Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Teacher Pay

I teach in an upscale area and often joke about how poor I am (e.g., I drive the cheapest model car currently for sale in the US). Mostly it's just shtick--while not the wealthiest person on the planet (or even on my street), I'm quite satisfied with my financial lot in life. By the way, the hot tub should be here by Christmas :-)

Today a student asked how much I earn. After explaining that many people in our society consider that a very personal and therefore rude question to ask, I told him that since my pay (or at least my district's pay scale) is a matter of public record, I'd tell him--and I did. Some thought that seemed low, some thought it was high, some Goldilockses thought it was just right. A few asked what I thought of it. Not wanting to ruin my shtick at all I explained about hourly pay, saying that if I worked only my contractually-mandated hours I'd be making a certain number of dollars per hour; but when you factor in all the work teachers do outside of school, the pay per hour seems much more moderate.

Then I read this post over at the Edwonks,which begins ominously thusly:

Should a teacher with a mini fridge or coffee pot in his or her classroom be required to pay for the electricity that is used?
I liked one of the comments, and since it ties in with what I wrote above, I'll reproduce the comment here:

Sure, it's fair! As long as teachers can charge the school system for the time they spend outside school hours on lesson plans, grading papers, planning, reading professional literature, and other endeavors directed related to their jobs.

I have a refrigerator and a microwave in my classroom. They make it possible for me have lunch at my desk and work right through my 30-minute lunch period. I could do that half hour of work at home, though, and charge the school accordingly.

If teachers worked ONLY the hours they're paid to work, the entire educational system of the United States would fall apart. If teachers bought absolutely no materials or supplies with their own money, many classes would be lacking.

Teaching is among the most valuable professions in the world, but it is not among the most valued. Charging teachers for the use of electricity while doing their job is the height of absurdity.

So do you, the reader, want to know how much I make? Look here to see my district's pay scale. The raw numbers probably don't help because I don't have instant access to a site that will allow you to compare the pay to the cost of living, but at least you can see if you'd make more in *my* district ;-)


silvermine said...

Not to take away from your rant or anything, but how many people who are salaried are paid for all the work they relaly do? I'm expected to train myself and end up working nights and weekends, or staying late a whole darn lot. It's the joy of being salary. :P

On the other hand, they do pay me more. ;)

Darren said...

You thought this was a *rant*? Heck, I admitted being satisfied with my economic lot in life.

Carol said...

Hey - thanks for quoting my comment to the EdWonks post.

Gary said...

Greetings from the UK. Just stumbling around random blogs and thought I would say that I enjoyed the copied comment you posted. We have many similar attitudes to teachers here, and it was refreshing to read an amusing retort - my wife being a teacher I know all about the extra unpaid hours and costs involved.

Darren said...

Gary, come by any time. And happy late St. Andrew's Day :-)

Darren said...

Silvermine: Good that you recognize the difference in salary. Additionally, you can conceivably negotiate your own pay. If your company has a pay scale, that's their rule--it's not the law.

I'm going to get paid the same whether or not I work the extra hours. Same with all teachers. And there's no hope or even thought of reward. There's just a job done.