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Contrary to popular perception, teachers are not underpaid

Author: Vale

striking teachersOnly last year, teachers of Wisconsin struck to increase their pay. Governor Scott Walker passed a bill that weakened their power to collective bargain because the state was up against a wall on the costs of their total compensation and benefits. This led to many disruptive and expensive protests which cost the capitol over $8 million dollars to clean up and it also led to an unsuccessful election recall of the governor. So what was the big disagreement about? Teachers receiving about 3 times the compensation that a private sector worker receives in pension and benefits. The total package costs were over $100,000 per teacher, on average. This compensation is for 9 months of work. These teachers expected that their generous compensation package should be continued to be pushed onto the backs of taxpaying citizens.

Back in September, Chicago teachers struck for compensation grievances. What is surprising is that Chicago teachers are the highest paid in the country (they make even more than New York City teachers). They make $76,000 in cash a year for 9 months of work, for an $101,333 annualized figure and receive generous benefits, considered extravagant by some, on top of this salary bringing the total compensation into the six-figure level. The median teacher salary in the country is $53,230 per year (not including benefits), which is solidly middle class. Remember that old stereotype that used to be passed around about the poor teachers who were barely surviving? Apparently some teachers starve less than others. 

My problem with the effort is the claim that they are striking for the kids. No, they are striking for themselves, plain and simple. They are merely using the kids as leverage, which is appalling. They are refusing a 16% pay raise (over 4 years) and do not want to be held accountable to standardized tests. In this economy, such a raise should be celebrated, not spit on, and teachers should be held accountable for the education of the future generation. In the private sector, one is accountable for his or her work product and so should those being compensated by taxpayers.

These over-sized pay packages are the result of the teacher's unions. Where unions may have provided some benefit over a century ago when our country was going through the industrial revolution and labor laws were not yet enacted, not much positive can be said about them these days. Unions continue to extract resources out of businesses and governments and hold them hostage in order to obtain their over-sized pay packages and benefits. Business monopolies were outlawed with the Sherman Antitrust Acts and monopolies of labor should have been targeted at the same time. At the very least, they should be outlawed in the public sector so that taxpayers are not forced to pick up the tab. Just think about how much smaller your annual tax bill would be if the teachers at your glorified daycare center weren't pulling in double your compensation while barely providing an education to your children.


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+2 # Frov 2013-09-16 14:35
My wife is a teacher, and they just went through negociations that were very drawn out and close to "discussing" a strike. I say "discussing" in quotes, because turns out the union members had zero say in whether to accept the offer or not, their voting options were A) Straight to impasse, or B) One more offer and then impasse. There was no C) Accept the offer. So they voted, and 66% said "A) Straight to impasse". So the negociators.... went back to negociating again - not what the members said, and many of them wondering why there was no option to accept, but they voted anyways.

Anyways, their offer was 4% raise on the salary schedule, and many teachers received more because they moved down a level on the "years of service" pay. Except when I did a direct comparison, year to year, the lower level teachers (which is becoming the majority) got more than 4%. This was especially true for the 2nd year (they negociate 2 years at a time) when the increase was a flat dollar amount for every step and level. So the lower level teachers were 5%+, not the 4% the negociators said as they lied to the union members.

Also, they bring up the good old "Our state is 46th in pay for teachers". Depending on the source, the average pay ranking is 48th to 44th. Anyways, this district is leading the state, and would be number 10 or so versus average pay for other states. So they didn't actually give a crap about the rural teachers making $22k, they just used them like rented donkies to get themselves more pay.

"They do it for the kids" - bullshit like the author says. NONE of the negociation points had ANYTHING to do with kids, and EVERYTHING to do with: 1) Salary, 2) Personal Time Off, 3)How many days they actually have to work by what date (last year we had a late blizzard and had a snow day after all other make-up day options were gone, resulting in teachers having to go to school 1 more day after the kids were gone - OH THE HORROR!).

None of these teachers actually count up their total compensation, which includes GREAT health insurance, pension they are paying in as well as the district (which pays more), the fact they work 180 days, not the full 9 months like most people since they get over a week off for Xmas.

The teachers pay almost 12% into a failing pension, but none of them bother to read the pension newsletter and question it, they just care about their take home paycheck, which gets smaller, because next year the pension is eating up another 1% of their salary.

Basically, there are some teachers that I do believe are underpaid, teaching 4th graders in a school with only 1 class is no more important than a bigger city with 20 classes. However, in any major city in my state, if husband/wife were both "poor teachers", they would be pushing $80k, which is perfectly livable for a family of 4 here, I know, we're doing it on 69K (i'm a tax preparer)
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