In a recession, teacher pay looks good

Veteran teachers earn more than $100,000 a year in Rochester and many other New York districts, reports the New York Times. A Rochester math teacher with 30 years’ experience pays nothing for health benefits and looks forward to a well-funded retirement. And she’s got great job security.

Of course, only five students qualify for her calculus class — and she can’t actually teach because of the frequent fake fire alarms.

Younger teachers don’t have job security, but the pay is competitive — at least until the economy turns around.

About Joanne


  1. Robert Wright says:

    The Times article is a little bit misleading.

    Her employer pays for her health insurance because she is single without dependents. If she had a family plan, she’d probably have to pay for part of it.

    The article says she could retire with 60% of her income. I assume that’s without naming a beneficiary. With a beneficiary, she’d get just 50% of her income.

    To live comfortably, people generally need to retire on 90% of their regular income. (The 70 to 80 percent figure is based on no longer needing to pay into a 401 or to make house payments.)

    If she has no beneficiaries and retires at 60% of her salary, where is she going to get the other 30%?

    Even in this wealthy suburb of New York, teachers can’t live on their pensions alone.

    Because I’ve designated my wife as beneficiary, even if I teach until I’m 80 years old and rack up 55 years of service, I won’t be able to retire at 90%.

  2. Teacher salaries in the rest of the country are not quite up to the same standards as New York, I’m guessing. Last I heard Washington State, with all of its technology money, still ranks 47th in the nation for teacher pay, yet the cost of living is extremely high in some areas.

    Retirement? I think many of my friends who are teaching are just trying to make it month-to-month, with 50-75% of their monthly income going to rent/housing. Unfortunately most are not contributing much to their retirement. Many are still paying off student loans. But, a job is better than no job. Given many layoffs in other sectors, I wonder if teaching jobs will become more competitive.

  3. Teacher salaries in New York are higher than most other states. New York also has one of the most stringent (relatively speaking, of course) requirements for a teaching certificate. In most of the union, teaching is the college major you pick up if you can’t handle basket weaving. Things are a bit better in New York State. If one holds a teaching certificate in either New York or California, you can pretty much take it anywhere.

    Teaching jobs, at least in a state like NY, can’t really become more competitive during an economic downturn due to the requirements. There’s not a gorram thing you’re going to learn in an education class that will actually be of any use to you in the classroom. You still have to take a metric keesterload of them, however, to get a teaching license. This takes a significant amount of time. I was fast-tracked and it took a year before I was able to teach.

    I look at my compensation as a total package. My district has had a wage freeze for 6 years. I still make a decent amount of cash, get great medical benefits, and have hours which are very conducive to raising my daughter and her eventual siblings. If I didn’t get those things, I would’ve told the district to perform an anatomically improbable act years ago.

  4. Loren Steele says:

    My wife and I are both teachers in nyc, and our combined salaries are not enough to own a decent house or apartment where we currently live in Queens.

    It is very difficult to get permanent certification in NY, I’ll agree. Imagine spending 10 days in 3 years at the DMV, and you’ll understand what the process was like at 65 Court St. And the employees at the DMV are nicer, too. Trying to pay grad school tuition in nyc while making $30,000/year teaching full time doesn’t exactly lift the spirits either.

    I think you get out of ed classes what you put in. I can honestly say that none of my classes were a waste of time. I use what I learned from developmental and educational psychology classes every day. I still plan lessons using much of the format I learned in a teaching methods class and cooperative learning class. I give a lot of credit to Instructors at Hunter College and Queens College. I asked around and took courses that interested me.