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July 18, 2007

Do Teachers Have it Easy?


Image Source: http://www.mvdaily.com/articles/2003/01/teaching.gif

Dear Colleagues,

As I sit here, waiting for the negotiations between teachers and the state to avoid striking, and pondering recent articles about how teachers are "overpaid," I wonder if this article from 2003 is still, or ever was, applicable . . .

Excerpt from "Do teachers have it easy?" by Gordon T. Anderson of CNN Money.com:

It's summertime, and the living is easy, especially if you're a schoolteacher.

Most people will find that statement either obvious or obnoxious. Those in the "well, duh" camp might note that teachers get the longest vacations of any workers in America.

Others may be offended, or at least provoked, by the suggestion that an educator's life is carefree.

Teachers . . .

. . . work hard, after all, and the pay ranges from skimpy to merely adequate. What about that long summer break? You take it if you're lucky – many teachers must take second jobs to fill in the financial gaps.

So the debate is joined, now pick your side: Do teachers have it easy?
Low salary, short hours, or neither?

"It's an article of faith among many supporters of public education that teachers are underpaid," Ohio University economist Richard Vedder writes in a recent issue of Education Next, a policy journal affiliated with Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Vedder has stirred controversy in educational circles because of his conclusion "that teachers are not underpaid relative to other professionals."

Unions challenge that. The American Federation of Teachers recently released a survey of teaching salaries across the nation, showing that the average teacher makes $44,367 a year. In contrast, according to the AFT, a mid-level accountant makes $54,503 and a computer systems analyst averages $74,534.

Vedder's research tells a different story. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he found that on an hourly basis, teachers actually earn more than accountants, computer programmers, and even mechanical engineers.

Moreover, teachers' contracts often contain economic incentives not measured by straightforward salary surveys.

In California, teachers can get discounted mortgages and car loans, and tuition reimbursement. In Missouri, they can retire at age 55 with a pension paying 84 percent of the last year's income, plus benefits and cost-of-living adjustments.

The average public-school teacher receives fringe benefits equaling 26 percent of his or her salary, according to Vedder, versus about 17 percent in the private sector.

Two jobs better than one

A few years ago (OK, it was 20), a student at Verona High School shirked classroom instruction by pestering his teachers about their lives out of school. What did they do with their time off?

A few, like a history teacher whose spouse was an executive at Citibank, traveled to far-off lands. Others had . . .

Click HERE to read the rest of Anderson's article at the CNN site. It seems that his comment box is no longer operational for that article so, please feel free to comment here!

See you when I see you,

Lee

Posted by lhobbs at July 18, 2007 03:47 PM

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