TEACHER COMPENSATION – USE APPLES TO APPLES

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

An apple and an orange.Image via Wikipedia

Okay here is my latest attempt to rock the boat.

In the educationcommunity I continually hear how teacher’s pay is too low, that we are not compensated fairly or appropriately for what or how much we do to educate our students.  That teachers do not make a reasonable wage for their education and training. I tend to take issue with that.

Like most people I would love someone to pay me a lot more money for the work that I do, but what is my view on the reality of teacher compensation?

Public school teachers are public service employees, they are not private sectorprofessionals. Comparing teacher salaries to private sector professionals (bankers, lawyers, business people) is like comparing apples and oranges they are not the same.  As much as we would like to be compensated at the private industry annual rates we are not in private industry.

Public education teachers salaries and compensation should be compared to other public service employees i.e. State Workers, Federal Government employees or even the military.  To try to compare teacher salaries to those in the private sector is not based on the currentreality and does not work.

Teachers typically get paid for about 180 seat days a year which doesn’t include weekends,  or evenings during the school year.  The typical public service employee is compensated based upon approximately a 240 day work year, which also doesn’t include evenings or weekends.  This simply means that the average teacher works about 60 fewer work days (about 12 weeks) over the course of the year when calculating their annual compensation.

I can hear the arguments starting already, teachers work nights and weekends without pay to get their “work” done. My experience was/is that most other professionals who are also paid salary work many/most evenings and weekends without extra compensation (been there done it) – so to me that argument is lost without going any further with it.  The facts are that professionals on salary in the public and private sectors both work many extra hours beyond their normal working hours, that is just the way it is and that is why they/we receive a salary, not an hourly wage.

Let’s do a little math (old math phobias die hard – I still hate math.)

If a teacher is paid $30,000 as a base salary (the beginning minimum for teachers in Maine) for 180 seat days, worked and was paid for 240 work days their annual salary would be $40,000 which is pretty good for Maine.

Take it a step further if a teacher is paid $40,000 as a base salary for 180 seat days, worked and was paid for 240 work days their annual salary would be $53,333 which is not too bad up heah (Maine phonetic spelling).
Last example I promise you – if a teacher is paid $50,000 as a base salary for 180 seat days, worked and was paid for 240 work days their annual salary would be $66,667.  In Maine those figure are pretty comparable to what public sector employees annual salaries are.
The 180 vs 240 days is just an approximation used to quickly and easily compare the amounts.

To make better comparisons of how much money teachers actually make, you have to figure out our daily rate of pay and then compare it to other profession’s daily rates of pay (not their billable rate). This provides a much clearer and accurate (IMHO) idea of the amounts of money being made in an “apples to apples” comparison.

Amount      Daily Rate 180    Daily Rate 240
$50,000       $278                     $208
$40,000       $222                     $167
$30,000       $167                     $125

Even though the above amounts are just approximations, I believe they show there is a significant differences in the daily rates of pay for a 180 day and 240 day employees.

The reality was that I took a pretty significant pay cut to my daily pay rate to become a Senior Planner in State government in 2008 and I received a pretty good pay raise to my daily rate of pay when I returned to teaching last October.

Would I like to make as much in annual salary as private industry or even my public sectorcounterparts…absolutely!  But at the same time I don’t want to work as many days/weeks during the year as they do.  I enjoy the extra 60 work days (about 12 weeks) that on average I do not work that they do.  This is the area where many outside of education resent teachers, especially when some teachers make more in annual salary than they do, while working many less days.

It does mean that I believe that we need to carefully think about who and what we are comparing our wages to, before we complain about how little or how much we make.  I understand that this post may cause a real consternation among some of you out there and many may castigate me for writing this post, but from where I sit, my wages are pretty comparable to other public service professionals for the number of days worked per year, experience levels and educational requirements.

There is an old saying is that you will never get rich working for the government and that is what public education teachers do – work for the government.  If you want to get rich – keep trying to hit the lottery or go ahead and take your chances in the private sector.  For me I am tired of hearing about how we should be paid the same as the private sector when we are not part of the private sector and will not be paid as though we are.

Or another way to look at it for all of those public education teachers who want to be paid the same annual rate as the private sector.  Be careful of what you ask for or you too may be working in the private sector and still be a teacher at your school with a completely different set of rules.  Some leaders are really attempting to push public education into the private sector – is that what you want?

That is the reality as I see it.

Disclaimer:  No I am not anti-teacher’s union; yes I am a real public school teacher – not some “ringer” with an axe to grind against educators; yes I am liberally-conservative and no I am not attempting to subvert teacher wage earning capabilities.  I just happen believe that many (not all) teachers are fairly compensated in comparison to other public sector employees, but certainly not overpaid by any stretch of the imagination for what we do.

Have you made a difference today? How?

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