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Atlantic article on teacher pay


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Yeah, we call this our annual, mandatory, unpaid furlough. It's really awesome! We take such great summer vacations without a salary. All that scrambling around for tutoring, and summer program jobs is a hoot as well. Too bad we can't just eat or live for only 10 months a year.

 

Well considering I just paid about $7,000 for summer camps (not including transportation service) so I can work through the summer, I would say being able to choose to keep the kids home all summer is worth something too.

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I'm furious that we pay teachers as little as we do. In many states pay would need to be doubled to be a fair wage.   I think it is symptomatic of misguided and myopic capitalism (not recognizing th

I do not wish my 600 students to email me every time somebody needs to speak with me and arrange a meeting time, thank you very much. I much rather make myself available for a few hours each week at a

It's not just teachers -- it's college faculty too, especially in the humanities. I have a PhD and had a tenure-track job with a 3/3 teaching load at a wonderful school and made $44,500 in a high COL

It’s not so much the starting salary, but the finishing one. When DH and I moved here, I had a higher degree and more experience in my field. I taught K-6. He started as an entry level software engineer. Our salaries were approximately the same, if you assumed that my summers off were actually off.

 

By the time DD was born, his salary/benefits package was twice mine. Now, if I were to go back, it would be 3x mine. The big difference is that there really was no way to move up the ladder without changing jobs and going into administration.

 

But that lack of motion really means that young teachers without a spouse in a higher paying profession are stuck. And if you graduate with student loan debt or live in a place where the average house is 10x what it is here, well, you’re really stuck.

 

I’ll also point out one more thing. DH has a 401k and a significant match from his company, plus stock purchase options and stock bonuses. I have shares in a state run teacher pension system that is constantly being looted and may not exist. (Plus private retirement savings largely funded out of DH’s salary). So choosing teaching is very much the job that keeps not giving.

 

I only quoted part of your post but all of it is almost exactly our situation. When dh and I met we had about the same number of years experience in our respective fields. He had a 2 year degree I had a B.S. He made almost twice my salary. 

 

We knew we wanted one of us to stay home if we had kids but there's no way my salary would have allowed him to be a sahd. It was okay for a single person or as a second income, but it was not a salary that could support even a small family like ours. 

 

If I had stayed (or even if we sent ds to school and I went back then) dh would be making thrice my salary. I also would have needed to go back and get my Master's - it's not required but strongly encouraged. As you said, ending salary is not in line with years and experience. After 30 years and with a Master's degree I'd still be making under $70K. While that's not chump change it doesn't match all the years and classes you put in to get there.

 

Re: advancement. Not all teachers want to go into administration. If you like teaching you don't want to become an administrator but that's the only way to really get a decent salary that matches your education and experience. 

 

My health benefits were decent - even comparable to the private sector - but as you pointed out the state retirement package teachers get is nothing like that of a private sector 401K.

 

 

I think teachers are great and deserve more pay, but I don’t know any teachers regularly working 60-70 hour weeks. Seriously, a 70 hour week is working 7-5 with no breaks every single day of the week including weekends. Hardly anyone regularly works 70 hours a week in any profession. I asked my mom (a public school elementary teacher) and she said no one at her school works even close to that much.

 

While 70 might be an exaggeration, 60 is not. Did/does your mom never bring home papers to grade? Never worked on lesson plans at home? People might be picturing teachers sitting in their classroom working long after the kids are gone, but that's not what most teachers do. They cart their work home almost daily and spend their after dinner time and weekends working.

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As someone who recently left the adjuncting life, I don't mind sharing. I've actually discussed this on the college board.

 

 

 

Thank you for that post. It was enlightening. I knew adjunct professors had to put up with a lot of cr@p but seeing it all written out like that really brought it home. I don't think my college ds gets it when he complains about some of his instructors. I'm going to show him your post.

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... While 70 might be an exaggeration, 60 is not. Did/does your mom never bring home papers to grade? Never worked on lesson plans at home? People might be picturing teachers sitting in their classroom working long after the kids are gone, but that's not what most teachers do. They cart their work home almost daily and spend their after dinner time and weekends working.

 

I think this varies depending on how long the teacher has taught the same grade / course.  My kids' teachers definitely use whatever they did last year and the year before that etc., tweaking it here or there but not having to do the planning all over every year.  I am sure newer teachers who are dedicated spend a lot more time on planning as they are still figuring out what works.

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I was a part-time professor one year.  I considered it a volunteer position.  The pay wasn't much more than what I paid to park there.  While they provided me with a book, I wrote (and graded) my own tests and assignments, had office hours, etc.  It was fun and a nice thing to put on my resume.  I definitely wouldn't recommend it as a career.  :P

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My health benefits were decent - even comparable to the private sector - but as you pointed out the state retirement package teachers get is nothing like that of a private sector 401K.

 

 

While one will not become extremely wealthy with a teacher retirement package, for some people they are far superior to a private sector 401K.  In my state, someone who starts teaching at the age of 30 can retire at 55 and is guaranteed a pension of almost 60% of their salary.  

 

401K plans that are defined contribution plans do not guarantee any specific return.  In fact, if the stock market falls, the worker can lose retirement money.  If the market is going up, and the worker is more aggressive with the investment plan, then the value of these plans can grow quickly.  I know few people who have been able to retire after working 25 years with 60% of their salary given these types of plans.  

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I think this varies depending on how long the teacher has taught the same grade / course. My kids' teachers definitely use whatever they did last year and the year before that etc., tweaking it here or there but not having to do the planning all over every year. I am sure newer teachers who are dedicated spend a lot more time on planning as they are still figuring out what works.

Don’t forget having to plan and reset to meet the newest mandate, which your books and materials are not aligned to, and adjust to new textbooks/materials (which you may or may not actually be able to use. My district had a bad habit of buying materials that required technology, but not the technology). And adapting for individual student needs. It may seem like you get to teach the same stuff every year and it should be easy (and sometimes it is. I have a poster for “Rattlesnake Skipping Song†that I made in 1998, and is still very usable), but it isn’t a case of “create what works once and then go through the motions for 20 years. Not in public schools, anyway. And I suspect not in private ones, either.

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I promise I am not trying to be difficult.

 

The elementary school across the street has 6hr and 45 minute says. Even if teachers work (at school or home) an additional 3 hours Monday-Thursday and another 5 on weekends they are still at about 50 hours a week.

 

My mom, aunt, all 3 of dh’s aunts, 3 of my SIL, and my next door neighbor (until we moved) are all teachers. They live in 5 different states and none of them work that much.

 

My neighbor got to school at 8:00 and left at 4:00. She went to the school to work most Sunday afternoons for 3 hours. She maybe did an hour of work each night at home after kids bedtimes. So about 48 hours a week. My mom works 7-4 M-F and rarely if ever brings work home-so 45 hours a week.

 

I would be really surprised if other teachers are regularly working 12-15 hours more a week. Maybe a few of them are, but I don’t think it is the norm.

 

It isn’t just teachers. I think everyone exaggerates the number of hours they work. People remember the time they did work a 70 hour week and think it is the norm. It is rare for people to regularly work 60+ hours over an extended period of time.

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This is a bit OT but I would love to see more job sharing become available. I think we need to push for this, especially in the jobs that pay higher $$ per hour of work--an arrangement that would allow working parents more flexibility and part time work with decent earnings.

 

Divorcing health benefits from employment would help as they are often tied to a full time status.

I agree, especially with separating health benefits from employment. That alone would give people so many more choices in where and how long they work. I currently work with two people who are over 60 and have full pensions. They could easily retire and live in their pensions if not having to spend $1000+/month for medical insurance until they are eligible for Medicare. I also have seen people stuck in a job they hated and weren’t suited for just for the health insurance.

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I promise I am not trying to be difficult.

 

The elementary school across the street has 6hr and 45 minute says. Even if teachers work (at school or home) an additional 3 hours Monday-Thursday and another 5 on weekends they are still at about 50 hours a week.

 

My mom, aunt, all 3 of dh’s aunts, 3 of my SIL, and my next door neighbor (until we moved) are all teachers. They live in 5 different states and none of them work that much.

 

My neighbor got to school at 8:00 and left at 4:00. She went to the school to work most Sunday afternoons for 3 hours. She maybe did an hour of work each night at home after kids bedtimes. So about 48 hours a week. My mom works 7-4 M-F and rarely if ever brings work home-so 45 hours a week.

 

I would be really surprised if other teachers are regularly working 12-15 hours more a week. Maybe a few of them are, but I don’t think it is the norm.

 

It isn’t just teachers. I think everyone exaggerates the number of hours they work. People remember the time they did work a 70 hour week and think it is the norm. It is rare for people to regularly work 60+ hours over an extended period of time.

 

Are these elementary teachers?  

 

My brother is a high school teacher.  He teaches a number of different classes a day, in more than one subject.  The subjects can change from year to year, so rinse and repeat is not so easy. I think he gets one planning period/day?  During which he works.  He runs more than one after school club.  He meets with kids after school for extra help.  And the grading.  You forgot the grading. For elementary, with one class, maybe not that bad.  He's got umpteen classes and tests and labs to grade.  He's often up till 2am grading.  And has to be at at school at 7, and is usually there past 5, plus all that grading at home.  I think it may be even worse for teachers with classes that need to grade essays!  Oh, yeah, and the continuing education you have to go to to keep your salary up.  On your own time.

 

And those summers?  He works.  Often more than one job.  Because - he has to support his family and earn money even in the summer.

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I think this varies depending on how long the teacher has taught the same grade / course.  My kids' teachers definitely use whatever they did last year and the year before that etc., tweaking it here or there but not having to do the planning all over every year.  I am sure newer teachers who are dedicated spend a lot more time on planning as they are still figuring out what works.

 

When you're teaching different kids every year you don't get to use the same thing over and over. I taught children, I didn't teach a subject. Children are individuals as any parent with more than one child knows. I taught for 15 years. Some things I could reuse. Many I could not. Plus times change, curriculum changes, technology and other teaching tools change. 

 

Reusing the same lessons year after year without adjusting for different kids and changing times is phoning it in. Other teachers don't respect their colleagues who phone it in. 

 

ETA: I see that dmmetler mentioned this as well. What she said.

Edited by Lady Florida.
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I promise I am not trying to be difficult.

 

The elementary school across the street has 6hr and 45 minute says. Even if teachers work (at school or home) an additional 3 hours Monday-Thursday and another 5 on weekends they are still at about 50 hours a week.

 

My mom, aunt, all 3 of dh’s aunts, 3 of my SIL, and my next door neighbor (until we moved) are all teachers. They live in 5 different states and none of them work that much.

 

My neighbor got to school at 8:00 and left at 4:00. She went to the school to work most Sunday afternoons for 3 hours. She maybe did an hour of work each night at home after kids bedtimes. So about 48 hours a week. My mom works 7-4 M-F and rarely if ever brings work home-so 45 hours a week.

 

I would be really surprised if other teachers are regularly working 12-15 hours more a week. Maybe a few of them are, but I don’t think it is the norm.

 

It isn’t just teachers. I think everyone exaggerates the number of hours they work. People remember the time they did work a 70 hour week and think it is the norm. It is rare for people to regularly work 60+ hours over an extended period of time.

Because a 6 hour 15 minutes day for students is probably an 8 hour day for teachers due to the need to provide supervision as students arrive and depart, meetings and other duties as assigned. Add the 2-3 hours on top of that, and yeah, you’re looking at 60+ hour weeks during the school year. If you do less, it’s probably because you spent 30-40 hours a week unpaid all summer.

 

I will also point out that high school teachers have fewer course preps-most only teach 2-3 separate classes/levels, but each multiple times a day. Elementary teachers have at least four main subjects, plus a ton of other lessons to teach and do not repeat. And the younger kids are, the less their materials are open and go. It takes a lot more prep to teach kindergarten than to teach 5 sections of Algebra 1. High school teachers tend to have a lot less prep, but more grading. And it is far more likely that high school teachers will end up sponsoring or chaperoning on weekends and at night.

Edited by dmmetler
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Because a 6 hour 15 minutes day for students is probably an 8 hour day for teachers due to the need to provide supervision as students arrive and depart, meetings and other duties as assigned. Add the 2-3 hours on top of that, and yeah, you’re looking at 60+ hour weeks during the school year. If you do less, it’s probably because you spent 30-40 hours a week unpaid all summer.

 

I will also point out that high school teachers have fewer course preps-most only teach 2-3 separate classes/levels, but each multiple times a day. Elementary teachers have at least four main subjects, plus a ton of other lessons to teach and do not repeat. And the younger kids are, the less their materials are open and go. It takes a lot more prep to teach kindergarten than to teach 5 sections of Algebra 1. High school teachers tend to have a lot less prep, but more grading. And it is far more likely that high school teachers will end up sponsoring or chaperoning on weekends and at night.

I know I am being difficult about this but an 8hr work/school day plus 3 hrs each work/school day is still only 55 hours- not 60+. Edited by lovinmyboys
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I think this varies depending on how long the teacher has taught the same grade / course.  My kids' teachers definitely use whatever they did last year and the year before that etc., tweaking it here or there but not having to do the planning all over every year.  I am sure newer teachers who are dedicated spend a lot more time on planning as they are still figuring out what works.

I have been assigned a new class every year. Getting a course that is new to you off the ground each year adds a lot of work.  I'm also a GSA club sponsor and next year will be taking over Science UIL. 

 

My first year I taught just IPC. That was new to me. My second year I had IPC and on-level Chemistry. Then this year I have Chemistry and Forensics. Preparing lessons plans from scratch for a full year takes a lot of work. I am at school from 8 until at least 5:30 every day except Friday, when I am usually able to leave at 5pm. I have 1.5-2 hours of work to finish up at home every evening and spend 10-15 hours every weekend working on getting things ready for the next week. Remember that my lunch is only 30 minutes, not an hour. Although at least I have a duty-free lunch.

 

 

When I have 5-6 years under my belt and have taught all the subjects I'm teaching before, then it won't be as much work, but for somebody who is in the first five years or has a new subject, it really does take 60-70 hours. After that it goes down to 50-60 hours.

 

ETA: Forensics is completely new to me, so I have had to learn the material for each unit before I start it. At least I already knew chemistry and had been tutoring it recently. At this point, physics would require relearning because it has been several years. There's no telling what I will end up with next year. I asked to keep chemistry and forensics, because I really do like forensics also, but getting forensics this year was a surprise.  I could end up with biology or physics or a different level of chemistry or back to IPC or any mix. At my high school, we are required to be present from 8-4:30 every day and are required to have at least 2 one-hour tutorials before school and 2 one-hour tutorials after school as well as having a 1 hour before school PLC each week for each subject you teach. I don't like just lecturing and then throwing worksheets at my kids. I have a very interactive classroom, so it takes a ton of prep. Our conference periods and time before or after school is spent either in tutorials or meetings.

Edited by AngieW in Texas
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I know I am being difficult about this but an 8hr work/school day plus 3 hrs each work/school day is still only 55 hours- not 60+.

 

Although if you do any PD or work or prep over the summer, when you aren't getting paid, that needs to be tacked on as well.

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Although if you do any PD or work or prep over the summer, when you aren't getting paid, that needs to be tacked on as well.

And work over breaks and weekends. Yes, there are more of them, but they’re rarely free of work.

 

I loved teaching, but honestly, it wasn’t an easy job.

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