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jca's avatar

Do you think this is a crazy salary for a kindergarten teacher, and if so, how much do you think a kindergarten teacher should make?

Asked by jca (28673 points ) February 7th, 2013

My child goes to public school in a very exclusive school district in New York state. I am not going to name the district, but it’s a bedroom community to New York city, and it’s a town that is known for horse farms, big woods, and celebs (because of the approximately one hour trip to NYC). I recently googled my child’s kindergarten teacher and her salary came up (as all public employees’ salaries are public information). It’s full day kindergarten, and I am aware that all public school teachers have to have extensive education. I am also aware that the teacher is probably nearing retirement, as she is in her 50’s and it’s likely she’s been teaching close to 20 years. Her salary is over $125,000. I was amazed to find this out.

Do you think it’s a crazy salary for a public school teacher (keeping in mind it is in an exclusive district with lots of rich people)? If so, how much do you think a kindergarten teacher should make?

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28 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

It seems crazy to me! How do I get a job as a kindy teacher? Is that the normal pay for a teacher in the US? How much does a tenured university professor get?

dxs's avatar

I am considering education as a career, and one of my teachers told me that the average salary in the D.C. suburbs is high because the suburbs are in rough shape and teachers are in high demand, especially certain departments. Along with this, there is a large teacher drop-out rate. And living anywhere else in D.C. is wicked expensive. I guess that it just has to do with supply & demand and the affluence in society, although the D.C. suburbs themselves are in pretty rough shape. I think that $125000 is a lot for any teacher, regardless of their level of degree or number of years in the profession.

jca's avatar

Actually, @Bellatrix, it depends on if it’s a public university (in other words, a state school) or a private one. Not sure abou the private ones, but when I was in college (at a state school) the professor, whose wife worked at a local high school (a public school like our kindy teacher above) told us that his wife made more than he did, and she did not have to “publish or perish” like he did.

@dxs: I have seen documentaries recently on DC schools and Baltimore schools (if you’re not familiar, Baltimore is not far from DC), which are both notorious districts for high drop out rates, low teacher morale, and all kinds of issues, like high teen pregnancy rates. In the documentary about Baltimore, they showed Parent/Teacher night, and the teachers sat in their rooms and each was visited by maybe 3 parents for the event. Anyway, I can assure you that the district that our kindy teacher (that I am referring to where my child goes) has no such issues at our school and our district. I’d say it’s one of the most affluent areas of NY state and I’m not sure of the per capita income but it’s probably about $100,000 each, because of the wall streeters who live here, and as I mentioned previously, the celebs (who I shall not name because that would reveal the area).

bkcunningham's avatar

It is all relative to the area. What does she pay for housing in that area? What does she pay for taxes? You have to remember that the market will bear what the market will bear.

bookish1's avatar

Yes, it sounds crazy, but public school education in the U.S. (both in terms of salaries and quality) is relative to the tax base of the region.

I am an indentured servant teaching college undergraduates and I make just about a tenth of that salary. But then again, my students don’t pee their pants in class very often.

elbanditoroso's avatar

What’s wrong with that? If she has played by the rules, and if she has done a verifiably good job, then why not?

The way I see it, if she is smart enough to have negotiated that good of a salary, and is doing a good job teaching, then she deserves every penny she makes.

It is the capitalist system at work. What possible reason would anyone have for denying her the fruits of her labor?

hearkat's avatar

Ideally, I think teachers should be well paid, as long as they are providing service to a high standard. A friend of mine who has been teaching in New Jersey for about 20 years probably makes close to that. The unions have a pay scale based on education, experience and certifications. If the teacher gets their Master’s degree it’s a large pay raise. If they take additional courses and get certified for administrative positions – even of they aren’t in an administrative position – they get a raise. My friend works in a very poor district, and they pay more for teachers who will work in those more challenging districts.

Again, I don’t begrudge them. The cost of living in this part of the country is such that’s it’s hard to live on a household income below $100,000. As a professional with a Master’s Degree and 20+ years of experience, I believe I am worth at least that much, but healthcare doesn’t really pay unless you really bust your ass to run your own practice.

JLeslie's avatar

Crazy high. She only works 9 months a year. I’m moving back and getting my teaching certificate. I know our children are important, but come on. Kindergarten is not anything close to the education requirements for a doctor, and some pediatricians make about that much. And, K is basically organized play. That salary is ridiculous.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I live in the Southeast, so price of living is quite a bit lower than it is in NY, but that is a shockingly high salary for a kindergarten teacher.

Here, you don’t even necessarily need a teaching degree to teach kindergarten in public schools. I believe the starting pay for that is very low, about $20K a year according to my childhood education grad friend. Any other public school elementary teacher will start off at around $28K with a teaching degree. By retirement, they’re lucky to get to $50K, perhaps a bit more if they get a graduate degree.

I’d expect higher salaries in a bigger city or in a private school, but $125K for a kindergarten teacher? That’s a bit extreme. She’s teaching 5-year-olds their ABC’s, not rocket science.

gondwanalon's avatar

That is the likely result of teacher’s unions being in charge. That teacher will likely retire getting the same yearly pay.

augustlan's avatar

I doubt any teacher in my area gets paid that much. But, if the cost of living is very high where you are (and it sounds like it is), perhaps it’s reasonable in your area. If teachers couldn’t afford to live there, who would do the teaching, you know?

the100thmonkey's avatar

Teachers should be paid that much. All of them.

Teaching isn’t rocket science; it’s more difficult.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@the100thmonkey I agree that teachers should be making a lot more than they generally do, but what reason is there for a teacher looking after 5-year-olds to make as much as a doctor? Kindergarten teachers, I’m sorry, are glorified daycare employees. Kids could go directly to first grade and be just fine. Teachers are essential, but they shouldn’t make six figures. I could say that cops should make $200K per year for what they do, but that doesn’t make much practical sense either. Hell, all of us should make that much! Woohoo, money!

Shippy's avatar

That is what the higher school fees pay for. It is high. In fact in SA it would be considered mad.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan I played around with a cost of living calculator, and where @jca lives is minimally higher than where we grew up. About 6% more expensive to live it says. $125 for 9 months work as a K teacher seems still very high to me. Do you think $117k for a K teacher in Gaithersburg is high? To me kindergarten is advanced babysitting. I know you live somewhere else now, I wasn’t sure what city to put in for your current area.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@harple As a bank teller, I sure wish I got paid per customer I take care of. No such luck.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m not referring to the salary with when I say this, but I think setting the educational groundwork and building a foundation within a child is one of the most important jobs in the world. Quality early education is very important. I’m surprised by the comments saying that kindergarden is advanced babysitting, glorified daycare and that the children are only learning their ABCs.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham But, everyone is talking about the salary, not the importance of our children.

Part of how someone is paid in America has to do with how many people can do the job. Pretty much anyone who can get through college can get an elementary ed degree. My girlfriend who could barely get through Algebra 2 in college changed to elementary ed because she could get into the school. She would never make it through chemistry like a nurse would need to take, forget about being a doctor. She also could not get into the business school with her abilities. I am not saying all teachers are stupid, I don’t mean that at all, but what I am saying is almost anyone with average intelligence can get the degree and then of course only some people have the personalities to do the job. The neurosurgeon who could get through the degree might never have the patience or love of children to be a teacher.

Do you really think Kindergarten is much more than advanced babysitting? Some children still go to half day kindergarten. Many of the older adults here didn’t even go to kindergarten.

harple's avatar

If her class contained a future president of America how much would you rate her worthiness for this pay? There is so much learned at this age, and for many this is the first real time spent around a peer group, so learning to share, learning what is and isn’t fair, learning how to behave in society to get ahead/along, and of course learning what it is to be in a class receiving education, setting them up for the next however many years of their life. Skills learnt at this age set them up for life. And wouldn’t you want the next POTUS to receive the best possible start like this? And hey, in America you pride yourselves on the fact that the President could come from any walk in life. And that job aside, don’t all our children deserve the best possible education, whatever their age?

To say that this job isn’t valuable is scary to read. And quite frankly I’m surprised that in the land of the free people can be cross that someone has a good salary!

JLeslie's avatar

@harpie I think people think of it in terms of what they get paid themselves for how hard they work and the skill level necessary for their jobs, and then see this salary and think it is very high. Doesn’t make a bit of difference to me if the next President is in there, still sounds like a very high salary to me. Now, there are teachers making only $28k a year in some areas of the country, I think that is rather low even in low cost of living places. But, $28k right out of college for 9 months work is not that uncommon in many professions. Most people work 50 weeks a year when they start working fresh out of college.

Where the OP lives I would expect teachers salaries to be $50k-$150k depending on the grade and subject matter. I don’t know what the range actually os there. As far as kindergarten where she lives. Tops $100k in my book, and that is being generous.

As far as any walk in life. Our teachers who work in bad areas tend to make more money than the average around them. Kind of like hazard pay.

jonsblond's avatar

I agree with everything @bkcunningham & @harple have said. Quality early education is very important. A great first teacher for any child can make a world of difference in how they view school and the importance in learning. This is a very critical teaching period for students. I think all teachers are underpaid and there should be no difference in pay based on what grade is taught. My children were not babysat for 7 hours each day when they were in kindergarten. Children learn the basics, socialization, communication skills and it allows the child to get accustomed to school.

Honestly, now that I’m thinking about it, I think kindergarten teachers should be paid more. A group of 20 or more 5 year olds is much harder to control than a group of 16 year olds. Hats off to the kindergarten teachers. They get a lot of respect from me.

Seek's avatar

Private school, teaching celebrity kids (assuming they probably don’t want a broke teacher selling private information to tabloids for rent money), and 20 years deep in the career, in that area? Sounds good to me.

Coloma's avatar

Well…I’d rather see that kind of salary go to a person who has great influence on children than a sports star or porn star.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
jca's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr: No, it’s public school not private.

Seek's avatar

I apologise. I think I read ‘exclusive’ and my brain said ‘private’.

Either way, I’m much more concerned with the travesty of what the average teacher isn’t paid than what one teacher is.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t want an average teacher. I want an outstanding teacher.

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