Teachers make a “shitty” salary, actor Matt Damon told a Reason.tv interviewer at last week’s Save Our Schools march. Damon attended with his mother, a teacher. Teachers earn a middle-class salary, argues Nick Gillespie on Reason’s Hit & Run.
According to Department of Education statistics for 2007-2008 (the most recent year listed), the average public school teacher brought in a bit over $53,000 in “total school-year and summer earned income.” That figure, which is about $13,000 more than what the average private-school teacher gets in straight salary, does not include health and retirement benefits, places where teachers almost always get better deals and bigger employer contributions than the typical private-sector worker. For more on teacher compensation, go here.
The median household income in 2008 was $52,000, according to the Census. The median income for a man with a B.A. was $82,000; for a woman, it was $54,000. About three-quarters of teachers are women, notes Gillespie.
On a per-hour basis — using reported hours worked in a year — teachers do well compared to other college-educated professionals, even when fringe benefits are excluded, he argues.
Teacher salaries have kept pace with inflation since 1991, while inflation-adjusted per-pupil funding has gone up by more than 25 percent, Gillespie writes. In part, the extra money has been used to hire more staff.
Schools apparently aren’t paying enough to math, physics, chemistry and special education teachers, all of which are chronically in short supply. Teachers rarely get extra pay for dealing with exceptionally challenging students. (Note that private school teachers, who rarely face the same classroom challenges, are willing to work for much less.)
And, of course, teachers who put in extra hours to plan better lessons, provide more student feedback or communicate with parents, can expect their reward in heaven but not on earth.
The rally was “incoherent,” writes Kevin Carey, who really hated the rap by the old SDS guy, who thinks the achievement gap is a “hustle” perpetrated by corporate criminals.