31 Mar

I Never, Ever Want to Hear That Teachers Are Underpaid Again.

Quite by accident, I came across a database listing teacher salaries and benefits for the metro Milwaukee area. The database allows you to enter any teacher or administrator’s last name, and see the value of their salary and benefits for the 2006-07 school year. This is all public information that is required to be made available by the Department of Public Instruction.

I know a few teachers in the area, and I knew they were well-paid. But I had no idea how much. For all of the teachers that I entered into the system, I came up with salaries in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 per year, and benefits in the range of $30,000 to 40,000 per year.

That means the teachers I know, who all have experience in the range of 5 to 15 years, are being compensated in the neighborhood of $80,000 to $110,000 for working part time.

Part time, you say? Yes, part time. That’s what a teacher’s job is… part time. Your average professional logs between 40 and 50 hours a week, for about 48 weeks a year (if you factor in holidays and vacation time). That’s about 1,920 to 2,400 working hours per year.

A teacher works 180 school days, plus I’ll give them another 10 days for meetings and conventions. (Although here, almost no one goes to conventions even though they’re theoretically mandatory.) The workday of a teacher is about 6 hours, even including “correcting papers” or other fluff that makes it sound like they work more. But 6 hours is a pretty generous estimate of the time actually spent working.

That means a teacher works 1,140 hours a year, which is only about 60% of the low end of other professionals, and about 48% of the high end for other professionals. So a teacher works about half as much as other professionals.

And in the Milwaukee area, they’re being compensated $80,000 to $100,000 for that part time job. I don’t ever want to hear again that teachers aren’t paid enough. That is outrageous compensation for what amounts to a part-time job.

41 thoughts on “I Never, Ever Want to Hear That Teachers Are Underpaid Again.

  1. I think that you have made a few miscalculations. first, as a teacher in racine I am required to be in the building, working, from 6:45am to 2:30pm five days a week. As a social studies teacher who teaches three different subjects every day, I use what time I have during the day to make copies and and prepare for the next subject. I then take grading HOME to do every night. I often spend another 3-4 hours after I go home grading before I switch over to lesson planning for the coming unit in each subject and reviewing the material I will be teaching the next day. I usually leave the school building after 3pm and once home work until 9 or 10pm. I don’t know how many hours I put in total, but my guess that it is well over 6 hours every day. Did I mention that I continue to work on Saturday and Sundays. In addition to the classroom responsibilities, I often work other school events. And even though I don’t have to go into the school building, I and many of my co-workers work during the summer preparing for the next school year. This is especially true when a new textbook has been adopted and lesson plans have to be re-written. There is also the working conditions to consider. In my district money is tight and so my classroom is cleaned every other day, which means that if my room was cleaned on Thursday it sits dirty over the weekend. Cleaning also means that my garbage is emptied and floor slept. Desks and chalkboards are not cleaned. There is also an effort to control energy costs, so the temperature is kept cool in winter and the air conditioning is not turned on until late May at the earliest. I would bet that in whatever office you work in your work area is cleaned daily and that you have climate control in your workspace. Don’t even get me started on the bathrooms… Are you aware that many teachers now work in school buildings in which there is gang violence, in which a portion of the population that has no regard or respect for one another or authority, and in which there is alcohol and drug activity? Do you have these issues in your workplace? Teachers are required to continue their educations in order to move up the district’s pay schedule and to maintain their teaching license. What other profession requires employees to earn additional credits in this manner? Keep in mind that these credits must be graduate level until we earn a masters and then we are given the option of graduate or undergraduate credits. We pay for these credits ourselves. Every five years we have to renew our licenses with the state and pay a fee for this. Please keep this in mind the next time you think that teachers are underpaid.

  2. I don’t think they’re underpaid. I think they’re grossly overpaid!

    You teach three whole classes? Wow! Plenty of time left over for planning and correcting and such. Even if I believed you work 8 hours a day, you’re still only working a part time job compared to other professionals via your 180 day schedule. This “correcting papers” and “making lesson plans” stuff is generally inflated to make the working hours seem longer. Many teachers don’t even do lesson plans, and those who have them typically reuse them from year-to-year.

    Essentially all the things you cited about your job are realities at real jobs. There are budgets and cutbacks and things like that. There are dangerous customers/clients and questionable situations (that’s the reality of immoral society today).

    As for continuing education, yes, many, many professions require it. And we don’t get raises when we meet this requirement. Plenty of other professions require licensing as well, and the employees typically pay for this themselves.

    Any financial hardship in school budgets can be directly traced to the overpayment of staff. So if your room is too warm or not clean enough, I suggest the teachers union agree to a reasonable level of pay and benefits. Then there will be plenty of money left for upkeep of the schools.

  3. Both of you are correct.

    Teachers are both overpaid and underpaid. There are very lazy teachers who put in the bare minimum each week and get paid the same as those teachers who put in over 50+ hours a week. Someone very close to me easily pulls 10 hour weeks. They are at school from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM virtually everyday. And then when they are home, more time is spent preparing lesson plans and doing research for good material to teach the students.

    You see, there are a few teachers that go “above and beyond” and do much more than the state requires them to. And it shows too. This individual’s students regularly outrank all the other teachers in the school at that same grade and are near the top in the county in particular test scores and yearly improvements. This particular teacher is far underpaid for what they put in.

    At the same time, I know some teachers that do the bare minimum. They get to school 2 minutes before school starts, and leave at the soonest moment they can which I believe is 15 minutes after the students leave. Their students show horrible improvements over the year and guess what, the teacher gets paid the same as the other teacher who went above and beyond.

    This is why I think the Public School System is a total failure. The schools get so much money they don’t know what to do with it. The money is simply mismanaged.

    My biggest qualm with the school system is the fact they artificially created a teacher shortage. They passed a rule where the classroom size must be reduced. Anyone with half a brain can see that this creates a higher demand for more teachers and schools. If schools wanted to manage the money better, they could have let the classroom size be 30 to 35 and hired a teacher aide for each teacher. This would have been cheaper than reducing the classroom size to 18 and hiring 5 more teachers… You can get 2 or 3 teacher aides for every 1 teacher…

    (BTW, in all of this I was mainly talking about Elementary School)

  4. I agree with Term on this one. I have friends and family who work in a few differant schools all over the country. And I myself was a preschool teacher for 6 1/2 years (talk about underpaid). Each one of my friends and family members who is in a school has something differant to say. The main thing is they don’t get paid enough for what they do and I agree. Unlike the Milwaukee area these teachers are getting around $35,000.00 – $40,000.00 MAX and are required to write new lesson plans every year regardless of weather or not things have changed with the text books. I found this to be true at the preschool I worked for also. However I was not required to be as indepth as the public school and I was only planning for 18-24 month olds (yes lesson plans are done for that age). School systems have started eiminating teacher aids because of the cost of having to hire more teacher. They could have kept the 30-35 kids per class and brought in an aid (like Term said). If each class has an aid (or every 2 classes) they would get just as much respect as the teacher would because they would be a constant in the class rooms making things a little easier ofn the teacher.

    I would also like to clarify something you missunderstood. jeanne schierstedt said ” As a social studies teacher who teaches three different subjects every day”. She did not say she teaches only 3 classes she teaches 3 differant subjects threw the day. That to me would be more stressful because she has to plan for 3 differant subjects not just social studies. She has my respect for what she does and I say thank you to her for sticking threw it.

    Yes there are many teachers out there who do not deserve the money they are getting but there are a few that deserve a bit more. Most of the teachers I know leave the house by 7 am and do not return home till after 6 pm. this has nothing to do with a long drive to work it has to do the extra work that many teacher aids helped out with in the past. It also has to do with the political side of teaching where they are required to do their lesson plans a specific way so every class is being tought the say way at the same pace. What happend to teacher individualty?? It does not exist any more.

  5. You’ll have to ask teachers unions where individuality went. The union keeps the system exactly like it is, because there is so much money to be made. They have no incentive to improve or change anything.

    And those $35-$40k teachers (who also have handsome benefit packages in addition) are still making an excellent salary for part-time work!

  6. Tracy, unfortunately I have to side with Term and Barbara on these points. I’m not sure jeanne did a great job of defending herself, but she is the only teacher represented in this conversation.

    I’m actually pursuing a teaching career myself, taking a 50% pay cut for what I’m hearing (and seeing as I shadow existing teachers) 20% reduction in working hours. Yes, there is a reduction in hours because of the summers. What each teacher does with those hours makes or breaks their classrooms the next school year.

    I would *love* to see how they’re accounting for all those “benefits.” I wonder if they’re counting those summer days as “paid.” After comparing the health/dental/vision packages with my current coverage, there is literally _no_ difference. The retirement package isn’t matched as well as my rich private company. Pension??? Hah! The company I work for now doesn’t disclose the value of our “other compensation,” so I can’t even compare the totals.

    I do agree with you, Tracy, that teaching is only as treacherous as walking down the streets of Detroit (at day). And, you trade one type of political climate for another. We all have to deal with sucky people and stupid rules.

    I don’t agree, though, that all professions require professional development at cost to the employee. My employer pays for continuing education! I sat in on one of the teacher education days at my sons’ school — what a joke! Heck, *I* was the one who showed them how to create the PowerPoint presentations they were supposed to learn! Sad!!

    You’d think with all these benefits I get from my current employer that I’d be happy. Nope. I crave the classroom, and so I will have the benefit of 9-month working years, and suck up the pay cut.

  7. The value of the benefits is actual dollar value to the teachers. It includes health, dental, sick pay (which can be accumulated into infinity and later cashed out for $$$), massive pensions, massive post-retirement health benefits. Believe me: The $35k a year is actual value received by these teachers.

    While I do believe that some teachers put more time and effort into their job (and therefore probably merit this level of pay), most do not. And the teachers unions are the ones that encourage low performance on the part of teachers. There is no incentive to excel at the job of teaching.

    In fact, whenever there are proposals to link pay to performance, they are shot down in a heartbeat. A common gripe is that teachers shouldn’t be responsible for their students’ learning. Really? Why is any professional responsible for any performance in any business? After all, a salesperson shouldn’t be responsible for the customers’ buying, should they?

    Of course they should. Just as teachers should be responsible for what goes on in their classroom. And while teaching may be more challenging than it used to be because of parents who don’t care and poor home lives, there still needs to be some accountability.

    So there’s my 2 cents. And I do appreciate yours too. 🙂

  8. I’d like to clear up a couple of things. First, I teach 3 subjects, not three classes. I teach five classes, have one period to do grading and prep work, man a study hall and get a lunch, but with the needs of my students, I often don’t really get lunch. I also put in a LOT of time after school with my students helping them prepare. For, example, I just arrived home. It is currently 5:01 according to the clock on my computer. I left for work at about 6:15 this morning. I live only 10 minutes from work. I don’t think that my 10.75 hour day is the norm among teachers, nor is it the norm in other fields either. Second, no one is talking about the other extras that teachers are held responsible for doing, such as teaching kids manners, how to behave in social situations, how to dress appropriately for job interviews, how to speak clearly and without swearing, and the list goes on and on. When a student does well, the accomplishment is attributed to the student and their family. If a student is struggling or doing poorly, the accomplishment is attributed to the teacher. I can present the same information in several different ways with varying results among my students. I spend much more time working with the struggling student that the one that excels because that is the student who needs the help the most, yet I am blamed for the failure of the student. The blame is not attributed to the student who did not study for a test even though they had a study guide to help them prepare. The blame is not attributed to the parent who does not follow up when letters and calls are made informing them that their child is not passing and needs extra help. The blame is not attributed to the culture they are immersed in, which in some instances sees no value in education, or finds more value in activities that are non-academic. How will my performance be judged? On my pass-fail ratio, on the amount of time I spend working with my students one-on-one? Who will judge my success?

    By the way, I am curious to know what your job is and how much you get paid. As my salary is public record and you know what I do for a living, why not share the same details about yourself. Perhaps, you are worried that I will discover that you only work a couple of hours a day blogging and spend the rest of the day watching T.V., while you make $100,000 yearly. Everything is relative. What you believe is too much for one person, may not be once you know all the facts about that individual’s living situation.

  9. Start paying my salary, as I do yours, and I’ll be happy to tell you how much I make! Fear not – I work year round, a minimum of 50 to 60 hours per week, often more. And I actually am held accountable by my clients who don’t pay me unless I earn my money.

    I vote that we judge your performance on whether or not the children you teach have learned. If they can read, write, and do math at an appropriate level, you pass. If not, you fail. If you actually put in the time you say you do with productive work that advances the learning objectives for your students, congratulations and thank you.

  10. Tracy. I would like to trade places with you. It seems easy to outsiders. No one is ever pleased with your work. You get very few raises in Texas where I work. In fact, my pay is so low that I am eligible for food stamps with 2 years of experience. I get paid $31,000 a year with 2 years of teaching experience in Texas. I was making close to $45,000 a year in the printing industry before they outsourced the work to India. With a Master of Science degree in mathematics, I would still easily be making more money in any other profession and would be able to leave my work behind when I go home. There are countless meetings, calls to parents after hours, and events as class sponsors after hours throughout the school year that leaves you completely and utterly exhausted at the end of the day. Did I forget to mention that you receive no additional pay for these extra activities? This Summer I have had to read science books to prepare for an additional certification exam for science in spite of the fact that I have a degree in physics with a graduate minor in physics. During the school year, you cannot take off without putting in twice as long prepping for substitutes. Many of the students don’t want to be at school and have bad attitudes towards learning in general. I had 5 different preps including geometry, physics, precalculus, algebra 2, and math models. Next year, we will have to teach 7 class periods with 1 period for conferences. If someone offers me another job, I am thinking seriously about taking it. I wish that I had an easy job like yours more than likely is!!! It is people with your attitude that makes it hard for some of us to feed our families. I had an a 4.0 average in graduate school and a 3.78 as an undergraduate.

  11. I don’t feel sorry for you. If you don’t like the job or the pay, get a different one. If you have to spend lots of time preparing for this test, you obviously don’t know as much science as you suggest you do.

    I doubt you’d be willing to work the hours that I do.

    🙂

  12. Tracy.

    I kind of wonder what you do as well. I wonder if you are ashamed of what you do. Why all the secrecy? In any event, teaching is a 2 way street. It is too bad teachers can’t hold the families and students accountable for their lack of effort when it comes to learning. Many countries send students who don’t want to learn on to menial jobs or to learn a trade.

    Have a great day!

    Maurice.

    P.S. I will probably leave the profession. Everyone believes that teachers are overpaid when they have to deal with bad attitudes from many people like yourself. I can’t afford dental insurance or to go to the doctor or even to get my eyes checked because of people like yourself. The benefits are pathetic!!!

  13. And we wonder why our students are failing to learn? We have teachers like this. Maurice is on a website that is dedicated to “what I do” and there is even a little paragraph at the top of this page discussing what I do. Yet he thinks it’s a big secret.

  14. Never mind. I know why you are so out of touch.

    You are a forensic accountant and fraud examiner who investigates white collar crimes, including cases of financial statement fraud, embezzlement, tax fraud, and insurance fraud. You are an author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud and more than 100 articles on fraud featured in industry publications.

    Obviously, you do not have the time to make any friends who are teachers, or you could see how hard we work.

    I am tempted to find out how much you make which I could probably do in another 30 minutes.

    Teachers should have privacy as to how much they make as well. I told you only because I wanted you to know how bad it is. You would not be where you are if it were not for others who taught or mentored you in some way.

  15. I’m not discounting the work of teachers, just tired of them crying about their pay and their jobs. Love it or leave it. I feel that way about any profession. If you don’t like your job, get a different one.

    Good luck finding out how much I make. Please report back as soon as you think you know.

  16. You are a wonderful critic. I only read your messages. I did not get around to reading why you feel so self important until later.

  17. LOL – Accuse first (you’re being secretive!), read later. Still a wonderful example of why our children are suffering in school.

  18. One last comment, I work as hard as you do. In any event, I am only teaching physics as a science teacher. I know quite a bit of science. I will pass the test. It covers physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, and astronomy. I went to regionals in science every year in three out of four years in high school, and I received the award for being at the top of the school of science and mathematics for the year that I graduated. If it makes you feel great to insult and belittle people, go ahead.

  19. Good luck on your tests Maurice! Isn’t it amazing how little people want to pay and credit the very people who TAUGHT them what they know and prepared them to earn the living that they now do. Ironic, the people who prepare the rest of the world for the jobs they one day hold, earn less than those they have “trained” and it the people who make the most monetarily who complain the most. Wouldn’t it be great if all people were paid according to the importance of their job to society? Then, finally, teachers would be at the top of the pay scale instead of the bottom. Unfortunately, utopia does not exist, until then, we will just have to continue to do what we do and tune out those who do not understand our contribution to society and whose self-importance has made them ignorant. I wonder which of her teachers Tracy will attribute this quality to and which teacher(s) she has thanked for helping her learn what she needs to know to make the living she does? Although, as she is a self-made woman, she probably had no teachers and taught herself everything she knows. Wow! She really is bright and all knowing.

  20. Little? You think $100k a year for a part time job is little? That’s exactly the point of this post. It is far too much!!! I did not say that teachers must be paid little, but $100k is far more than most of these teachers are worth. We have one of the worst school systems in the country but pay these teachers huge sums of money. We’re definitely not getting our money’s worth.

  21. Tracey, what are you so angry about? Did you try to be a teacher once and couldn’t cut it? Your words and attitude towards teachers is toxic and hopefully you don’t have kids that might inherit your negativity.
    From what are you basing your opinion about most teachers not putting in extra time and effort? Have you ever worked at a school? Of course not, or you would know that MOST teachers put in extra time, effort and money and are dedicated to their jobs and children they teach. Of course there are some who do the minimum, but that’s true anywhere.
    I taught for 12 years before deciding to stay home with my kids and I never complained about my salary. However, the atmosphere of most public schools is set up so that teachers have to fight for everything they get. They have to negotiate for everything from bathroom breaks to climate control in their classrooms. When we have to deal with attitudes like yours in our communities it’s destracting from our main objective….teaching the children. How would you like to be in a state of CONSTANT defense of what you do for a living??? Most of us got into teaching b/c we wanted to TEACH. If you’ve heard teachers complaining it’s b/c we have to defend attitudes like yours everyday. It would wear on anyone.
    Part time?? That’s laughable! Are you saying that b/c 180 is about 1/2 of 365? Well, that includes weekends so full time is not working 365 days a year. With weekends and vacation time full time is a lot less than 365. As for hours…the school day is usually about 6 1/2 hrs and most school require the teachers to be at school earlier than start time and after end time. Most teachers I worked with were in earlier and left later than required times. I can’t imagine how an elementary teacher could get all of the work and prep required without working AT LEAST 40 hrs. per week.
    Here’s the thing, STOP COMPARING TEACHERS TO THOSE IN CORP AMERICA! It’s like apples and oranges. Teachers are not making anyone money so they will never be appreciated for what they are really worth b/c that is the unfortunate bottom line in our society. A school district’s main objective at all times is to save money and spend less. Unless you’ve worked under those circumstances for a long period of time you can’t understand what it can do to morale.
    Find some good teachers and hold them up instead of looking for reasons to tear them down. You hold and speak of a lot of common misconceptions of the teaching profession. Walk a mile in their shoes, Tracy, and reserve your harsh judgement for when you do….

  22. Yes, Caren, how DARE teachers have to defend themselves for receiving $100k for doing a part time job. And the math about the part-time aspect was all there – no wonder our kids are failing when simple math is beyond our teachers! When you look at actual days at work and actual time working (that doesn’t include lunch or gossip time) the job of a teacher is 1/2 to 2/3 of a real job. It’s all laid out above… tell me you comprehend the math!

    School districts like MPS have been showered with money for years, yet the teachers refuse to be accountable for whether or not the children learn. Of COURSE you don’t want teachers compared to real jobs, because if the teachers were actually paid and retained based upon performance, more than 1/2 of them would find themselves without jobs.

    The bottom line of this article is simple: MPS should not be paying $80k to $110k a year for these part time employees. They don’t earn that money. It is these inflated salaries and benefits that are the direct cause of financial troubles in MPS. If the teachers have to “fight” for anything else, it’s because too much money is being spent on salaries and benefits.

  23. Ah Tracy. Allow me to introduce you to some important terms. Administration, Central office staff, principal, business administration, all of these titles, which are listed as earning over 100K are all FULL TIME positions within a district. Also, if you look closer you will see that these positions are all over the state of WI. There are NO teachers listed in the over 100K so stop griping and get a grip!

  24. Yeah, I get your math. Problem is it’s not “simple”, it’s twisted. You can play with any numbers that way and figure out a way to prove your point. You do not break down the hours worked equally. You figure hours weekly for the average person and daily for teachers. If you’re going to do a true comparison you need to use the same formula.
    You said the salaries were 50,000-70,000. Suddenly, the teachers are now “recieving $100K”. If you ask my husband, who works in corp America, what his salary is he’ll tell you what he makes annually. He, or anyone else, wouldn’t include what he is compensated for in benefits! That’s just ridiculous and so is the rest of your argument. Hours…. the kids are in school for 6 1/2 hours and teachers are required to work longer hours than the kids are present so how do you figure 6 hour day???? When you or anyone else counts the hours you work in a week, do you include lunch and “gossip time”??????????? You can’t be for real.
    Before I left teaching I was making $60,000 a year after 12 years. Like I said, I always felt well compensated, but I was hardly “overpayed” for 12 years of hardwork and dedication in my FULL TIME job. My mother, who cared for my children from 7:30 to 4:30/5:00 while I was working would really get a kick out of your “part time” theory. If the job really was part time I would still be able to do it and manage my household and four children.
    You still have not indicated where you get your facts(?) about inadequate teachers. Are there not more kids going to college than ever in history? The education my kids are getting is highly superior to the one I got. Whose kids are failing simple math, not mine or many I know. What did you do, read a newpaper article about how kids today can’t read and get all fired up? If you LOOK you’ll find just as many saying performance in education is at an all time high. You know a few teachers…so…does that make you an expert in how much and how hard teachers work? “More than 1/2 of them”, are you kidding? “They don’t earn it”?? How are you qualified to make that judgment? Why don’t you give us the detailed breakdown of your salary/hours/benefits/perks/gossip time and we’ll let you know if we deem you worthy of the money you make. As citizens and consumers, technically we all pay each other’s salaries, so fair is fair….
    Do us all a favor and do some real in the trenches research before you start speaking about something you know very little about and creating nonsensical math problems to prove your nonsensical point.
    By the way, you may want to look into where the money that is being pumped into MPS is truly going. Hint: start with the administration…

  25. Jeanne – Apparently you haven’t looked at the teachers I know. $80k to $110k salaries and benefits for teachers I looked up.

  26. Caren – Yes, professionals do look at salaries and benefits packages when assessing their compensation. And it’s no secret that the benefits packages received by MPS teachers are way too high.

    I’m sorry you don’t understand how I’ve calculated the part-time status of the teachers. They work 180 days a year, plus a few extra days for conferences, minus the days they don’t show up. I do stand by my estimate of 6 hours of working time each day, as teachers get “lunch” and “prep” and gossip time.

    No, Caren, I don’t get paid for gossip time. And when you decide to pay my salary, as I do with the teachers, then you have a right to know how much I make. Until then, my earnings will be between me, my clients, and the IRS.

    And I agree with you: Tons of money is being wasted on administration costs.

  27. Ok Tracy, which ‘teachers are you looking at? I had your link above bring up everyone who earned 100k+ and none of them were teachers. so who are you looking at?

  28. Caren-
    it isn’t worth arguing with her. She obviously isn’t sharing her salary with us because she A) realizes how OVER paid she is and is now embarrassed by her salary, or B) is jealous because she is actually making less than the poor lowly teacher is 🙁 poor Tracy. You and I and every other teacher in America and elsewhere in the World knows how wrong and misguided this poor woman is in her spiteful rantings, the only reason I keep coming back is that it does provide something of a chuckle to see someone so engrossed in their own self-worth who is obsessed with those of us she considers bottom of the barrel and not worth a dime. If you haven’t checked out her link above, do so and see if you can find the 100K teachers she is talking about, I only see administrators and other district personnel who are NEVER in a classroom.

  29. Jeanne – Your intellectual skills are amazing. Yet another example of the poor skills of our teachers. Read the article I wrote. It references salary and benefits in excess of $100,000. The search you are doing in the database is just for salaries of $100,000 or more.

    I’m not releasing my earnings because you don’t pay my salary. Taxpayers DO pay a teacher’s salary, and therefore someone has decided that we have a right to see what they’re making.

    In your world, it is apparently not okay to have a differing opinion. I live in a different world – one in which people can disagree. An MPS teacher’s compensation of $100k+ has nothing to do with anyone being lowly. It’s just a matter of my opinion, which is that most of them are not worth that much.

    As for other teachers who are paid less than MPS teachers, I see them having one of three choices if they are true professionals:
    1. Teach because they are committed to it even if they feel underpaid.
    2. Find a different job if they believe their skills are worth more.
    3. Get higher compensation in return for working all year long. No more summers off. (Summers off, by the way, are what make teaching a part-time job compared to other professional jobs.)

    I’m not discounting the work of teachers, just saying that the job is what it is, love it or leave it. In MPS, the teachers are overpaid, in my opinion.

  30. I actually encourage my students to have opinions of their own and to think for themselves. Thanks for your concern. Differing opinions help create the nation that we live in today and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. What I don’t understand is what it is that you think teachers deserve if they are overpaid as you say and why you seem to not be open to the opinions of the many others who have voiced a difference of opinion. I have little respect for people who have not done what I do and criticize it and belittle it. You say that teachers are important, but then why are they overpaid. Who’s is to decide what constitutes overpaid? You? sure, you’re correct, you are a member of the tax-paying society that does pay the salary of the teachers in the district in which you live. My challenge to you is this, if you truly feel that MKE teachers are overpaid, perhaps you should become involved in the district, run for a position on the school board, volunteer your time at a high school or better yet, substitute in a school in MKE and then decided if teachers are truly taking advantage of your hard earned dollars with their salaries and benefits. Do you really believe that teachers shouldn’t be allowed to have competitive wages or affordable insurance? If your insurance coverage is not what you want, you as an individual employee can re-negotiate that as part of your salary and benefits, why shouldn’t teachers have that same option? The salary and benefits that a district pay is strongly related to the type of teacher that a district attracts. teachers receive salary increases based on the number of years they work and the number of credits they earn, as we’ve discussed before. But what we haven’t discussed are the contracts themselves. When I began teaching the district that hired me was 4 years behind in contracts. Teachers cannot strike in the state of WI to bring attention to the fact that they are not receiving the materials or compensation they deserve. I began teaching in the fall of 2000 at the salary and benefit level of the 96-97 contract. It wasn’t until 2004 that we were actually working under a current contract. So, even though we should receive raises based on our years of service and credits earned we weren’t because we didn’t have a current contract. It is not unusual for this to happen. In IL teachers have the option to go and strike and we often hear about that happening at the beginning of the school year. This action ensures that those teachers receive what they need. Do you work without a contract or just compensation? I would guess the answer is no. Why should teachers have to? Again you bring up the whole summers off thing. I will begin teaching from a new textbook in the fall and so I am already reading that book to prepare for the fall. If I truly didn’t work during the summer then I would wait until September 1 to begin that work. Also, just so you know, most of the teachers that I know and work with do have summer jobs doing anything from painting houses to working at golf courses to working retail to you name it. I would bet that if you knew anyone personally in this profession you’d not be so quick to judge. My uncle used to think the same thing until I arrived at his home for a summer holiday loaded with materials to plan. He still thinks I could ‘do so much more’ with my brains, but he no longer looks down on teachers. He, by the way, is a lawyer making a good salary, who in a moment of thoughtlessness once commented on teacher pay and then realized that I wasn’t at whatever occasion because my salary didn’t allow me the luxury of attending. Never again has he belittled the salary or importance of the teacher. I wish you the same good fortune.

  31. Jeanne – The salary and benefits are obviously not related to the types of teachers attracted. MPS overpays and the teachers under-deliver.

    I pay for my own salary and benefits, as I am self-employed. So no, there is no begging for higher pay or benefits. I have no contract. If I work, I make money. If I don’t work, I don’t. I earn the money that goes into my retirement account. I don’t have the taxpayers putting money in it for me. I am completely self-sufficient.

    The whole issue with contracts and unions doesn’t bother me at all. Teachers want their unions, so they have to deal with the consequences. You may not have had a contract, but you got paid.

  32. “In your world, it is apparently not okay to have a differing opinion. I live in a different world – one in which people can disagree. An MPS teacher’s compensation of $100k+ has nothing to do with anyone being lowly. It’s just a matter of my opinion, which is that most of them are not worth that much. ”

    In my world lowly=not worth that much

    I don’t know if you have children, but if you do/did what would the teacher you entrusted them to be worth? You say you know a few teachers so you must be speaking of them b/c they are the only ones you could be basing your opinions on. Do they know you think that little of them?
    The thing is Tracy, you speak as though everything you type is factual. All of your calculations, etc don’t prove anything but you act as though they do. What you are expressing is much more than an opinion, it’s a streamful of misconceptions and we (of course, as teachers) are just trying to educate you!

  33. Again, it’s not that I don’t understand your math, it’s that you don’t understand how it should be done. The two formulas must be the same in order for the comparison to be accurate. You must either calculate the weeks (not days) worked by teachers to compare weeks worked by other professionals, or calculate BOTH by days worked. The comparison is not accurate if you calculate teachers days and others by weeks.

    Professional personally assess their own benefits when choosing a job/career, but if a professional person lists or makes known his/her salary, they don’t say “I make $120,000” if they make 100K and have benefits equal to $20. What you’re doing is picking it apart to suit your argument. Claiming that teachers are making 100K is laughable. Most districts have a cap well below that.
    If a professional works an 8 hr day but takes time to eat lunch at some point of the day, or stops to take a call or two from friends or family (something teachers are unable to do by the way) would you say they only work 6 1/2 hrs a day? Probably not because then you would have to adjust your orignal 40-50 hr per week estimate which assumes all professionals, except teachers, have their heads down working with no time for lunch or socializing all day. But you are so quick to point out any and all time in the day that a teacher is not standing in front of a classroom of students.
    Ok, so now you don’t count prep time as work? If a business woman spends a few hours in the afternoon preparing for a presentation, is that not work?
    So you tell your clients how much you make annually? I doubt it.
    No, they know how much THEY are paying you (just like you know how much of your taxes go to education). And by the way, you don’t DECIDE to pay a teacher’s salary. Is that why you’re so angry?
    I entrust my children to the public school system. I’m not always thrilled with every teacher, but there is nowhere I would rather spend my money than on my kids and their education. I wouldn’t want my kids attending a bargain basement school where the teachers are making what you’d have them make.

  34. Caren – Again you’re showing a lack of understanding and skill. Yes, it is possible to calculate with days and weeks and have the numbers be comparable, which is exactly what I’ve done. You weren’t a math teacher, I hope?

    I’m not picking the pay apart at all. The teachers in MPS make an unusually high amount via their benefits. It is part of their pay package and that’s what I’m looking at. When I analyze my own pay, I look at the total package, so that’s what I’m doing here.

    No, I don’t count lunch time or gossip time as work. I only count prep time as work if the teacher is actually working during that time. I don’t count lunch time or gossip time as work time for ANYONE in any profession.

    And you’re right. I don’t get to decide the pay of teachers. If I did, the teachers at MPS would get a BIG FAT PAY CUT unless they could prove they earned their salary and benefits.

  35. Caren – “Not worth that much” = “not worth $100k”. Don’t try to mischaracterize what I’ve said.

  36. What job is worth $100K to you? Is yours?
    You still haven’t explained why you remove time in your calculations from a teacher’s work day for lunch, prep and gossip, but not from the other professionals. The truth is you can’t explain it b/c you’ve done it to make your point fit. You have exagerated and generalized about people and a job you don’t know anything about. The truth is that even though your time estimates are fabricated, it’s not about time but the value of the job done.
    You are self employed which is your choice. You have to pay out of pocket for your benefits, but that’s a price you pay for the benefits that go along with being self employed.
    The bottom line is that you are insulting and uninformed. You have no real knowledge of what a teacher’s job requires, which you’ve proven from your very first entry.
    I didn’t say decide WHAT to pay teachers, but that you don’t decide to pay them at all. You don’t have a choice. Somebody decided that you are able to view a teacher’s salary, but that does not mean it’s appropriate and it does not mean that you can sit in judgment over who deserves what. Same thing with your salary.,,,it’s not appropriate for you to tell us what you make or for us to decide, having never done that job, how hard you work and/or whether or not you earn your current salary. I wouldn’t pretend to know how difficult or time consuming your job is. As someone who has been a teacher for 12 years I find your statements about what my colleagues and I did on a daily basis to be presumptuous,
    You have a right to your opinions, but again, you are trying to disguise your opinions as facts. You are very quick to impugn the intelligence of others. Go get informed, Tracy, your insecurities are showing.
    I know a lot of teachers, but no rich ones. Teachers aren’t getting away with anything. They are not laughing all the way to the bank with your money. Your bitterness and jealousy has blinded you. I hope that one day you find a carreer that makes you happy enough to be concerned with you and yours, rather than spending your time (off the clock, of course) filled with discernment and misconceptions of others.

  37. Wrong again, Caren. I did factor in lunches and breaks and such, from the work hours of other professionals. If you don’t know professionals who work 40 to 60 hours a week, exclusive of breaks and lunches, then you’re even more out of touch with reality than I thought.

    I absolutely am allowed to form an opinion about a teacher’s pay, and it is absolutely appropriate that I know how much they are paid. My taxes are not optional. I am forced to pay them whether I want to or not. On the other hand, those who use my services can choose to or not choose to. They have choice in the matter, and they can ask me any questions they want. (They could easily ask me how much I’m paid and factor my answer into whether or not they want to use my services.)

    I’m not opposed to teachers getting paid, as you’re trying to portray things. I’m opposed to excessive salaries and benefits paid by MPS.

    I don’t know if teachers live extravagant lives or not. I don’t care if they do or not.

    What I care about is that $100k in salary and benefits for a less-than-full-time (that would be part-time) job is ridiculous for most of the teachers.

    And thanks for your concern about my career. I am, in fact, quite happy with the career that I’ve chosen. And my job allows me to write about things that interest me… in this case, waste and misuse of my tax dollars. (And yes, writing here is unpaid and therefore “off the clock”.)

  38. You picked apart every little nose wipe in a teacher’s day but didn’t mention a word about lunches and breaks of professionals until now. Then , of course, you cover it with an insult.
    Again, Tracy, get informed. You certainly have a right to form an opinion, but if you’re going to act above us in the intelligence department you should make it an informed one. Go out and actually see how many hours a teacher works. You’ll see you’re wrong. I wish I was still working. I’d invite you to shadow me for a few days to see if you could keep up. Besides the long hours, there was the physical and emotional strain of working in an elementary classroom in this day and age. It’s actually a JOB AND A HALF since many of us need and are expected to be social workers as well as teachers. I think I’ll write to the MPS and suggest they give their time-and-a-half teachers a raise!
    By the way….if your client asked you how much you make in a year you would tell them? Doubt it.

  39. Caren – That game of “gotcha” you’re trying to play isn’t going too well. I didn’t mention the breaks and lunches because I excluded them from my calculation of work hours for both teachers and professionals.

    As for a client asking me what I make – I may or may not tell them, but then they’re free to use my answer in their decision about whether or not to use me for their project. See, it’s all about choices. I have no choice when it comes to MPS. My clients have all the choices in the world and can make them accordingly.

    But here’s the biggest difference between me and MPS teachers: Value. My clients would all say that they got more than their money’s worth from me, and that’s what matters when they’re spending their money. I don’t know of any many non-MPS people who would say that $100k for MPS teachers is a good value when the students are failing on such a wide scale.

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