Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wonkitorial: Teacher Pay The C.E.O. Way

Hubert B. Herring over at The New York Times has come up with a.... novel way of comparing teacher compensation with that earned by C.E.O.s:
"A Teacher's Year, a C.E.O.'s Day: The Pay's Similar"

Enough already on how many millions this or that chief executive earns, how many stock options are tossed around to keep the Champagne flowing, the McMansion dusted, the Bentley polished.

As a little back-to-school thought, let’s shift gears to a group of workers who earn pennies in comparison but who, it could be argued, play at least as vital a role in society. It is teachers, after all, who try to make sure that those captains of industry have educated workers.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, the state with the highest average pay for teachers in 2003-04 was Connecticut, at $56,516; the lowest was South Dakota, at $33,236.

Or look at it this way: Pick a corporate chieftain — say, Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric. He earns $15.4 million a year. Every single day — including Thanksgiving and Christmas — he makes almost what the average teacher does for a year of taming wild children, staying up nights planning lessons, and, really, helping to shape a generation.
After five years with no pay increases or even "cost of living adjustments" (while out-of-pocket insurance costs have risen each year) many teachers in our district here in California's "Imperial" Valley now take home smaller paychecks than they did back in 2001.

Unlike the typical C.E.O., seniority rules often "punish" teachers who change districts with permanent reductions in both monthly salary and retirement pensions.

Teachers with more than five years (or so) experience who find themselves working in toxic or hostile work environments often feel "trapped" by the economics of the job and continue to work (unhappily) in those districts.

This lack of "work experience portability" is yet another reason why I can no longer advise a young person (who may have more than 30 years ahead of him or her) to devote their life's work to service in a public school classroom.
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