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Public School Teacher Salary

The truth about public school teacher salaries in Texas

    Everyone knows a teacher's salary is low, really low.  We've been hearing that for thirty or forty years at least, and we still do -- every time the subject comes up.  I remember nearly every one of my teachers telling us so, and often.  I believed them too. Everyone I've ever asked still believes that. We hear it all the time and from every politician too, so it must be true, right?  WRONG!  To be fair, I guess I should admit that compared to Bill Gates they don't make squat. I'm all in favor of everyone earning as much as possible, but NOT through lies and deception. So... just how "poorly" are teachers paid? If your a public school teacher, or have one in the family, you already know the truth of course. But what about the rest of us schmucks?  Let us compare the minimum public school teacher salary to a recent, "real world" example:
A public school teacher works 43% less per year but makes 238% of the "business worlds" equivalent pay!

    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, or at: http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147485382  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 he is, in fact, ON DUTY twenty-four [24] hours a day, every day, as a duly sworn peace officer, by state law.  A teacher might get poked with a pencil once in an entire career.  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 above.

    Public school teachers are public servants like politicians.  Have you ever noticed how they are both quite shy talking, in specific terms anyway, about their pay?  This is, after all, a fairly common subject in the "real world" of business.  It's what you might call "water cooler talk."  Maybe our Bashful Servants are a little ashamed of how much they actually know they do make. And since their pay is, in fact, our taxes, which are raised by threat of force from many taxpayers who work longer and harder for much less, maybe they're even 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.

Ed Tor

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 = $42K + $3K = $45K -- Dreyer's stated figures have been increased  $3,000 for a masters degree, which is believed to be a fair average stipend adjustment.]

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, yet they are many.  Things like  five [5] minutes between classes and while all students are busy studying or testing.  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: 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 2006-2007 school year is entitled to a salary that is at least equal to the salary the employee received for the 2006-2007 school year, as long as the employee is employed by the same district.

Section 21.401 of the Texas Education Code specifies that an educator employed under a 10-month contract must provide a minimum of 187 days of service.

Monthly Salary Based on the Standard 10-Month Contract

Years of Experience
(10 month contract)
Credited MonthlySalary AnnualSalary
0 2,732 27,320
1 2,791 27,910
2 2,849 28,490
3 2,908 29,080
4 3,032 30,320
5 3,156 31,560
6 3,280 32,800
7 3,395 33,950
8 3,504 35,040
9 3,607 36,070
10 3,704 37,040
11 3,796 37,960
12 3,884 38,840
13 3,965 39,650
14 4,043 40,430
15 4,116 41,160
16 4,186 41,860
17 4,251 42,510
18 4,313 43,130
19 4,372 43,720
20&Over 4,427 44,270


Joseph Mezher, Program Director

Texas Education Agency (TEA)
Division of Educator Excellence