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Public School Teacher Salary

The truth about public school teacher salaries in Texas

Ed Tor    Sept. 1, 2007 (updated Sept. 2018)
    Everyone knows a teacher's salary is low, really low.  We've been hearing that for decades, and we still do (paricularly by pandering politicians during election season).  We all remember our teachers telling us so, and often.  We believed them too. Everyone still believes that. We hear it all the time so it must be true, right?  WRONG!  To be honest, most of us are in favor of everyone earning as much as possible, but NOT through lies and deception. So... just how "poorly" are teachers paid? Let us compare the minimum public school teacher salary to a "real world" example:
Public school teachers make 138% more and work 43% less than many other jobs requiring the same amount of college!

    Comparisons should not end there either.  They are all guaranteed, again by state law, a very nice raise every year, for twenty [20] years. Just for breathing air, they will all get right at a $600 raise their first, second and third years and $1,240 their fourth, fifth and sixth year! Every public school teacher gets an average one thousand dollar $1,000.00] raise in each of their first ten years. And these raises go on, and on, and on, for twenty years. Pandering politicians keep increasing this "schedule of automatic raises" often!  They recently raised it $2,500 just one year after having raised it $580. And remember... this is at a minimum!  Most public school districts add to these state required minimums.  This is NOT merit pay. EVERYONE gets it, just for showing up.  View this years Minimum Salary Schedule below. The business world has nothing even close to this kind of largess!

    Comparison could continue by looking at a teacher's lavish benefit package including health and retirement plans.  Additionally, work environment, hiring opportunity, comfort, safety and proximity to home could be compared.  To that list add their unique opportunity to continue higher education or moonlight during the summer months, both of which will increase their annual income. Another salary boost available to teachers, and sometimes only them, are all the part time income sources like coaching, club sponsor, chaperon, bus driver, etc. Again... the business world has nothing close to this.

Huge financial savings, a very real yet unspoken benefit, are also available like working close to home which saves thousands of dollars and hours over commuting. Being able to place their children in the school they work at [a free benefit in most every district] instead of the one all their neighbors must use can be huge.  This saves many thousands of dollars each year, for each child, if their only other choice would be private school because their neighborhood school was unacceptable. And this 'corporate daycare' just happens to dovetail perfectly with their work hours.

    If any public servants are truly deserving of higher pay, it is the law enforcement officer.  Required work hours are seldom only forty a week, and they are, in fact, ON DUTY by state law twenty-four [24] hours a day, every day, as a duly sworn peace officer. A peace officer on patrol braves killer highways, and the known killers on those highways, every single day!  Using a policeman's salary and work hours to compare with a teacher's will show even greater disparity than the example used above.

    Public school teachers are suppose to be public servants like politicians. But every election season the latter tell us we need to pay the former more. And they too are never honest with us about their own salaries and benefits. Could our Bashful Servants be a little ashamed of how much they actually know they do make? And since their pay is, in fact, our taxes raised by threat of force from many who work longer and harder for much less, they should be a little ashamed. But Shame is a rare thing these days, so I doubt it.

    Again, let me say for the record; I am in favor of everyone earning as much as they can.  But... how about some integrity? How about some honesty?  And teachers... stop whining all the time about how "poorly you're paid."  It would be refreshing to hear some teachers admit what a wonderful salary they have, and how thankful they are to us regular tax paying schmucks for it.  I guess I'm dreaming.


¹    notes & references:

Seguin Daily News, June 23, 2006, page 3 - quoting Superintendent Dennis Dreyer, Marion I.S.D.; "The starting salary for a first year teacher in Marion will now be $34,000.  ... we are more than $8,000 behind Northeast starting salary."  [$34K + $8K  + $3K = $45K -- Dreyer's 2006 stated figure of $34K included an additional $6,680 from the local district (Marion ISD) above the Texas state minimum of $27,320.  It is normal for districts to add to the state minimum making effective minimum salaries quite higher. As Dreyer stated, the Northeast ISD (20 miles away in northeast San Antonio) was paying $8,000 more, hence the "+$8K" figure. And the "+ $3K" is the increase of  $3,000 for the young ladies masters degree in my example which is believed to be a fair average stipend adjustment for public school teachers.]

1,122 hours per year is calculated using the state required 187 days times six [6] hours a day.  Six [6] hours per day is the average between an 8 AM to 3 PM school day and an 8 AM to 4 PM school day, less the one [1] hour state required"off period,"  and allowing one half [1/2] hour for lunch. Non of the other non-instructional 'off' periods of time were considered in the calculations like  five [5] minutes between classes and while all students are busy studying or testing.  Also. a teachers' students are often excused for pep rallys, plays, concerts and home games during school hours. These add up to considerable 'off' time.


State law defines base work requirements as noted here from: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/ED/htm/ED.21.htm
EDUCATION CODE
TITLE 2. PUBLIC EDUCATION
SUBTITLE D. EDUCATORS AND SCHOOL DISTRICT EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS
CHAPTER 21. EDUCATORS
SUBCHAPTER I. DUTIES AND BENEFITS
Sec. 21.401.  MINIMUM SERVICE REQUIRED
(b)  An educator employed under a 10-month contract must provide a minimum of 187 days of service.

or

https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Salary_and_Service_Record/Minimum_Salary_Schedules/

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter153/ch153cc.html
Full-time employment--Employment for 100% of an institution's normal work schedule.
Full-time means contracted employment for at least ten months (187 days) for 100% of the school day in accordance with definitions of school day in TEC, §25.082, employment contract in TEC, §21.002, and school year in TEC, §25.081.

State Minimum Salary Schedule for Classroom Teachers, Full-Time Librarians, Full-Time Counselors, and Full-Time Nurses (Section 21.402(c), Texas Education Code)

The state base salary schedule is in accordance with the provisions of TEC 21.402 and applies only to classroom teachers, full-time librarians, full-time counselors, and full-time nurses. There is no state minimum salary for any other position.

In no instance may a school district pay classroom teachers, full-time librarians, full-time counselors, or full-time nurses less than the state base salary listed for that individual's years of experience. A classroom teacher, full-time librarian, full-time counselor certified under Subchapter B, or full-time school nurse employed by a school district in the (current) school year is entitled to a salary that is at least equal to the salary the employee received for the (previous) school year, as long as the employee is employed by the same district.

Monthly Salary Based on the Standard 10-Month Contract

   updated: 2018-2019 Minimum Salary Schedule

Years of
  Experience
  Credited

Monthly Salary

Annual Salary
  (10 month contract)

0

2,808

28,080

1

2,869

28,690

2

2,929

29,290

3

2,989

29,890

4

3,117

31,170

5

3,244

32,440

6

3,372

33,720

7

3,490

34,900

8

3,602

36,020

9

3,708

37,080

10

3,808

38,080

11

3,902

39,020

12

3,993

39,930

13

4,076

40,760

14

4,156

41,560

15

4,231

42,310

16

4,303

43,030

17

4,370

43,700

18

4,434

44,340

19

4,494

44,940

20 & Over

4,551

45,510

 


The Truth About Teacher Pay

The popular perception is that teachers are underpaid, but is that widely true?

Brian Mark Weber · Sep. 21, 2018

A recent Time magazine exposé featured stories from teachers across America, many of whom are struggling to feed their families or pay their bills. One Kentucky teacher, for example, asserts that she needs to work two outside jobs and donate plasma just to make ends meet. So how much can we draw from such stories on a national level?

Not much, according to Reason’s Nick Gillespie, who says, “The Time story constitutes something akin to journalistic malpractice by suggesting that teachers such as Brown, who are pulling down salaries in the mid-50s, are being forced to sell bodily fluids to make ends meet. Indeed, according to Time’s sister publication, Money, the median household income in Kentucky is $45,215 meaning that Brown is making about $10,000 more than half of all other households in the Bluegrass State.”

We certainly have our complaints about the education system, but the vast majority of public-school teachers in this country work hard for their salaries, and their contributions to society are impossible to quantify. Of course, we can also say the same about countless other professions, including firefighters and police officers. Sure, everyone who works hard and touches the lives of others deserves to bring home a decent paycheck. But that’s the point. Contrary to popular belief, most teachers already bring home paychecks that are equal to, or above, the average salaries of other professions.

Are there school districts in which teachers make significantly less than some of their counterparts in other places? Sure. Just last year, the Brown Center of the Brookings Institution issued a report finding, “The level of overall salary inequality among public teachers is low in comparison to other occupations. In addition, teacher salaries show very little evidence of inequalities based on either race/ethnicity or gender dimensions, but show relatively high levels of wage inequality based on age (our proxy for experience), education, and geography.”

Geography, of course, is one important factor that determines how much teachers are paid. Naturally, school districts in heavily populated areas with a higher tax base or a thriving local economy receive higher salaries than teachers in rural areas.

If any teachers have a right to be upset about salaries, they’re those who teach in parochial or private schools, where salaries are significantly less than their public-school counterparts. But teachers in a small Christian school or in a college-prep school aren’t funded by taxpayers, so the market determines what they make. On the other hand, public-school teachers are funded by their local and state governments, where politicians, powerful unions, and education bureaucrats all work together to make sure teachers draw higher salaries.

It is certainly true that public-school teachers are facing cuts in salaries and benefits in some areas of the country but, again, this is due mostly to states and localities whose budgets are in the red. Even Time points out, “The fight over teacher pay has many shades of gray. Generous retirement and health-benefits packages negotiated by teachers’ unions in flusher times are a drain on many states. Those who believe most teachers are fairly paid point to those benefits, along with their summer break, to make their case.” Teacher pensions and other benefits are also typically more generous than in the private sector.

One of the problems is that teachers, supported and encouraged by unions, often demand across-the-board pay increases for all teachers, which is very expensive and simply rewards teachers for being in the education field. By taking some innovative approaches, we can pay good teachers more by creating an efficient system that more closely replicates the private sector. This includes paying teachers based on performance and moving teacher pensions to 401(k)-style retirement plans. But efficiency and government don’t go hand in hand. As long as school systems are solely government-run operations, we’re likely to see little meaningful change.

Americans naturally like to root for teachers, but the reality of teacher pay is that it’s on pace with other professions. Most teachers in this country earn every penny they make, but teachers shouldn’t expect or demand higher salaries simply because they’re teachers. That mentality may work in a profession dominated by unions and politicians — but not in the real world.

https://patriotpost.us/articles/58395-the-truth-about-teacher-pay

Are Teachers Really 'Not Paid for the Work [They] Do'? Time Says Yes, Reality Begs To Differ

Actually, the average salary for public-school teachers is close to the median income for U.S. households.

This story has been updated. Scroll to the bottom for more information.

Time magazine has a big new story out that purports to show just how little public-school teachers make. "'I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.' This Is What It's Like to Be a Teacher in America" telegraphs its message in its headline.

The opening anecdote tells the story of a struggling veteran teacher reduced to selling blood plasma to make ends meet.

Hope Brown can make $60 donating plasma from her blood cells twice in one week, and a little more if she sells some of her clothes at a consignment store. It's usually just enough to cover an electric bill or a car payment. This financial juggling is now a part of her everyday life—something she never expected almost two decades ago when she earned a master's degree in secondary education and became a high school history teacher. Brown often works from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her school in Versailles, Ky., then goes to a second job manning the metal detectors and wrangling rowdy guests at Lexington's Rupp Arena. With her husband, she also runs a historical tour company for extra money.

"I truly love teaching," says the 52-year-old. "But we are not paid for the work that we do."

The polite term for this sort of journalism is b.s.

It may well be true that Brown's personal situation is as dire as Time makes out (I've reached out to her but haven't heard back), but things are surely more complicated than they are presented. After reading the article, I spoke with Scott Hawkins, the superintendent of the Woodford County public school district, where Brown works. He underscored that he could not talk about her particular situation but noted that a high-school teacher with a master's degree and 20 years experience would make $56,616 in salary. In a graphic and cover image for the story, Time says Brown has "16 years experience."

According to the salary schedule at the Woodford County schools website, that means Brown would make $55,645 in base pay (Hawkins explained that a teacher with a master's would be considered Rank II in the "certified salary schedule"). That doesn't include compensation in the form of health insurance and retirement contributions. Hawkins said he could not guesstimate how much the benefits were worth as percentage of salary, but Lisa Snell, director of education research at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website, tells me that "on average in the United States you could add 23.2 percent to any average salary for all benefits for total compensation."

Time's story is built around the latest entry in a series of reports from the progressive Economic Policy Institute on what Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel call "the teacher pay penalty" or "the percent by which public school teachers are paid less than comparable workers." They write,

Providing teachers with a decent middle-class living commensurate with other professionals with similar education is not simply a matter of fairness. Effective teachers are the most important school-based determinant of student educational performance....relative teacher pay—teacher pay compared with the pay of other career opportunities for potential and current teachers—has been eroding for over a half a century.

You can read the study here. Allegretto and Mishel argue that teacher demonstrations and shortages around the country are driven by the fact that educators in K-12 public schools are making less money compared to other college graduates and "professionals" over the past several decades. "The teacher wage penalty was 1.8 percent in 1994, grew to 4.3 percent in 1996, and reached a record 18.7 percent in 2017," they write. According to their analysis, the "penalty" shrinks to 11.1 percent when you add in total compensation.

Their agenda is straightforward: They think teachers should be paid more, both in absolute terms and relative to other workers with college degrees or professional status. They have amassed a number of statistics from credible sources which show that inflation-adjusted teacher wages have in fact been flat for about the past 20 years.

I don't agree with Allegretto and Mishel that average teacher pay should be increased and I don't buy into their framework of a teacher "pay penalty." But that's besides the point that the Time story constitutes something akin to journalistic malpractice by suggesting that teachers such as Brown, who are pulling down salaries in the mid-50s, are being forced to sell bodily fluids to make ends meet. Indeed, according to Time's sister publication, Money, the median household income in Kentucky is $45,215, meaning that Brown is making about $10,000 more than half of all other households in the Bluegrass State.

And in fact, teachers are doing well compared to households on the national level, too. The median household income in the United States is $61,372. According to the largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA),

The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2016–17 was $59,660. State average teacher salaries ranged from those in New York ($81,902), California ($79,128), and Massachusetts ($78,100) at the high end, to Mississippi ($42,925), Oklahoma ($45,292) and West Virginia ($45,555) at the low end.

There are all sorts of issues and reforms of the public K-12 system that are worth talking about (go here for a start). That conversation would best be served by solid reporting of basic facts.

Update (Sunday, September 16): Sometime after its initial publication, Time revised the opening anecdote about Hope Brown that I quote above to indicate her salary. It now explicitly quotes her salary (emhasis added):

...Brown often works from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. at her school in Versailles, Ky., then goes to a second job manning the metal detectors and wrangling rowdy guests at Lexington's Rupp Arena to supplement her $55,000 annual salary. With her husband, she also runs a historical tour company for extra money.

"I truly love teaching," says the 52-year-old. "But we are not paid for the work that we do."