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Greedy Teachers Union Asking For More Money

The average salary for an entry-level educator is over $30,000...and the teachers complaining?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the mean hourly income for all American workers is $17.75 per hour, or roughly $35,500 per year, going on 40 hours a week and 50 weeks a year (assuming that most people might miss an average of two weeks for vacation, sickness, etc.). Even if you include those two weeks you get $36,920 per year. And keep in mind that this average is for more than just Americans working in entry-level positions, this is for Americans who have worked their jobs for decades and are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as well.

Nor should we forget that most teachers enjoy a benefits package which is far superior to what most non-government workers enjoy. Plus, teachers don't work a full year. I'll grant that most put in 8+ hour workdays during the school year, but they also get approximately three months off every year. Time they can use for vacations or further career training. This is something no workers outside of the education profession enjoy.

So excuse me if I don't shed any tears for teachers who are making over $30,000/year as their initial pay for their chosen profession. They are making more than the average American makes.

Rob Port owns and operates Say Anything.


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Comments (38)

Average? Is that the avera... (Below threshold)

Average? Is that the average of what all Americans with a four-year degree make?

^^--Right, you don't take i... (Below threshold)

^^--Right, you don't take into account that these people have to go through school in order to become teachers. Find the figures on average salaries of Americans with 4-year degrees, and you may have a point.

Ok, I found them. According to the census, the average American with a four-year degree earns $51,206/year. With only a high school diploma the average is $27,915/year. Beginning teacher salaries range between $23k and $37k, depending on the state. In California, it is almost $35k/year. The national average salary for teachers is $45,771/year. So the average salary for teachers is about $5.5k/year below average (compared to other 4-year degree holders). Let's not forget that their superior medical benefits rose 13% in cost in the past year, more than 4 times the rate of their salary increase.

You may say that they deserve to make below average because they get their summers off, which is valid. However, don't we want to attract some of the better students to the teaching profession? Can we do that by offering a below average wage?

Of course, the 5th grade te... (Below threshold)

Of course, the 5th grade teacher need only have a 6th grade grasp of the material. ;-)

I thought teachers took and... (Below threshold)

I thought teachers took and extra two or three semesters of teacher training/education beyond the basic four year degree?

Not necessarily, with mains... (Below threshold)

Not necessarily, with mainstreaming he might have gifted students who are working at a ninth or tenth grade level.

Rob, I hope you're being sa... (Below threshold)
Mark A.:

Rob, I hope you're being sarcastic. Because if you're serious, you just might wanna poke your head out of North Dakota for a minute and sample reality.

$30k won't meet the car payments and rent, let alone a mortgage in states where most people live.

Moreover, what teachers get three months off anymore? Most states are on track systems now, and teachers get a couple weeks off between tracks--that hardly allows them to take summer jobs or lengthy vacations like they once did.

Teachers need a Bachelor's degree (at minimum), and most states require additional training to obtain the teaching certificate. Most are very active in continuing education. How do you attract quality candidates who are willing to make such an investment? PAY THEM!

I want professionals teaching my kids, and I want them to be paid accordingly. $30,000 is peanuts; it was entry level pay for slacker graduates from slacker colleges when I graduated in 1983. It was appalling then, and more so now. And I would like to see professional teachers paid more than your average idiot who coasted through some lame college major.

mantis...many states accred... (Below threshold)

mantis...many states accredit "teachers" after a two-year "degree" is earned (that'd be an Associate Degree, which they can't receive from four-year universities but from either junior colleges or some state colleges).

The better school systems require a Masters Degree in a field of study inorder to make tenure for teachers, or even to be hired as faculty (which I agree with) but faced with poorer conditions at many public schools, the standards have been lowered to include four year and even two year college educations with a teaching credential onto the staff.

Another thing, and that is the teachers unions also enjoy great healthcare and retirement benefits...some even retiring with their salaries ongoing.

I know that in California, for instance, the Teachers Union is so padded by taxpayer dollars (and yet they continue to complain and demand more money and threaten every single state election, ongoing) that they can 'donate' millions a year to activists who they think will personify their message, whatever it is at any given time. Millions. That money is from taxpayers, I again add here.

Frankly I wouldn't mind pay... (Below threshold)

Frankly I wouldn't mind paying them $100,000 per year if - 1) The pay were based on performance, 2) They could be fired for poor performance (like in the real world) and 3) They were willing to toss their union in favor of individual contracts - lets face it, most unions (while important years ago) punish performance and are in business to keep the union going. The self preservation instinct of the NEA is very often in opposition to what is best for students!

Don't forget that public sc... (Below threshold)

Don't forget that public school teachers don't pay Social Security payroll taxes either (they have qualifying pension plans...)

Many colleges have in place a course of study so a granting of a bachelors AND teaching cert will coincide.

Darlene, I don't know any p... (Below threshold)
Mark A.:

Darlene, I don't know any public school teachers who don't pay Social Security taxes--the qualifying plans must vary from state to state. Also, the combination BS/Teaching cert will depend on state requirements. Some states won't recognize those combination programs without the candidate obtaining more credits.

Don't forget that $30,000 is only $576.00 per week before taxes. After taxes it approaches $400.00 per week. Asking for more is FAR from greedy!

How much is rent? --$1,000/mo. for a single bedroom in most cities? How much is a car payment? --$400/mo.? Ok, so now I've got $200/mo. to live on. How much is food? Gas? Insurance? Utilities? Telephone? Student loan payments? Broadband internet access? Entertainment? Clothes? Medical?

No, I want my kids' teachers to earn MUCH more than that. I want teachers who are well educated in both educational sciences and in another discipline. I want teachers who can afford to travel and see the world. I want teachers who can afford to spend time on the internet or in libraries reasearching. I want teachers who have relatively comfortable lifestyles and who do not have a permanent chip on their shoulder against "THE MAN." I want well-rounded and interesting and capable people yaking at my kids during the 7 or so hours they are captives of the school system.

Teachers should be paid muc... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

Teachers should be paid much better than what they are making...The only thing that really bothers me are the TEACHERS UNIONS!...They allow the lousy teachers to stay even when they should and would be fired anywhere else in the working world!...Good teachers are worth much more than $30.000 dollars per year! You say getting 3 months off for the summer is a benefit? Most teachers I know can't afford to take that time off! Many teachers need to be able to take that time off just to rejuvenate! Try spending a few days with a class room full of kids! Then see if you are feeling the same way!

MarkI can only spe... (Below threshold)


I can only speak about CA. No state or county employee pays Soc Sec, that includes our public school teachers (I'm a county employee, so I don't pay SocSec either).

Teachers also qualify for subsidized mortgage programs to buy homes (along with police and firefighters)

Just having gone through orientation for incoming freshmen for my daugher for SFSU, I know they offer a program so a teacher can coordinate their bachelor and teacher cert at the same time.

Also in CA, you can put ANYONE with a Bachelors in a class room with temporary certs if they have passed C-BEST and they then have a timeframe in which to enroll and finish their teaching credits.

I have little problem with paying teachers MORE.

But the snarling I hear from the unions, which by and large HATE parents ... makes me say

Ok...I'll pay you more, what are you going to give me for it?

Right now, too many teachers can't teach squat, but are totally protected in a way slacker employees in the private sector can't.

My immediate proposal?


Darleen,I don't kn... (Below threshold)
Mark A.:


I don't know any public school teachers in CA (except for one of my daughter's teachers, but we don't discuss her tax situation). My personal friends who teach, do so in other states and they pay SSA. I'm happy to see CA teachers are getting some breaks with a real pension plan instead of SSA, and the mortgage subidies! That's great!

Yeah, I know the CA colleges have nice packages for teaching in CA. Unfortunately (actually, very fortunately) my ex-wife came to CA with a BA in Education, and a cert. from another State. California wanted her to put in a couple more semesters in some field other than education before they would issue a cert. here. She said "screw it," and it's the best thing she ever did.

We were 23 and I was just starting law school. She immediately got a job waiting tables at a popular watering hole off campus. She made more than $30,000 in her first year (and this was 1983). Then she attended a 6-month paralegal program at UCLA and began working as a paralegal with a starting salary of about $42,000 (in 1985). She's still at it, and earning six figures plus a generous car allowance.

She would have made a great teacher, but she could not have afforded to go that route. How many good people does California (well, all states) lose to money? Far too many.

I agree about the teacher's union. I detest all unions, frankly.

I would like to see higher starting salaries, performanced based increases thereafter, and I would probably like to see the elimination of tenure.

But getting back to the original post, $30,000 is far too little to pay a starting teacher, especially here in Los Angeles. Who in their right mind would pursue a career in education with that turd at the end of the rainbow?

What a moronic posting. Ei... (Below threshold)

What a moronic posting. Either you do not have kids, or you could care less about the quality of education your kids receive. Teachers are one of the most important professions in our society. Saying that $30,000 a year is a fair wage for someone who has worked hard and earned a 4 year college degree just shows your ignorance and stupidity. Teachers in this country are underpaid, under appreciated, and deserve our upmost respect. I know I couldn't do it. These are the people who deal with your brats all day for next to nothing, and you are going to say they are whiners! What a moron.

My understanding is ... (Below threshold)

My understanding is that in California there are plenty of M.A.'s, M.S.'s, and Ph.D.'s who would make excellent teachers and really want to do it but the teacher's unions require a higher pay so the school districts just hire the much cheaper B.A.'s and B.S.'s (my dad saw his resume on the superintendent's desk in a pile 1/2 inch thick of M.A.'s he couldn't hire). Maybe the state should give extra funding to schools who hire advanced degrees to offset the extra cost, instead of paying more for somebody with less education and less commitment to their chosen field.


I agree... dumb article. I... (Below threshold)

I agree... dumb article. It smells of typical "summer off" envy. The only states that are extending teacher accreditiation (usually on a probationary basis) to people with less than a four year teaching degree are states that are strapped for teachers. But ask yourself this question... "If the pay is so good compared to the 'average' job, it comes with gold plated benefits, and you get your summers off, then how come a lot of school districts cannot attract enough job applicants???"

I'm not a teacher, but I come from a family of teachers and am married to one. My wife has her Masters degree in Education and makes about 2/3 of my salary (I only have a BS). Plus to keep her state certification she has to pony up about $500 a year out of pocket for continuing ed classes. She also pays about $500 out of pocket each year for classroom supplies her district won't provide for her class (Kleenex, spare calculator batteries, fans, teaching materials, etc.)

Yes, she's off from mid-June to late August. But she spends most week day evenings grading homework, quizzes, or tests the rest of the year. Each year there are about a half dozen parents that try to make her life Hell by telling her she's a terrible teacher. Last year there was a charge of racism leveled against her to the "Super" by one parent. The "pay off" for her are the dozen or so kids she manages to "turn around" in her class each year.

People also need to differentiate between teachers and their Unions. By and large, my wife can't stand her Union and neither do I. But I was amazed last year when I sided with them when the school board tried to refuse the Union's request for a 1/2% raise (they took a retro-active pay cut the previous year) after the board awarded the school administration a nice pay raise.

30K is squat for a person w... (Below threshold)

30K is squat for a person with a Masters.

Let's pay the teachers a whole bunch and cut the admistrator salaries by 25%.

In my school district this year they cut 3 Administratve positions and saved 410,000USD. Nice.

Married to a 10-year teache... (Below threshold)

Married to a 10-year teacher. She gets approximately 2 mos. off from the end of May to the end of July. Even though classes start in Mid-August, the teachers are required to be there early to get their rooms ready.

And although she currently has a B.A., she's got more than enough Continuing Education credits to qualify for the "masters in education" required by most states.

She pays SS taxes in S.C., but didn't in Texas. The starting salary is set at a base level and individual districts can raise it significantly from the base. A rural texas school district paid the minimum. The big city districts paid well above minimum to attract teachers (competition between districts!).

I don't know what all the solutions are to the education problems, but ragging on the teachers for making $30-$40,000 isn't the solution.

Another counterpoint about ... (Below threshold)

Another counterpoint about the whole "summer off" thing... My wife gets about 9 weeks off this summer, plus about 2 weeks for Christmas and 1 for Spring Break. So that's about 12 weeks for the year. Next year I'll get about 6 weeks vacation from the my job. So in effect, our "vacation gap" is only about 6 weeks.

Also as others have mentioned, by wife has to use some of her summer time to take continuing ed classes for the license renewal and she starts work on her classroom and lesson plans about a week before her official "report date".

As as far as SS taxes go, teachers pay them here in Michigan.

Gizmo, I'd say your vacatio... (Below threshold)

Gizmo, I'd say your vacation level is not the norm. Most places start 1-2 weeks after a year, 3 weeks after 5 or 10 years, and 4 weeks after 10, 15 or 20 years.

I'm just wondering what the heck the unions are doing since in most other industries unions have obtained high salaries for their members.

Also, how do the salaries compare to private sector schools? Given that less is spent per head in private schools, with better results, and we spend gobs of money on government funded education, one has to wonder where the leak in this pipe is.

The answer is not to increase funding, but cut the bloat out, and you'll find plenty of cash for paying teachers what they deserve.

Also, I'd see it performance based, and scrap tenure.

Paying teachers more is a s... (Below threshold)

Paying teachers more is a sure way to ensure that people truely interested in teaching become teachers and those becoming teachers for the money will become less & less.

Rick put forth my true sent... (Below threshold)
Mark A.:

Rick put forth my true sentiments as my first instincts would have had me put them. But having already been accused of being caustic by Rob in other posts, I restrained myself.

Rick, you are absolutely right.

I guess I should put my 2 c... (Below threshold)

I guess I should put my 2 cents in for what it is worth. I am not going to complain about my salary. I teach in CA also, I do have a bachelor's degree in Sociology, and I went to school part time for about 8 years to finish my crediantial's (plural: Mutiple Subject, Special Education and C.L.A.D.) and a Master's is Ed. In California you have to have a credential in your field of teaching, and a C.L.A.D. certificate to teach "English Language Learners" and the credentials must be renewed every 5 years through "Professional Growth" (inservices, college courses, lectures, helping new teachers etc. . ., there is a justification process). I have been teaching now for 10 years students with severe handicaps and I now make about $58,000. I will make more as I continue to go to school and gain for years of experience. But, as I said I am not going to complain. I teach students with severe handicaps and the joy I get from seeing any growth is worth the hours and extra time I put in. (a student might take an entire year to learn to hold a toothbrush) Yes, I do get Summers off, if I can afford it, but I can't. I teach Summer school for about 5 weeks, but fewer hours. My only problem is the Union, as many people have already said. I pay them almost $100.00 each month and you should see the propaganda I get from them monthly. During last years election cycle, I had to laugh. They send you a "suggestions" for who you should vote for in the entire state. From President on down, there must have been 150 names on the list. Not one Republican, now how is that not a liberal organization. To say that there is not one R in the entire state to vote for is ludicrous. Well, I am sure there is much more to say, but I have said enough. I have to go prepare more lessons for this week. Have a great 4th.

I think teachers hould be p... (Below threshold)

I think teachers hould be paid more but the reality is they are free to change jobs any time they want to. If they can make more money in a diffrent field and that's what they want they need to change jobs. Striking is nothing more than extortion. If they really can compete on the open market why don't they just do it? The resulting shortage of teachers would mean their former co-workers would eventually get higher pay. Why should the taxpayers subsidize the dreams of a few? Nobody is forced to teach. They choose to because that's what they want to do. If they don't like anything about the job they need to look for different work or learn to live with the choices they made.

hangingchad,Maybe ... (Below threshold)


Maybe instead of just flat out calling your union liberal, maybe you need to investigate why they can not endorse Republican candidates. Republicans are known for opposing education and even more unions. Maybe this is the reasoning for not endorsing any Republican candidates. If calling them liberal makes you feel better though, then fine. I just think they are going to endorse the politicians that support what they are trying to accomplish, which is to promote and encourage education as a top priority. IMHO that is.

I have read all the comment... (Below threshold)

I have read all the comments, and I don't see any mention of the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT. That means that there are standards for both teachers and students to achieve, and that districts and individual schools are held accountable for them. Even the paraprofessionals have to be degreed or pass a test to prove they are qualified.

As a teacher, I don't agree with all of the act's requirements, and I think they will be hard to impliment. I teach in an economically depressed area, and a large part of the problem we face is parents who are unable to help their children with school work beyond the second or third grade level. These parents, of course, blame the teachers for the fact that their children have problems in school even though they will admit that they do not oversee homework or set school as a priority.

As an English teacher, it has not been unusual for me to start my day at 5AM and end it past ten when I fall asleep grading papers. I know that doctors put in that kind of hours, but how many other professionals do? How many other professionals see getting cussed at as part of their profession?

I don't object to yearly evaluations, and I got my credentials after 1986, so I will never have a permanent license. I believe that teaching is a calling. But I also believe that, if you want your children or grandchildren to be well-taught in a society that puts the responsibility for that teaching solely on the schools, you had better pay the people who do it!

DelphiGuy,Sure, I ... (Below threshold)


Sure, I get more vacation than the average starting employee... but you missed by point. The "summer off" issue needs to take into account the most workers get several weeks of time off a year too. When taken into account the "vacation gap" isn't as large as it seems at first.

Also, to your question about private vs. public teacher salaries... around here private and charter schools pay about 75% of what public schools do.


"Republicans are known for opposing education..." Nothing like a gross over generalization. Yep, the GOP hates education. They want all education to cease! I don't see wanting more effective use of education dollars and wanting accountibility and competition as "opposing education".


You're right... nobody is forced to teach. That's one of the reasons that some areas of the country are having a hard time finding enough teachers right now. Kids entering college are picking other job options.

Rick, I'm tired of this 'Re... (Below threshold)

Rick, I'm tired of this 'Republicans are known for opposing education' crap. Opposing teachers who cannot be fired no matter what? Yes. Opposing 'throw more money and the problems will go away'? Yes. Opposing unions that basically run around telling people that anyone who opposes something they've done means 'they don't want your children to learn'? Yes.

I think a good teacher is worth everything you can afford to pay; I also think bad teachers should be gotten rid of before they do more damage than they already have. I don't think that's a radical notion, but I've heard the 'there are no bad teachers!' response from too many teachers and union types to have any faith in that system policing itself.

"Saying that $30,000 a y... (Below threshold)

"Saying that $30,000 a year is a fair wage for someone who has worked hard and earned a 4 year college degree just shows your ignorance and stupidity."

Complete hokum. I have both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. My first job after grad school paid me $25,200 a year. I've upped that considerably since then based on job performance, but it never-ever-occurred to me that my entry-level wage in the workplace was SUPPOSED to be some nebulous figure. You get paid what the market thinks you're worth. And for the record, $30k will let you live pretty well in a lot of states that don't have abominably high tax rates and ridiculous costs of living. Sure, thirty grand might let you starve in CA or NY City, but I assure that that same salary will allow you to get along pretty well in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, just to name a few states.

$30k for a starting salary was crap in 1983? Maybe in your fantasy world, but not here in reality.

Bullwinkle makes a point an... (Below threshold)

Bullwinkle makes a point and misses a point. He says if people can make more money doing something other than teaching, they should do it. What he is saying is that education shouldn't compete for the best available people. Even post dot.com boom, why would anyone with minimal programming skills want to teach math or science when they can make a hell of a lot more programming?

I'm curious as to how many ... (Below threshold)

I'm curious as to how many people want someone teaching their children that were unable or unwilling to do a little research into their possible future earning capacity in their chosen career. Kinda seems like to me a person that goes through the steps to get a degree should at the very least check out what jobs are available and what the pay is for a person holding that degree. Isn't the career guidance counselor also a certified teacher? That's about the last guy I'd want giving my kids advice about the future.

Becky:One issue:</... (Below threshold)


One issue:

As an English teacher, it has not been unusual for me to start my day at 5AM and end it past ten when I fall asleep grading papers. I know that doctors put in that kind of hours, but how many other professionals do? How many other professionals see getting cussed at as part of their profession?

Every, and I mean every profession deals with those issues. Lawyers, server admins, accountants, producers, even conductors. Sure, some exceptions to the general rule go through with a breeze, but the long hours and little appreciation is pretty much universal to every job in existence. And if they did not see that as being part of their profession before they signed up they quickly got the notion that it would be part and parcel of their profession soon afterwards.

If you deal with people you're going to take crap, especially if you have to deal with paperwork relating to those same people.

Bullwinkle: Sure, people a... (Below threshold)
Mark A.:

Bullwinkle: Sure, people are free to follow other, non-teaching, career paths. And, unfortunately, many capable would-be teachers are doing just that. It would be nice to have a system whereby more real talent is attracted to the profession. I would also like to see a system whereby the deadwood is weeded out of the profession, because there is a lot of crap protected by tenure.

PhysicsGeek: The cost-of-living conditions in the states you mentioned are not "reality" for most people in this country. I'm sure there might be a few places were one can survive on the $400 per week take home pay of a new teacher, but in most places that person would starve.

And where did I say $30k was "crap" in 1983? It was the going rate for C students in most professions coming out of my school at the time. I knew plenty of people who took those jobs, and I felt bad for them. But nowhere in my post did I say it was "crap."

Assessing teacher performan... (Below threshold)

Assessing teacher performance by student results seems almost impossible to do in any reliable or fair way. You may judge John the cabinet maker on how his product turned out all the live long day, but remember that John has his choice of materials, and wood doesn't have the ability to refuse to become a cabinet. The same cannot be said of students. Any willing child can graduate easily; school just isn't that difficult, but no matter how much water you lead students to, some simply will not drink. But I may be looking at this all wrong. Feel free to enlighten me.

Rick,I did not say... (Below threshold)


I did not say the teacher's union is "liberal" to make myself feel better. Many Republican representatives are supportive of education, they just choose to make the teachers and school districts accountable for where the money is spent. Do you realize that here in CA. the school's get an average of $7,500 per student per year? You can look it up on the Department of Ed. website if you want. For ONE average high school that is $23 MILLION. More money is not going to change anything, but making those schools and districts accountable for where and how it is spent is another. Everyone hates the NCLB laws because the candy store has been closed down. Now they have to show that the taxpayers money is giving results. If you want to see an example of why the union is liberal, besides the one I already gave about them endorsing every single democratic representative in the state, you should see how they are fighting Gov. Swarzenegger's upcoming ballot initiative that will allow each union member to decide if they want their union dues to be spent on political campaigns. The sick thing is they are raising our union dues again to fight the governor on this measure.

Average and percenti... (Below threshold)

Average and percentile wages of teachers in metropolitan areas and states:

Elementary school teachers

Middle school teachers

Secondary (high-school) school teacher

Mark A.Let me say ... (Below threshold)

Mark A.

Let me say ..You are full of BS. There are Masters Degree Social workers with experience offered 25,000/ yr counseling. Our teachers are about to be offered ( by a school board who should represent the public) 25 % increase over 5 yrs!!!( how many workers get a 5% raise guaranteed each year?????huh???)...with a measly 10$/ month contribution for the best healthcare around.( how many workers do not contribute much more..hundreds per month??) disgusting..in a community that is losing young people, a community not doing great economically..we are being bled by their greed.I have been an RN for 20 yrs..entry level teachers making $34,000 for 7.5 months of work with their free healthcare are outearning me NOW!!get your head out of your butt..the union is an evil when it holds hostage students, feeds greed and ignores the hardship of the community..when I hear teachers complain..I truly want to expectorate on them...YOU must be a well paid teacher whining for more.. and the protection that bad teachers have?? makes me sick!!! how about 1% raises based uppon performance and 150$/ month contribution..concessions..like all of us!!
Your comments .ohhhhhh...uneducated.

The point is teachers shoul... (Below threshold)

The point is teachers should not be paid only for the "months" they teacher. Salaries are a reflection of the value we put on an occupation. Teachers should be paid way more than they are for one simple fact: Teacher have the most important job in the world.






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