the American Federation of Teachers, averages $31,753.
Now look, I never thought that I would get rich at this gig, nor am I really interested in getting rich. I'd like to be able to afford to send my kids to college, though (let me assure you that teacher pay has not kept up with the rising price of college, either).
Here are a few interesting facts from the post at AFT's Let's Get It Right blog:
The average teacher pay in 2005 was $47,602. Beginning teacher pay was $31,753.
Average and Beginning wages didn’t keep pace with inflation in 2005.
Real salaries for experienced teachers in the largest cities rose by less than 1 percent in 2006. Average raises for beginning teachers were up by 1.3 percent.
Between 1995 and 2005 real pay in the private sector rose by 12.7 percent. Real beginning teacher pay rose by 3.3 percent. Average teacher pay rose by 1 percent.
When compared to professions requiring similar education, real teacher pay rose by less than 1 percent over the five years 2000-2005. Pay for other professions rose by more than 6 percent.
A beginning teacher with the average student loan burden could expect to spend almost 9 percent of her take home pay on loans in 2006.
In 15 of the 50 largest cities in America a mid-career teacher can’t afford the median priced home.
Let me point out a few facts. In this 2004 article from San Francisco,
... home ownership in San Francisco is almost completely out of reach for teachers in the city. According to the California Budget Project, it takes a monthly income of $10,308.08 to buy a median-priced home in the city, but a teacher makes just $4,160.75.California school districts such as San Jose Unified, Santa Clara Unified, San Diego Unified already have programs to help teachers afford housing near where they teach. My sister taught in the San Diego area, and still could not afford a home, nor even rent.
Now, here in the vast Land Between the Coasts, the situation in not THAT dire, but salaries have certainly been stagnating in the last few years. And if you live in a so-called "Right to Work" state, chances are that teachers lack the ability to officially engage in collective bargaining. All it takes is one confrontational superintendent to be hired, and districts around here can change the terms of teachers' contracts at will.
It's not so much about me, either. I reached the top of our district's salary scale this year, and got a very lovely increase in salary from moving up a step (add in the fact that we no longer have to pay child care for the first time in thirteen years, and it seems like we've just become Enron execs, figuratively speaking. How wonderful that college is just around the corner!). But I worry about those teachers in the middle as well as those at the bottom.
There's a lot of noise made by a certain sector of the population about how teachers are lazy and overpaid-- John Stossel has been a prominent mouthpiece for this viewpoint. Here's the basic story: teachers don't work an 8 hour day, teachers get three months of vacation, and two weeks at Christmas, and Spring Break too.
Let me explain this gently: teachers spend 6.75 hours each day, with a 22 minute lunch, followed by an average of an hour to an hour and a half of unremunerated work spent planning lessons and grading papers, including time spent on weekends. Teachers do not even have the ability to go to the restroom when the need arises.
In the state in which I live, teachers are pretty much required to have a master's degree after teaching for six or so years. My school district did not pay for my master's degree-- I was expected to pay for it myself. My husband's company has paid for him to earn one master's degree and two graduate certificates, and they would pay for him to go to law school, if he should so desire.
Teachers do not get ANY paid vacation. We are paid over the summer with money we earned during the school year.
I am here because I love teaching and helping students. I enjoy their sense of humor, I enjoy watching the spark of understanding in their eyes. I know lots of teachers who feel the same way.
The least we can expect is to be able to have a hearth and home while we labor to educate young minds and often heal wounded souls as well.
Labels: teacher compensation