Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

How much do teachers make daily/weekly compared to other professions?

Asked by JLeslie (63396points) October 17th, 2013

Whenever I hear complaints about teacher salaries I point out they work less than 10 months a year. Years ago I was talking to a dear friend of mine who teaches elementary ed and when she told me her salary $45k, I said, “If you annualize it you are making $60.” I was basing it on her working 9 months, but many teachers have corrected me that it is 10 months, so ok, I will go with 40 weeks for the exercise we are going to do. It doesn’t matter what number you use, my girlfriend’s reply was, “we do get paid all year.” She just didn’t get it. Luckily, she teaches math to the younger grades.

So here is my math. The average school year is 180 days. 180+20 days for coming in a couple weeks before school starts and staying after the school year end. So, 200 days. For those who are interested that would be 200/5=40 weeks.

Most other jobs lets say 52 weeks in a year-3 weeks for vacation=49. 49X5=245–10 holidays=235 days. Or, in weeks that would be 235/5=47 weeks.

Please check my math and feel free to challenge the assumptions.

So, a teacher who makes $45k makes $1125 a week or $225 a day. If they were working the amount of days most people work that would be $957 a week of $192k.

So, the teachers $1125 a week works out to $52,875 annually if they working as many weeks as many weeks as the average professionals. Use larger numbers, I know plenty of teachers who make $75k, if they worked 47 weeks that is worth $88,125.

Aside from the money question, they get a lot of time off, which is a great perk. Also, let’s not forget that teachers usually get good benefits from pensions to healthcare insurance and more.

What do you think about this? Does how many days they actually work matter? Should it be part ofnthe salary discussion?

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99 Answers

jca's avatar

In my neck of the woods, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher makes at least $130,000 per year. I asked a question about this a few months ago, whether or not people thought it was too much. Some said it was not too much, as a teacher is invaluable to a child.

Because a teacher is a public employee, her salary is google-able, which was how I obtained the information. I do live in a ritzy school district, but I also think that $130k for a kindergarten teacher is a bit much. Plus don’t forget the NYS Pension.

dxs's avatar

I’m an aspiring teacher.
Aside from the money question, they get a lot of time off, which is a great perk.
Well, I have talked to teachers and most of them say that they actually spend most of their time off planning classes. (These are only the teachers that care about teaching and aren’t doing it to bring in cash.) It’s an actual hobby and they don’t mind spending so much time doing it. So, you have to factor that into the math problem, too. Good teachers deserve it.
As @jca pointed out, teaching can get into six digits, but most of the time that is because the cost of living is high and/or it is a tough environment to teach in. Also, check Australia’s teaching prices. Theirs are way higher than ours.

muppetish's avatar

This is not a direct answer to your question, but I think a lot of people overlook that most teachers are not done with their work when they go home from school. You still have to grade, plan lessons, worry about your students, change your lessons, sit on board meetings. A lot of this stuff is not accounted for. It’s a lot of work and a lot of stress. I may have only clocked in an average of 6 hours a week as a TA in paid work, but I also easily did an extra six hours of prepping, grading, and drafting at home each week.

For the amount of unaccounted work done on site, [a good] teacher is still overworked for the amount of pay they are compensated for.

EDIT: Not to mention many K-12 instructors poor their own money into their classrooms for supplies and books that the school cannot afford to provide them with.

And TAs are robbed. Absolutely robbed. But that’s the life we’ve chosen.

JLeslie's avatar

@dxs I would only factor it in if we do for other professions too. I already gave them 4 weeks not part of the school calendar year. My husband answers emails even on vacation and generally will let himself be available if we aren’t out of the country. He reads up on new trends in his business on his own time. He stays late if necessary. He became certified for his profession and keeps that up, which sometimes includes being away over a weekend, or travelling on a weekend day.

JLeslie's avatar

@JLeslie See my answer directly above to @dxs. Plus, when I worked retail we worked like slaves exhausting hours and on holidays on our feet. I realize a lot of teachers spend time on their feet more than the average person who sits at a desk, but nothing like retail. So, I tend to have little sympathy for teachers. I am not talking about cashiers at a store, even managers easily make around the same amount as teachers and work many many many more hours. I don’t think I can be convinced a teacher works more. As I said I give that example because I personally worked retail for years. Some professions work less. There is always some on the high side and some on the low.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie “My husband answers emails even on vacation and generally will let himself be available if we aren’t out of the country. He reads up on new trends in his business on his own time. He stays late if necessary. He became certified for his profession and keeps that up, which sometimes includes being away over a weekend, or travelling on a weekend day.”

That’s nice. How much is he making per year?

muppetish's avatar

It seems as though you have already made up your mind that teaching, as a career, is not as taxing as anything else. Teachers are required to obtain far more education. The job of an adjunct / professor is threatened unless their poor an obscene amount of time into research (easily hundreds and hundreds of hours, sometimes years) for little to no monetary compensation. Some adjuncts will not receive health benefits. Even getting all the education and training completed (which can take thousands of dollars per degree) does not guarantee a teacher a secure job.

Education is such an important career field. It is incredibly taxing—mentally and emotionally. Teachers are not asking for triple-digit salaries (the maximum cap for professors at my previous university was 80,000 and very few professors have reached that level because of the time and effort it takes the climb the ranks.)

You are also not paid for your summers off. You either have money set aside or you work summer school / summer quarter. In a household with two instructors (which is in my future) it can be extremely difficult to make ends meet.

I realize that I am basing a lot of this off of post-secondary education, which is quite different, but I see it as being no different for the K-12 instructors I have met whose jobs are threatened if they lack tenure and who slave over their classrooms and still do not receive the respect that the deserve.

funkdaddy's avatar

I think part of the issue with your theory is that teachers would be limited to jobs that would take them for only the summer. Not a lot of professional level jobs will hire you for 2 months.

So essentially they can take jobs watching children out of school, which will probably pay even less than their teaching jobs do.

“like slaves” in retailso I tend to have little sympathy for teachersand work many many many more hours… oh man

Someone hasn’t watched children, or talked to a teacher about their hours… apparently ever.

Teachers are there before the children arrive, so let’s say 6:30, the final bell rings around 3 (elementary, you can shift hours later for middle and high school), so that’s 8.5 hours so far. Clean the room, grade some papers and head home around 4:30 to beat traffic, take what you haven’t finished with you, (10 hours) spend at least an hour or so planning for the next day (11 hours). So we’re up to 55 hours a week M-F. If you come in one afternoon a weekend and put in 3–4 hours, attend any events on “school nights”, line up a few parent teacher conferences, or shop for supplies on your own time you’re close to 60 hours a week fairly easily.

I’ve worked retail, it’s not anything like watching 25 kids, and few people there work 60 hour weeks every week for 10 months.

geeky_mama's avatar

Holy crap.. $130K per year to teach kindergarten? I don’t know where @jca lives but that’s amazing.

Where I live first year salaries for teachers are about $33K and tenured teachers (those with their masters and/or several years experience) earn about $57K. (Supporting details here)

There are some exceptions..a few of the private schools pay slightly better or worse than that figure—but for the most part, that average is about right for the metro area.

My MIL and my SIL were/are both teachers. (MIL is recently retired) The hours are long, the meetings and hassles with parents can be tedious and grading and required training cut into what should otherwise be personal time (e.g. my SIL has spent weeks of her summers being trained to teach new science curriculum. Tough to find someone who will watch your kids while you go off to a 3-week unpaid mandatory work training program.) Oh, and for upper grades there also tends to be the expectation that teachers will (again, unpaid!) assist with things like chaperoning school dances or being club advisers, etc.

In our area many teachers need to take a second job (I’ve seen a fair number who waitress part time, many more do tutoring or have a job they do each summer at a camp or seasonal attraction.)..

So..I can only assume that their pay is adequate if they have to take these second jobs. They’ve gone to school to get a 4-year degree (just like I did) only to find they need to supplement their income as a waitress? Something seems not right about that..

LilCosmo's avatar

I come from a family of teachers and I teach special education.

Every day I am there before the students and stay after school. Not a single teacher I work with leaves when their “duty hours” are done – most stay at least an extra hour daily. Add to that the extra hours I spend writing IEP’s, conducting IEP meetings, attending student assistance team meetings, staff meetings, department meetings, curriculum days, teacher work days, working until 8:00 at night several evenings throughout the school year for conferences, open house, curriculum night, sporting and other school events, not to mention lesson planning and research and grading papers, and I am well over @funkdaddy‘s estimate of 60 hours. Oh and to even get in the door I had to pay over $3,000 in tuition (per semester) to work for free for two solid semesters (and that tuition is for a state school).

Your calculations are flawed plain and simple.

Seek's avatar

@funkdaddy – not to mention the hassle of dealing with anywhere from 20 to 150 sets of helicopter parents. I can’t imagine the email load these days.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Teachers here start off at $28,000. A girl I know got her first teaching job at a private school recently making about that much. She said the teacher down the hall had been there for 10 years and was making $31,000.

That just sucks, considering they have to deal with little kids all day. And parents of little kids. No thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish I am only talking K-12. I guess I should have specified that, but in my mind teachers are K-12, professors are college level. I definitely have an opinion already, but I am open to hear the arguments for and against. I have changed my mind in the past. I am not saying teachers should only make $30k a year. I am only saying a lot of teachers have never been in any other profession and don’t know the challenges in those, everyone can bitch about something. No matter how many hours a teacher puts in, they still get a weeks in the summer they can not worry about. Maybe it isn’t the full 2 months the kids are out, but it is way more “vacation” time than anyone else in America. I want teachers to make easily $50k+ and many do. Some states pay very low salaries I know. My gripe isn’t really that I don’t want them to make a decent salary, my gripe is plenty of people work extremely hard and also don’t get paid great. I think the $130k @jca reminded us about is high. You aren’t working in the summer, why should you be paid? That is the whole point of my question. Teachers get a bunch of weeks off that other people don’t.

@funkdaddy Ok, maybe there is two more hours on the day than I realized. I have worked retail jobs that scheduled us from 8:00 to 6:00 (although admittedly most stores I worked at were 9:00 to 6:00). Stay late often. Sometimes til 11:00 pm for floor changes and Christmas hours and special store events. I was at the store wearing a suit or skirt, often standing and moving things, and part of that time dealing with associate or customers. Not at home in my loungewear for those late hours. I have no doubt managing 30 young children is a lot of work. I also think having to shop for your own supplies is awful, and I don’t think teachers should be doing it for the majority of the things they need. I also think the amount of hours is too much if it is 60 a week every week (I felt that we were overworked in retail also, easily 50 hours a week, often it was more) and I have no reason to doubt you. My point is lots of people work long hard hours.

Did you work in management in retail?

@glacial When he started his career? $25k. He had to travel quite a bit the first 5 years of his career, which often times at least some of the hours spent on the plane don’t really get counted in the work hours. For 10 years he made less than $100k (gradual increases from $25—$100k) now he does make more than that. He is not at that magical $250k number though that everyone talks about. He got his masters while working full time I think about 7 years into his career, but I could be off by a year. He definitely did not have 4–6 weeks off in the summer, however the teachers want to count those weeks, I’m willing to except just 4. He is usually at work now about 9.5 hours a day. Half hour for lunch typically. Maybe once week he is there more hours. And, as I mentioned. Sometimes at home or even vacation he has to take care of something, but not very often. That happens less than once a week.

Are you a teacher? If not how would you like 8 weeks vacation? 2 weeks at Christmas, a week for Spring break. Most Monday national holidays during the year (well, a lot of jobs give those). The one negative for sure is teachers don’t have much flexibility in when they can take their vacations during the school year. If my husband could take 8 weeks total off every year and it didn’t hurt his momentum in his job I would want him to take the pay cut that would make sense mathimatically in a second. Basically subtract 4 weeks of his salary, because he gets 4 weeks vacation/sick now. 4 more weeks to relax, travel, help his family, do a hobby, and if we had kids, be with our kids. He could not have when making less than $40k (remember that would mean he would only make $37k if his salary is $40, but $50+ for sure we could have done it, at $50 he would make around $46 instead.

The teacher making $130k, if she worked 47 weeks would be making $153k. That is a great salary in my opinion for most jobs. Plus, teachers get great benefits in most states and they pretty much cannot be fired once tenured. I know some get let go, but compared to other jobs, they are way more protected.

I worked the crazy retail hours. Retail managers make anywhere from $25k-$75k Higher salaries for positions about department manager. Most department managers or specialty store managers make $35—$55. Again, working holidays, many late hours, and long hours.

@livelaughlove21 I think that sucks too. But, a lot of people only make that much out of college. How much did you earn your first job out of college? Or, how much will you earn when you start a job in your related field? I don’t remember if you are working or still in school.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie I am not a teacher, but I am training to become a university professor. I am well aware that although classes will not be scheduled full-time, my existence will be justified only by how productive I am in terms of research. There is no such thing as “8 weeks vacation” in my field. In fact, there’s very little downtime of any kind. Work is life is work. Thankfully, it’s work that I enjoy doing. But yes, appropriate compensation is expected. And why not?

Many of the people posting on this question seem to be trying to communicate the same thing to you. Just because a teacher is not standing in front of students in a classroom, it does not mean that they are not working. I’m not sure why you are so resistant to believe this, even from those who are teachers or those who know teachers personally.

Is all of this about why different jobs pay more than retail jobs do? My impression is that retail jobs pay less than just about anything except slinging fast food. Should every field compare to that standard? And why should it be a standard, since retail wages are determined by profit-seeking corporations, and therefore minimized on principle? Do we want that to be the model for compensation for work?

muppetish's avatar

@JLeslie From what I understand, the summer is not vacation time. Only instructors who opt to have their salaries doled out across twelve months will be paid that way (and when you stretch 30k over twelve months, finances will still be very tight in Southern California. A teacher would likely opt to teach summer school to make extra money rather than take time off.) More realistically, teachers in my area would not opt for the twelve-month plan so that they will not have to stretch their budget thin—which translates to no income in the summer unless they teach in the summer rather than go on “vacation”.

While I understand your treatment of the terminology, adjuncts are NOT treated as professors, do not make as much as professors, and cannot count on the same job security. I know lecturers who have worked at the same school for years and they still might not get quarter to quarter. One of my crazy colleagues currently teachers four different jobs in different areas across southern California because a single institution is not going to pay him the salary he desires. It’s not easy.

I also know several k-12 teachers from my former graduate program. They are trying to earn an MA so they they can increase their salaries. They can only take one class each quarter (meeting once a week) because they are too busy to take on more work than that with their current teaching schedules. I have nothing but respect for them and don’t think that I could ever keep up with the amount of work that it takes to teach k-12. And that’s coming from someone crazy enough to wade into a PhD program in a field that will likely never yield me a decent job.

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial Again, I am not talking anout tertiary edication. One of my closest friends is a teacher, she definitely does not work for weeks during the summer.

I talked about my husband’s career also.

I told you the salaries people in retail make, I don’t think the college degreed managers appreciate being compared to a McD’s cashier, not that there is anything wrong with working at McD’s. That cashier gets overtime, they are not usually working 50–60 hours a week like a retail manager.

I see from this thread that teachers work more than I thought, but I think most teachers have no idea of how much many other people work and how shitty the salaries can be. Many counselors amd social workers with masters start in the $30k’s. Low level jobs in business just out of school easily start that low.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish I am not talking about tertiary edication at all for this Q.

You are not going to tell me that it matters whether someone opts for 12 month salary or 10 month are you? Please tell me you are not thinking like my girlfriend who I mentioned in my initial question. I don’t care if you get your entire salary on one day, how often you are paid is irrelevant.

So, you are saying teachers (again k-12) during the summer don’t for at least few weeks have freedom to travel, do with their day as they want, even if they read something related to education, stay out late, sleep late, etc etc.

Just to be clear, I think many teachers are underpaid, I don’t want them making only $30k.

muppetish's avatar

@JLeslie I am saying that, in my experience based on the cost of living in Southern California, it is unlikely that a K-12 instructor—particularly ones with families—will be able to get by on the designated salary for my area. Few, if any, of the instructors at my high school took summers off. They worked through summer in summer school not only to make extra money, but to keep the school in full operation as it was required to stay open during the summer season OR took an additional job as other users in this thread have already mentioned ad nauseum. This was the same for ALL high schools (and middle schools) in my school district.

The teachers in MY area are overworked and underpaid.

I think it is irrelevant that retail works can ALSO be overworked and underpaid. Just because one field suffers doesn’t mean that the others don’t have a right to “bitch” about their financial problems.

ALL education jobs in my state are at risk for salary cuts. If a teacher doesn’t have tenure, they could be fired due to budgetary reasons at any notice. Even the brightest graduate with a shiny new teaching credential might be forced to work as a sub for years before they can land a starting position.

What makes you think a teacher has never worked a different job and doesn’t understand the trials and tribulations of other working fields?

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie You asked whether I was a teacher – that is the question I answered.

I have worked in many retail environments over many long years. I’ve worked my ass off, in fact. But I’ll tell you that working in retail never came close to the demands put on my body and mind by my present course of work. Which is actually why I chose it. Retail was simply not challenging for me, at any level (and I’ve been everything between a gruntling and an area manager). It simply doesn’t compare.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish if they can work in the summer at a different job, they are not working at the primary job. Are you saying while working summer school they also are working full time at their primary job? I want them to be paid a good salary, as I have said, I don’t want them making only $30k. Pretty much no one else has tenure in the US.

@glacial I believe you that presently the pressures and exhaustian are more than when you worked retail. But, you are not a K-12 teacher.

muppetish's avatar

Those who work a different job in the summer usually were not guaranteed summer working hours or their salary was not enough for them to get by during the summer so they picked up an additional (non-teaching) job to get by. Hours during the summer are different. You work half days and are paid less for it and have to cram a full year’s worth of study into two months time with your students.

Again, in my experience, few, if any, instructors took the summer off as a vacation to sit around and read leisurely or go on a trip. Few, if any, instructors could afford to do that.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish I don’t think you are getting it. They can work in the summer because they are not working otherwise. If my husband is making $30k in his job, he cannot work in the summer to make more unless he works two jobs during those weeks. I am fine with teachers wanting more money, but I don’t accept they work the same amount of weeks during the year as most people in the US. So, ok they work summer school and make extra money. Well, most full time workers work in the summer. Think about it.

I don’t think I repsonded to your comment about techers being able to bitch, certainly they can.

muppetish's avatar

“I don’t accept they work the same amount of weeks during the year as most people in the US” because you are only looking numerically at the number of hours and days that they are on the clock without taking into account the hours spent working off the clock (most K-12 are working practically nonstop when they get up and when they come home because your job is NOT over when you go home) as well as the amount of education required for the job and the strain of the job itself.

What professions are you trying to compare educators to? To what purpose? What are you trying to get at or prove?

JLeslie's avatar

I did want to better understand how much teachers work, which I do have those answers now I believe. The amount of education is irrelevant to me. Many jobs require a college education. I realize many teachers also do their masters. So do social workers and people in business and all sorts of professions.

I hear teachers bitch who make a very good salary, and those would be the people I find frustrating. I really think making $80—$100k as a teacher is pretty good. I think they should bitch about the system, not the salary. Refuse to buy things for the classroom with their own money. Refuse to give homework every day to k-5 graders (I think that is ridiculous and hard on the family). I assume teachers in middle school and high school get a period off? I guess elementary get a period “off” if the kids go to PE, art, music, that sort of thing. I realize they work through it, I just mean time not having the children.

I have another friend whose FIL is a teacher and she and her husband used to get all defensive when people kind of attacked teachers. Then they became adults and entered the job market and had children who went to school, and some of their defending of teachers changed drastically. They live in a state with very good salaries though and great benefits for teachers.

funkdaddy's avatar

Please, seriously, look at some numbers. There are a few cases where teachers are making 80k. If they’re lucky, live in an area that pays their teachers well, and after a lifetime of work in the same field. The other side is that millions of teachers never have a chance of sniffing that kind of money. Most areas of the country simply don’t pay that much.

You keep mentioning your husband. So your husband started at teacher level salaries I’m guessing 10 – 20 years ago, worked really hard, and now makes more than just about any teacher. That’s great. He was promoted at some point I would imagine.

Your other example is your experience in retail. If you were a middle manager in retail, and you’re great at getting results for your store, then you have a chance to get promoted. That’s great, work hard, get results, get promoted, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

There is no “promotion” from teaching really, there is no next step on the career path. You train to be a teacher, and have your own classroom, and you get that fairly early. No one is hoping to make “Senior Teacher” or “VP of Classroom 403” or the always contentious “Chairman of Hallway B”.

If you’re a great teacher then the best place for you is teaching, and the raises you get will be incremental regardless. If you need to make more money the only way to is to leave teaching.

You seem to be looking for a reason to believe that teachers make enough and ignoring the widely held belief that they don’t, along with evidence presented to back that up. That’s fine, but don’t leave here with the belief that teachers making 80k are the norm. And please realize that most good teachers could make far more money in their lifetime doing just about anything else. They each choose to educate children for their own reasons, but few of those reasons are selfish.

Are there bad teachers that aren’t worth their salaries. Yes. But the good teachers are worth far more than they are making in most cases. Think about the characteristics and skills you would want in a good teacher, and then think if people with those characteristics would also excel at other career choices that pay far more.

At some point each gifted teacher has to have that conversation with themselves and decide if they’re willing to settle for less money and the associated challenges they’ll encounter in their life in order to continue teaching. That is why teachers are underpaid, because one of the most influential career paths in our society tends to steer the best and brightest away because they can not pay them. Only those who choose to make a sacrifice stay.

Reverse that situation and imagine what public schools would look like.

Or, just tell your friend to quit bitching and get a real job, I’m sure the extra few weeks of work a year will scare them off and shut them up.

LilCosmo's avatar

Here’s what I know for sure at this point. @JLeslie, you are not interested in hearing that teachers are not as well paid as you want to believe they are, you just want people to agree with your theory. I know this because you didn’t even acknowledge the information provided by an actual teacher about how many hours they actually work, you just kept arguing your point.

No one is arguing that retail sales clerks and managers are over compensated, just that teachers are not over paid. If I was to assert that retail sales clerks make plenty of money for the job they do, I would argue that there is a huge difference between helping someone pick out the right sweater for their shape and you know, preparing a human being for college, a career, and a life. Without teachers there would be no one educated enough work in retail or even to hold a job and earn enough money to buy the products retail outlets sell!

I do want to point out that in most school districts teachers are paid what they need to survive in the local economy. A teacher working in Northern California is going to make more than a teacher in Kansas City because it costs much more to live in Northern California. My guess is that @jca lives in an expensive part of the country and teachers make an average living based on what one needs to make to live in that area.

Now let’s take a minute to say you are right, teachers do make enough money. So what’s wrong with that? What is wrong with people doing one of the most important jobs there is making a decent living by doing so? Before you say that isn’t your issue, if it isn’t an issue, why even bring it up?

gailcalled's avatar

In my experience with teaching and teachers, which was in the world of independent day schools, and not the public sector, teachers also (no one excluded) were responsible for non-teaching activities always.

The faculty advised the newspaper, literary magazines, drama,debate and many other clubs, helped the PE people coach, ref. and ump. sports, took kids on day, week-end and week-long trips, and generated dozens of extra non-academic enrichment programs.

Everyone did a lot more than teach…and did it with relish and enthusiasm. The work week was a misnomer and did not extend from Monday to Friday. It extended from Labor Day until the end of school in June. 200 work days is meaningless.

And during the summer and the long vacations, the school facilities were alwasy abuzz with activities, often with staff who were not being paid officially for the work. They pro-rated it into their yearly salary.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo I did acknowledge they work more than I thought when a teacher explained how much work they do. I also said some of the demands seem unreasonable. I also said I don’t want anyone making as low as $30k. But, I also want to know how much they work during the summer. No one has answered that. I need all the information. I guess people are saying if they work 60 hours a week then the 4 weeks doing nothing in the summer makes up for it. Is that it? Are they doing nothing those 4 weeks? Remember they actually are “off” technically more than that, but I am acknowledging they work part of that time planning etc.

@funkdaddy I looked at your numbers and I think they should easily be increased by $10k minimum. About being promoted. Ok, in other professions people can be promoted. In teaching they generally are giving raises just for being there for a certain amount of years. In other jobs they have to produce or they get fired or at minimum no raise. Don’t get me wrong, I think the vast majority of teachers teach because they care about teaching and care about their students, and I think there are very few truly bad teachers.

glacial's avatar

@JLeslie “then the 4 weeks doing nothing in the summer makes up for it.”

You really aren’t listening to anything anyone here is saying, are you?

gailcalled's avatar

Math teacher’s salary (2011) Germantown Friends School Philadelphia, PA

Some experience; upper school (9–12)

Starting $58, 904.

There are regular increases and bonuses plus extra monies for master teachers. At retirement there are very few truly rich teachers. One exception was my son’s 8th grade English teacher; he devloped the Sex ed. program (voluntarily) and wrote books, including the hot best seller, Love and Sex in Plain Language.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie so how many hours they work comes down to how much they work in the summer? That makes no sense. They 60+ hours a week teachers work regularly for the ten months school is in doesn’t count? Extra time only counts if it is worked during summer vacation?

Most teachers I know work at least four to six weeks during summer vacation. They may not go into the actual building, but they are planning lessons, going to conferences, receiving training, studying curriculum, taking classes themselves etc. So in reality that giant chunk of vacation you seems so resentful of, isn’t quite as big as you think.

JLeslie's avatar

@glacial Show me what I missed? Where the summer was explained. I am not trying to be right. I know plenty of teachers who vacation a few weeks in the summer.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo I am not resentful at all. Teachers work 4–6 weeks during summer vacation? You mean student summer vacation? I already acknowledged they start before students and end after, some of it actually in the building even. I am sure they prepare even before they start getting the classroom ready for the year. I acknowledged that too. If they are working 4–6 weeks during summer vacation how do they teach summer school? They are working 120 hours a week? No one is really answering that question.

I think a lot of the work teachers do goes unrecognized, but I also think teachers tend to not realize the hours other people put in. I also think some professions are overpaid and some are underpaid. It’s not like I think teachers should be making $100k less than other people who work as much and their job requires similar academic knowledge, etc. Unfortunately, in America jobs are partly paid based on supply and demand, not necessarily how important the job is.

Also, the pension really counts for something. My grandma was a school counselor, she taught a couple years and hated it, and her pension was a nice help for her. My parents both have pensions from working for the government. They never made a fortune, could have made more in the private sector, although my dad made more than double the average teacher looking at the link provided, my mom made similar to teachers. My dad says he feels “wealthy” now that he is retired. Not because he has millions, but because he gets a check and is free to do whatever he wants, including earn money doing something else. Everything has good and bad and trade offs. People who make more money up front with no pension have to save more and hope their money lasts them for the rest of their life once they retire, i realize even with a pension there are some risks. I think teachers should be able to opt for higher salaries and give up pension or give up tenure benefits, give them a choice.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo Also, I specifically said not retail sales clerks. I am talking management level, those on the floor a lot of hours, in front of customers, managing staff, responsible for influencing product mix, and exceeding sales goals. I think people don’t value how much work retail managers do, so it is similar to teachers in that way. When I switched to working at a desk I could not believe how easy it was relatively speaking. My body didn’t hurt, the pressure was drastically less (because of the type of job it was). I also, as I said, believe the jelly who said teaching is more taxing than retail for her.

gailcalled's avatar

I think teachers should be able to opt for higher salaries and give up pension or give up tenure benefits, give them a choice.

Rarely am I speechless, but this is one of those moments.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled Why? I think Michelle Rhee suggested something similar.

Edit: Here is some info.

More about her.

I am not saying in place of the more money I already think teachers should make on average, I am saying as an option to make even more now.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie I’m still in school until December. The job I want pays almost $29K until the employee completes training at the criminal justice academy and then it goes up a tiny bit over $30K.

I know that’s not out of the ordinary just out of college, but if I was still in the low $30s after 10 years, I’d be pissed.

I just can’t imagine working with kids all day, but that’s just me. I’ll be working with felons if I get that job, so I know some people can’t imagine that either.

Law enforcement and teaching (hell, any state job) are careers known for low pay. Sucks, but not all of us want to be be doctors and engineers.

mattbrowne's avatar

In Germany at a High School with 15 years of experience about €58,930 per year in the year 2010, which is about $80,800.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Yeah, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like I think almost anyone can teach children. It takes a certain personality. I think the salaries in your profession are too low also, just like I think teachers should make more. If you have been reading the thread; what is your opinion of the hours you put in for your education and hours required for your job and the time off you get (which is in question, but interpret what others have said for yourself) compared to teachers.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie; The article you cite was written in mid-2008. Rhee was a controversial chancellor and was haunted by a series of investigations. Her 2008 proposal was shot down by the unions. She continues to preach those ideas but they are not main-stream ones.

We cite the same article. Did you not see the widespread criticisms (in addition to some successes)? I would not use her as a good source of educational reform standards and practices.

Seek's avatar


In Pinellas county, staring salary for a k-12 teacher with experience was $36,000 in 2006. Since then, it’s stagnated, and average teacher salary has gone down steadily over the last three years.

Bearing that in mind, Pinellas is #17 of 67 Florida school districts in teacher salary. They’re working in raising it to 40. Then, after ten years of bust-ass work, they might be able to make 42,000. Right now, it takes 16 years to get to 42k.

I don’t know how many teachers are making bank in public schools, but they aren’t where we live.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I know she is controversial. I provided the link. The union would not allow her recommendations, teachers never had a choice, why not give them the choice? When my girlfriend started teaching math in her 50’s after a career in IT she only made $35K as a teacher, which again, for anyone who isn’t listening, I think that is very low. She wasn’t planning on getting a 30 year pension from the school district. She probably would have opted for more pay no pension and no tenure.

I don’t know how the pensions work for teachers. Can they get a pensions after just 5 years? Even if they have to wait until 65 to start collecting it? I’m sure it varies by state. If just 5 years she might have wanted it, I can’t know for sure. But, why not let her decide as long as it also mathematically works financially for the school system?

She left after one year. If they had given her $10k more she thinks she might have stayed. But, her biggest frustration was some of the ridiculousness in her school district, it was hard for her to watch. One being all seventh graders were expected to do the same math. Drove her crazy. In IT she made around $150k.

Seek's avatar

@JLeslie there are two different retirement programs that Pasco county uses. A 20 year pension program, and a 401k program that locks in after 6 years paying in. They choose which to be in.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think it’s fair to count time commuting or time at home preparing for classes into the amount of hours they work. Most other jobs don’t factor that in, and plenty of people continue to work off the clock when they get home.

And it depends on the grade they teach. Kindergarten teachers don’t have it nearly as hard as high school teachers. They don’t have to retain nearly as much knowledge and school days are shorter, not to mention high school kids are big hormonal bundles of drama and stubbornness. Referring to the old question about this, $130,000 for a kindergarten teacher is absolutely ridiculous.

Yeah, teachers are important, but so are cops, who get paid similar low salaries and work at least 40 hours a week all year – working all night and putting their lives in danger. Both cops and teachers get paid too little and they probably always will, but griping about a job in which you never have to work nights and weekends and you get summers off is a little crazy to me. Teachers know salary information before they decide to pursue that career.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yeah, FL is low. I think those salaries are very low. Most of the southern states are low, and for education I consider us southern except for Palm Beach county and maybe Broward and Dade. I would have to look up what the salaries are in those counties.

Seek's avatar

Dade county starts at 40, which is frozen until year 5. Then they get a 300 dollar bump.

Seek's avatar

My Google-fu is the best.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Here is Palm Beach county salaries. It is one of the more expensive counties to live in in FL.

tom_g's avatar

I don’t know. From what I gather, public school teacher salaries vary significantly by district. And the pay may or may not be decent depending on the cost of living. For example, the average teacher salary in my town was $77k in 2011. That is poor folk money in this town, with the average salary well over $100k and the cost of an average home over $520k.

But part of me thinks this exercise in analyzing teacher salary is a bit useless. Do we calculate the public value of a profession and then assign a salary to that job? No. It’s all driven by the market, etc. Which, in my humble opinion, is complete horseshit. If salaries had any connection to their true importance, this would not be an issue. I make a shit ton more than the average teacher in my town, and I just sit around writing code all day (and procrastinating by getting on my fluther soapbox).

Anyway, I would love salaries to match the true value of a profession. But I don’t see that happening anywhere or for any job. So, for now I can simply say that I would have no problem with more of my tax dollars going to fund the people who are teaching my kids.

Seek's avatar

Pdfs are a pain on my phone.

Either way, if your rent is three times what it is somewhere else, the salary should be higher.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Starting was $38k. At 26 years $71k

@tom_g Exactly. But, teachers keep arguing the job they do is very important. I agree it is very important. But, understanding market forces and salaries that argument is not the primary way to get a lot more money for your job. Add in the movement in parts of America who would be happy to see public schools dissappear.

Seek's avatar

That is criminal.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr How much do you think they should make? I didn’t think that was so terrible. Although, I am still trying to figure out how many weeks off a teacher gets, I still don’t feel I have a real answer.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie, it is clearly pointless to hope you will understand. So how about I just say you are right. Teachers are well paid – even over paid – for the work they do and time they have off. Oh and retail managers perform an indispensable service that few are capable of doing and are woefully underpaid. Does that work for you?

BTW, if you are grateful that you were able to compose this question then read the answers, maybe you could take a minute and thank a teacher. You’ll know them by the Porsche they are driving, but the glare from all the diamonds they are decked out in might hurt your eyes.

Seek's avatar

Saying they get summers off is pointless. There isn’t exactly a market chomping at the bit every May to hire teachers at their regular weekly rate for two months. You cannot annualize the pay because it is not realistic.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo Honestly, your lack of acknowledging my answers doesn’t help your cause. Read @tom_g answer, he spelled it out well how salaries work. I mentioned it way above also, but he expanded better on the point. You think I am only willing to see things from the perspective I have held and holdm which is untrue, this Q taught me where I was wring on some assumptions, but teachers all too often only have their perspective also and are quite stubborn in hearing the realities of salaries work load of other professions. We all do it to some extent, we can’t really know what a job is like until we do it. No one has answered my weeks off question to my satisfaction. I am perfectly willing to listen to the reality of the summer, spring break, christmas, and long weekends.

@Seek_Kolinahr It is still a perk of the job though, but I understand your point. Summer school is an option available.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie, your answers are just you trying to tell everyone they are wrong and further argue your point so it is a waste of time for me to acknowledge them.

FYI, before I went to school to become a teacher I worked ten years as a financial analyst for a major bank. I worked over time on average about ten days a year. I left that job fifteen years ago making more than a starting teacher in my area makes now.

Seek's avatar

For some, and not always. Some districts are doing away with summer school because they can’t afford the extra staff costs. To make up credits in my high school you had to enroll in night school with the dropouts, and pay for it.

Still, for schools that offer it, many do a lottery system to see who gets the privilege of teaching summer school, because so many need the money. Did I mention, reduced money. You don’t get paid as much to teach summer school.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie, um what? Your last response doesn’t even make any sense and seriously adds nothing to the discussion.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yes, I was aware sometimes the summer school positions aren’t available. I guess maybe it is worse than I even realized. Your point is well taken about needing enough to live on just working the regular school year. I think we need to pay salaries high enough to attract teachers obviously. I know you have seen me say on other Q’s I think all full time workers, I don’t care if they sweep floors, should make enough to live on. So, if I had my way a lot of people at the lower part of the pay scale in many jobs would be paid more and some of the very high salaries would be taken down a notch, but that is a different topic.

@LilCosmo What’s not to understand? Throughout my answers I have acknowledged new information. Are you going to answer my summer question? Or, just keep avoiding it? Even if you have to repeat yourself, maybe I missed it in the thread. Are you a teacher? You can copy paste someone else’s answer if they answered that question. It is starting to feel like teachers don’t want to answer that question, because they feel it will hurt their argument for higher pay. That’s how it feels to me, I am not saying I know why you or others might be doing it.

@livelaughlove21 I don’t know what grade is actually “easier.” Elementary I think the teachers are with the children more hours than the higher grades, because I think in secondary school they get some periods off, but I am not sure I am right about that. I think elementary teachers also have to deal with parents more. These are assumptions on my part. High school the teachers might need a stronger knowledge of a particular subject, but elementary ed might need other knowledge regarding teaching that high school teachers don’t need. Things like teahing reading, basics in math, and other things we learn in the early years has some special skill even though for us reading and basic adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing is easy for us. Kindergarten maybe not. In kindergarten it was more like organized play for me with a little learning of alphabet, small words, but mostly anyone could do the “teaching” part of kindergarten, but not everyone would have the discipline or skill andnI am sure there is some planning, to handle all the children. it might have changed in the years since I was in kindergarten. I think there is still is half day kindergarten in some districts, so really how much preparation can there be going on? Maybe a teacher will help me with some of those assumptions about the grade levels.

JLeslie's avatar

@geeky_mama I just looked back at your answer, maybe they should get paid more, but also there is a reasonable expectation they will have to be trained for three weeks during the summer for new skills. They feel like they aren’t paid, because they expect not to work those weeks. Or, am I misunderstanding? I’m not sure exactly how that would work, because it doesn’t sound like they need that sort of training every year.

I know when teachers are forced to teach new subjects or new grades it adds a lot of work onto the initial years of that change. I am empathetic to that.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie I have tried to explain that teachers do work many hours during summer, but I will try again. Most of the teachers I know (this is my first semester so I can’t say how much I personally work during the summer) probably dedicate at least 20 hours a week to their work during summer vacation. Since you did the math with such detail in the original question, I will do a little math.

An average of sixty hours a week for approximately 40 weeks a year (that can vary depending on the district – I used the calendar for my district) equals 2,400 hours. Add to that 20 hours times 12 weeks time off (accounting for time off for Christmas and spring break) equals 240 hours. 2,400 plus 240 = 2,640 hours per year or approximately 51 hours a week over 52 weeks. You will notice I did not factor in any vacation time in that average. A full time worker typically gets 2 weeks off annually, if we divide 2,640 hours by 50 weeks, the weekly average for a teacher becomes approximately 53 hours per week.

Not only do teachers work an average of 53 hours per week, they have to constantly put up with people telling them how cushy their job is and insinuating that they make way too much money for the hours they put in. How incredibly frustrating.

Oh and your “bullshit” answer still makes no sense to me and I still have no idea what you were talking about.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo The student school year 180 days or 36, 5 day weeks. Some schools have 185 I think, so that is 37 weeks. Then I added in 4 weeks (using the 36 number) 2 weeks for teachers preparing before the year starts, and 2 weeks for other days they work during the school year that kids are not in session, but the teachers still are working. A meeting day, a saturday spent doing some work etc. Now, after hearing what teachers have said here, I think it should be more like 5–6 weeks, not 4. So that puts teachers at 41–43 weeks of work. Or, time off at 9–11 weeks a year. I also said average vacation for full time people in other professions is 3 weeks, so I was more generous there. So teachers at 43 week, and others at 49. throw in three weeks of training mentioned by @geeky_mama at times, or some other additional expectation 46 weeks at most from what I can tell, but some years are easier than others. I think they should be paid separately for required training that is above and beyond a typical year. Many years teaching the same thing the lesson plans would be more consistent, the 3 weeks training does not happen every year from what I can tell, etc. Most jobs get easier over time as we master them.

Most professionals who work at an office work more than 40 hours a week, 50 is probably average, take out some lunch time of course. But, the teacher is getting 8 weeks vacation in my example and the other person is getting 3. If we add the training the teacher gets 5. You didn’t do any math for hours people outside of teaching actually work. If we pick and choose professions some do 60 and sleep on a plane while travelling. Some work 45 and work from home. I used retail, because that is a career I worked in, and my husband’s job, because I see how much he works.

So, let’s use my 46 weeks number, let’s even go up to 47 weeks. Are you trying to tell me teachers don’t get a good 2 weeks, or lets say 10 days where they can do whatever they want and not focus on their jobs? They don’t get to travel for a week or two, or take a few long weekends, no, they work the whole summer? If that is true some of my friends a getting away with something, because I am sure they visit me sometimes for a week in the summer, or take their kids up north, or party a little more than they do during the school year.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie, thank you so much for helping prove my point that your goal here is not to receive new information or clarify anything, but to convince everyone you are right. I could not have done it better myself!

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo Is that what I proved? I went from thinking a teacher works 40 weeks to saying they work more like 46 or 47 weeks and you give me no fucking credit, and consider me to be closed minded to new information? Give me a break.

gailcalled's avatar

@muppetish: Good link; clear and excellent summary of the difference between fact and myth.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLealie, I used an actual district calendar to come up with the number of weeks teachers work and you still want to discount my information in an attempt to prove your point. If that isn’t closed minded, I am not sure what is. FYI dropping an f-bomb does nothing for your argument.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish Thanks for the link. I agree with most of it, as I had said already after listening to the arguments, but I still hold out on a few points. I still am not on board about the teaching summer school point. They get paid for teaching summer school above and beyond their salary for their primary job. They can’t be working full time in the summer and also teaching summer school, is that what they are trying to say? Shouldn’t teachers who teach summer school make more than those who don’t? I just really don’t understand why summer school is brought up, except as a point that most teacher salaries are too low, which I agree with, and the cost of living and inflation information in the article gave good information about that. A lot of people are in that same situation in many jobs right now. It’s horrible and bad for everyone. The extra training required in the summer I think they should be paid extra for if there is not a yearly consistent requirement of it that would already be included in their salary.

The article said many comparison made to other professions look at teachers hourly or weekly pay based on the student school year, I never did that. I know they work more than the student year.

@LilCosmo Had you told me that before? You used a district calendar. The district calendar has you working 20 hours a week during the summer? Or, what exactly are you referring to? Some advice: stick with teaching, or at minimum, never consider a job that involves negotiating.

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslie, before giving me career advice please note that it is impossible to reason or negotiate with someone who is willfully ignorant. Also keep in mind that personal attacks are not an effective negotiating tool.

muppetish's avatar

@JLeslie Who on earth implied that any instructor is working full-time, as a teacher, in the summer? It has already been noted that summer school is only available to a smaller portion of instructors as a PART-TIME gig (far shorter hours) with the SAME amount of teaching required (one-full year of teaching crammed into two months of coursework—same grueling hours of grading).

Teachers are NOT paid for working in the summer. Teachers are paid for a 10-week calendar and SOME districts provide the the option to have their salary distributed over the course of 12-months, while MOST opt (or are defaulted) to be paid over 10-months because they would otherwise NOT be able to make rent and get by.

You have refused, again and again, to acknowledge how much time a teacher spends working. For a class of 30 students, I spent 35+ hours grading their 3–4 page papers (I read EVERY paper twice for fairness and accuracy). If the assignment was shorter, a page or shorter, I might finish in 2–3 hours. If the assignment is longer, such as a research paper of 6–7 pages, then it requires significantly more time that I am not compensated for monetarily.

Now factor in that a K-12 instructor, specifically thinking middle school or high school, in CA will have a class significantly higher than 30 (usually 35) students. Now multiply that times 5 classes (because one class is a prep period where you may grade and plan on campus.) Then factor that you might be the director of the school play so you have to stay after school (to no compensation) to lead the aspiring drama students on campus because if you don’t do it voluntarily they will not have this as an option because the school can’t afford it.

There is a reason teacher burnout rates are so high (most won’t last beyond five years—many instructors I knew in high school no longer work as an educator because they could not handle the enormous amount of work and pressure.) If the summer “vacation” was so cushy and sweet, why would so many people quit?

I have said all of this before, but perhaps not as coherently as I should have. NONE of this information is irrelevant to assessing whether teachers are overworked or underpaid. If the entirety of your definition of “overpaid” boils down to how a teacher spends their summer, then I don’t think this discussion is going to go anywhere.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo I personally attacked you? Fee free to flag it wherever I did that. I am just saying not giving me any credit for acknowledging where I might have underestimated some things is not helpful to your cause. If you are a new teacher I would guess you are puttingnin a lot of hours, like most people do when new in a career.

Seek's avatar

@muppetish – can I hug you?

LilCosmo's avatar

@JLeslis, first, I consider telling me that I should not attempt a particular career because I would not be good at it is an attack whether you want to pretend it isn’t or not.

Second, why should I give you any credit for adding a couple hours to your flawed estimate and expecting me to buy into it?

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish Pretty much the teachers seem to be saying they work in the summer. Are they working or not? How many weeks do they get off in the summer? Not the children’s school year, but how many weeks would you say teachers actually have in the summer for themselves? I’m just trying to get at an honest number, I am not trying to be right.

Why don’t you get that it doesn’t matter if a teacher is paid one day a year, or every Friday for a year? Why do you keep bringing that up? If I make $50k a year, I don’t care if I get it all on the first day or throughout the year. If I didn’t get it until the end of the year that might be tough, and unnacceptable for several reasons, but it is still the same amount of money (except loss in possible interest income). Not getting paid for 2 months during the summer is meaningless. What means something is if a person gets compensated justly for their work. There is no way a teacher can argue they should get paid for time not worked, that isn’t going to work. They have to argue the time they do work is worth more. If they want the salary paid over 12 months and their district offers it fine. If they prefer over the 10 months fine also.

I have said that I think many teachers are underpaid and that I feel they should be compensated for extra work, including thinks like drama after school hours.

JLeslie's avatar

I forgot to say teacher burnout should be addressed. I don’t think any amount of money cures that. Asking teachers to do too much has to be dealt with.

JLeslie's avatar

@LilCosmo Sorry if you felt personally attacked, it wasn’t my intent. Please flag it if you feel it is personally offensive and let the mods delete it.

muppetish's avatar

Maybe you don’t care when you are paid, but I sure as hell do considering rent, gas, insurance, groceries, supplies, utilities, Internet, phone bills, etc. all add up in CA to one enormous price tag no matter how you cut it. A chunk of that paycheck goes toward taxes, another retirement, another medical and dental—and YES, those are all benefits (our unions fought tooth and nail for them) but that still means going home with less money to feed your hungry family. So THAT is why I keep bringing up when and how a teacher is paid.

Do other employed Americans have it hard? Fuck yeah they have it hard. I have seen my parents struggle over the years to get by, scrimping and saving. I know my dad poured in tons of overtime for a job he didn’t care about, for employers who didn’t care about him. I KNOW how it is hard. I also know how it is hard being an educator in California. And that is what I am desperately trying to bring to this discussion to no avail.

Teachers typically work in the summer because they HAVE to. One teacher at my high school worked as a blogger to make pocket change. Another went to a different campus to work summer school because our school wouldn’t hire him. Another teacher used summer to try to further their education. My SO’s history teacher worked in retail because he needed extra money. You know, retail. The career field YOU keep bringing up.

I can’t say how much time a teacher has off during the summer because it varies, completely, teacher to teacher. Some will use summer to get all of their lessons planned, others will use it for training (new technologies, new curriculum, new testing, new standards, new bullshit), others will attend conferences (some paid for by the school, most not), others will attend mandatory summits. And, yes, some will take some of that time off to recuperate. How vile of them!

Nobody can give you a clear-cut answer because there IS none.

@Seek_Kolinahr I could sure use one.

JLeslie's avatar

@muppetish Thank you. I feel you gave a very accurate account of what being a teacher is like for you. I really appreciate it.

jca's avatar

I don’t have time right now to read all the previous answers, and I have not looked at this thread since last night so a lot of new responses have been written.

I have good friends that are teachers and I can assure you that after their first few years of work they were not working every night doing lesson plans, as they pretty much use the plans from the previous years. They do not work “all summer.” I can assure you they are on trips and enjoying very much the benefits of having two months off. Here in NYS they get from about the last week of June until right after Labor Day weekend. Yes, they need to come in a few days prior to the start of school to set up their classrooms, have meetings with administration, and prepare for the start of the new class. They do not work through Christmas vacations, winter break, spring break, etc. They do not “start work at 6:30 in the morning as has been written way way up there (on this thread). They get breaks during the day when the kids go to other classes (elementary school) like art and music, and the high school teacher friends I have get breaks throughout the day as “free periods” which they use to mark papers, homework, stuff like that.

When I look at my daughter’s school calendar, on the months where there is no holiday off, there is always one day of no school on those non-holiday months which is designated as “teacher development day” and they have trainings, which may or may not be optional. Teachers are required a certain number of “development hours” per year, and so they can, at their discretion, schedule courses for development on those days, but of course, not every one of those free days will be spent in a development course.

Parent/Teacher night is one night per year. I know if I want to see my daughter’s teachers, I have to schedule something right after the end of the school day (as it should be, I am not complaining, I am just pointing out that pretty much around 3:15 they are in their cars and headed home).

I know teachers need Master’s Degrees, at least in public schools here, after 5 years of teaching. However, I feel that $130k per year for a kindergarten teacher for what is about 9 months of work is not too shabby. Even those in other parts of the country who may make $50k, it’s not too shabby.

jca's avatar

Where I live, when I was in college, (a SUNY), my professor said that his wife was a HS teacher at one of our local town public high schools, and she made more than he did. I know that was true, based upon what I know about local school teacher salaries here.

jca's avatar

@muppetish: I see right off the bat, reading this, that you are saying that teachers work round the clock. I can assure you that the teachers that I know personally are not working around the clock. They get out of work and they go home and spend time with their families and do not do school work at home. That’s what their free periods during the work day are for. They take summer vacations during the summer. They’re not working in the summer. They are off during summer and off during Christmas break, winter break, spring break.

muppetish's avatar

@jca I live in a very different area than you where teachers are certainly not paid $130k. I know the teachers in my school district were overworked. Our schools, especially the art programs, are extremely underfunded and the instructors are required to help pick up the slack and provide what they can, whether that means extra time or money. The youngest instructor volunteered to lead drama, another signed on for ASB, and another for journalism. One of the three of them quit after six years.

I also know that the professors at my former university were overworked—(the most recently hired professor in my department arrives on campus at 7:30 AM and leaves at 5PM, and 10:20 PM on grad class nights—I know he is overworked). I made more money as a tutor than I did as a TA.

Yes, some teachers find a rhythm and are able to relax. It could take years for a teacher to fall into that rhythm though. And by that time, many teachers give up and quit.

And a high school instructor who only spends their prep period grading is not doing a very good job as instructor. I was speaking specifically of an English instructor because that is the field that I am more intimately connected with and understand the logistics with more clarity than other roles such as science or kindergarten.

I can assure that the majority of instructors at my high school sought work in the summer to make ends meet. It was only the older faculty members (50+ years old) who took the summer off to spend time with family. Even the professors at my university who do take a significant portion of their summer to travel or spend time with their kids (who go back to school earlier than they do) spend a good chunk of their time conducting research, writing articles and books, and honing their curriculum which should NOT remain stagnant if it is to be relevant. The professor I previously mentioned was on campus regularly this summer even though he was not being paid to be there because he wanted to spend valuable time conducting research.

Seek's avatar

I just found out that the art teacher at my sons school gets 12k a year.

This is an improvement over last year, when the only art classes were taught by volunteers.

JLeslie's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr We need to know how much she works. I made $7k a couple years in a row. So? I was making about $20 an hour, which I thought was very good pay for what I was doing at the time.

jca's avatar

Where I live, teachers in private schools generally make less than teachers in public schools. This is not directly a response to @Seek_Kolinahr, because I am not sure which type of school the art teacher teaches in. I did mean to say it before, because it’s relevant to people’s responses. Here, private schools generally start teachers around 25k – 30k, whereas public schools generally start around 45k – 50k.

tom_g's avatar

I’m having a difficult time following this thread. Can someone summarize for me what the disagreement is about (if there is one)?

I’m a little confused that there are many people here comparing working and career development hours between professions. Is that what we are talking about? Whatever can be said about market-driven salaries and how it undervalues the valuable shit, I’ve never heard anyone (including the teachers I know) complain about the number of hours they have to put in – related to other jobs. If there is one thing that seems pretty clear – that despite the less-than-ideal pay, the hours/calendar is one perk of being a teacher. Just to be clear – of course it is no picnic. But the comments about career/skill development taking up a portion of free time are confusing.

Seek's avatar

The art teacher I mentioned works for a public elementary school, full time. Regular school schedule, obviously.

Seek's avatar

@tom_g, I’m not exactly sure what @JLeslie is driving at either.

I mean, compared to congressmen, we’re all dramatically overworked and underpaid. But then, we’re not congressmen.

tom_g's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – Maybe @JLeslie has lost track of her original position, but has sparked some anger from some teachers or teacher-advocates. And we could just be witnessing these people vent about teaching, while @JLeslie serves a vital role and allowing some people to let off steam. I see some steam – I just can’t figure out what it’s all about at this point.

Maybe there’s little (or no) disagreement on this thread at this point. If I’m wrong, maybe a re-boot is in order.

jca's avatar

Also, in NYS teachers (public) can retire after 20 years with a full pension.

Not sure if that applies to other states.

@geeky mama – I live in a suburb in southern NYS, about one hour north of NYC.

funkdaddy's avatar

Let’s be real for a second regarding the market for teacher salaries, the thing that keeps teacher’s salaries low is the personality types of people who are attracted to teaching. They’re unselfish, giving people who want to help children.

If teachers were sharks, they have the leverage they need to demand higher salaries. They’re organized (as in unions, not as in filing), educated, skilled labor, that is vital to our way of life and cannot be replaced quickly. If teachers were provided by a private business, their salaries would be higher.

If teachers walked out in appreciable numbers, after any amount of time the lower productivity due to parents having to stay home or find other accommodations for their children, communities would eventually pay higher rates.

Daycare is expensive.

They aren’t sharks, they don’t leave parents and families hanging, they don’t play hard ball. It’s not their nature. So they come cheap.

When they do hire sharks to advise them, they strike, and I would wager they get more money.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g I was the one who brought up other professions work long hours. Teachers don’t seem to care. I have a problem with that. If you want someone to care about your hours, have some care about the hours others work. They seem to feel superior to other professions, that won’t get anyone anywhere. I mentioned teachers get weeks off in the summer, and some jellies came back with what I hear from teachers in real life also, that they work more weeks than people think and then they start talking about the amount of education they have and working at home. Well most professionals have college degrees so that doesn’t really sway me, although I respect getting through the education necessary.

One jelly on here basically tried to say they work all through the summer, which I think is not true, so I was trying to get to the bottom of it in case I am wrong. I do not mean working summer school or a second job, why do they think that is relevant to anything, that is a second job. If their point is they don’t make enough money to make ends meet, ok I will listen to why they should be paid more. People making their same salary who don’t have summer weeks to earn more are in a worse spot financially.

For jellies to say having time off in the summer isn’t a perk is disengenuous to me. I also want them to have higher salaries, which they seem to ignore, but they have to be willing to acknowledge most people have to work all year. If they want to bitch about working 60 hours a week, I think they should bitch about that. It seems excessive to me, but 50 hours a week doesn’t, that would be normal to me.

The whole point of my question is how much are teachers making and how much are they really working. Just to know. To have a more realistic picture, because I am sure some of my assumptions are wrong. Once I have the information I can form my own opinion on how much I think is a commensurate salary. From this Q I realize they are working longer hours than I thought, but I also feel the whole summer question was ignored by most teachers, like they don’t want to admit they have some free time. Why? That dies not help them. If I question their honesty in one place, I can’t trust the rest. Not all jellies did that, some jellies agreed they get time off in the summer. I have friends who are teachers, I know they are available a lot of the summer, and that they relax over Christmas break for the most part.

Teachers talk about not getting paid for grading papers, well that is part of their job. it is part of their salary. They are salaried exempt workers as far as I know. Keeping their license up to date, most professionals have to do that, and many pay for it themselves. Additional training for a curriculum change, I think the schools should pay. I think teachers would do well to really think about what they want more pay for and why it is justified and understand how others work and are paid so they can argue their case in a way that isnpersuasive to everyone else.

My husband makes a lot of money because we dealt with the stress of moving states, leaving family, changing jobs, and working a ton. I tell all professionals if you want to make money in your field go where the money is. Eventually market forces will cause the low paying places to have to compete. The worst paying places tend to be red states where people with any money tend to put their own kids in private school and not want to fund the public schools. That isn’t always true, but somewhat true. Those states also don’t tend to have unions. I think teachers need to maybe change their battle cry and they also need to be very specific and very honest about the work they do. Not be defensive and frustrated.

The question was for my curiousity and also to see how others felt about it.

You admitted you don’t work that hard and have free time to fluther. I think teachers should be willing to admit the perks of their job so they will be taken seriously where their job sucks.

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy We posted at the same time. Right, you are right that teachers are not striking. I am not sure if it is a personality thing, but I think it is partly heldover from when women were teachers and they were usually married. They liked the earlier hours for more time with their kids at home, their husband’s were bread winners, and they liked the summers off when their children were off too. I don’t mean they didn’t also have a love of teaching and children in general, but they accepted the lower salaries, because they often were not the sole salary. I had many male teachers growing up though, so I am not saying married women were always the case.

When I was very little I lived near @jca and then later outside of DC which I assume has decent salaries, but I doubt they are as high as the NY salaries. The area @jca lives I am betting has a big emphasis on education, and even people with quite a bit of money send their kids to public school. When I lived in TN that was not the case. A ton of my friends sent their kids to private. It was a fortune. More than they pay for their children to go to college at a state school.

Private school teachers often make less than public, it depends on the school district.

tom_g's avatar

@JLeslie, thanks for the summary.

@JLeslie: “You admitted you don’t work that hard and have free time to fluther. I think teachers should be willing to admit the perks of their job so they will be taken seriously where their job sucks.”

Note: I’m not necessarily saying that I don’t work hard. My point is that salary isn’t related to how hard you work. It just isn’t. That’s where I think all of this talk (on both “sides”) is missing the point. Either the service that is provided is of value or it isn’t. If teachers don’t have time to do what it takes to be great at their job, then salary doesn’t even come into the conversation. We have bigger problems.

But if this is going to turn into a pissing contest about who works harder and gets paid the least for their hard work, everyone is going to come out of it smelling like piss.

JLeslie's avatar

@tom_g Noted. I agree with you 95% of the way. Where I veer off is I think we should value somwehat how draining a job is physically and mentally, even though I agree we don’t really base pay scale on that in America. It’s more of let’s say an idealism of mine of how I wish it was, rather than how it really is.

LilCosmo's avatar

@jca I am sure you are glad that your daughter goes to school in a distinct that values their teachers and pays them well. I am sure that decent pay relates to lower turnover (which translates to more experience), excellent motivation, enthusiasm, and dedication, all of which can only help educational outcomes.

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