Thursday, October 07, 2010

Teacher Pay

I thought this article was going to talk about teacher pay across the country, but it focuses only on Illinois--and then recommends changes for the entire country! While I agree with most of the recommendations, this isn't the most intellectually honest way to promote them:

Illinois is broke. There is a great debate beginning in the state about public pensions. Teachers pensions are a part of that debate. An aside, another travesty in Illinois is public school administrators.
They make an average of $106,217 in salary, not including pensions and health benefits. In the final three years of their contracts, school districts jack up the administrator salaries to increase their pension benefits for life. Of course, there is hardly a check or balance on the behavior. The taxpayer gets stung.

Teachers also have a pretty good deal in Illinois. They are 100% unionized. The rent seeking teachers' union curries favor with the Democrats. Democrats at every level of government do whatever the union wants.

The average teacher in the state of Illinois makes $61,402. Illinois teachers work around 176 days, 300 minutes, or 5 hours, per day. That's just over 35 weeks per year. On average, they make $348.88 per day, $1.16 per minute, or $69.60 per hour guaranteed. Teachers in Illinois work an average of 12 years. They can retire at age 55.

In order to find out what they really make though, you should take their pension benefits, net present value them and amortize them over their career. As of 2010, the average pension for an Illinois teacher is $43,164. It compounds annually for life at 3% per year.

Now it's time to do some math and make some assumptions. Assume that the lifespan of the teacher is no different than the average American, 78 years. If they start teaching at age 22, on average they will quit at 34. This means they will wait 21 years to collect their pension. The discount rate for the cash flows is a conservative 5%.

When you crunch all the numbers, the net present value of that pension is $290,756. Amortizing that over a twelve year career adds $24,229.64 to their average salary, making their actual salary before health benefits are added in a tidy $85,631.67, or $97.31 per hour.

If you compare and extrapolate that number to the private sector, it is interesting. Assume that you work an 8 hour day, 50 weeks a year. $194,620 bucks a year is what you would make! Most private sector jobs at that level work a lot more than an 8 hour day. Recently, private sector employment has not been as lucrative as public sector employment. For the first time in American history, it pays to be in the public sector.


Then there's this little dig, which I really like:

However, our society really needs to rethink how we pay our teachers. In aggregate, our schools are not turning out a quality product. The country is falling behind. Our future is in danger. Unionization of education hasn't been good for great teachers, and it hasn't been good for America. It only helped the bad teachers.

The conclusions aren't radical, and they aren't anything you haven't heard proposed before. Some will still try to tell you, and with a straight face, that these changes would be like throwing teachers into the streets or something.


maxutils said...

Hello, Chicago!

High School Tchr said...

It depends on where teachers live and work. I teach in a non-unionized state where the salaries are nowhere near what they are in Illinois. Nor are the pensions or benefits. And my work days are more along the lines of 10-12 hour days.

So even a small change would be felt dramatically although I don't think it would make a homeless person of me. But what would happen, is those teachers whose incomes are "head of the household" would probably get out teaching for a career that pays better.

Mr. W said...

I've stream-lined my classroom so I take home little work, but really 5 hours a day? That's pushing it a bit.

The writers basically said that you work during your class and that's it. No conference period counted, no parent conferences, no helping students out of class, not counting what you take home and work on...nothing.

Like I said, I have stream-lined my class and I work more than that.

Anonymous said...

My wife teaches 6 lab classes a day. Each class is 55 minutes. Her prep for those classes adds another 3 hours to her day, every day. She also must grade all the lab reports and other assignments which occupies several more hours each night. Her weekends are spent sterilizing equipment and preparing labs. Usually another 8 hours spread over the weekend. She has been doing this for over 35 years in a parochial high school where there is little retirement and just social security to look forward to. Given the AP scores of her students each year and the number of students selected to attend ISEF each year, she must be doing something right. I can't begin to imagine the retirement she would have accumulated in those years in the public sector. BUT I know she wouldn't trade places either. But it does causes one to really get angry over the entitlement mentality of public school teachers. As Mr. Christie points out, "You knew what was happening going in, and you can always try a different career." Teaching is a vocation...when it becomes a job, I strongly suggest that someone look for a new career path. BTW, I am also in the same parochial high school and it is a diverse, blue collar community and the reason for our success is the attitude of the faculty. Most have advanced degrees and over 25 years of experience. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I agree with your conclusion that unions have really helped the bad teachers at the expense of our educational systems.