The Average Teacher in Wisconsin Has a Smaller Salary Than the Median Wisconsin Household.

I didn’t believe it at first either, but digging into the data showed otherwise.

Let’s back up.   When you do these statistics you have to do them carefully, because you have to compare the total compensation between different types of jobs.  Benefits, health insurance, hours worked per week, etc.

EPI’s Jeffrey Keefe had a follow-up last week from his original research where he provides a chart of different types of public employees and their mean and median income, along with some distributional statistics.

One thing that jumps out is that, using his chart, the mean is only ~3% more than the median for unionized Wisconsin public workers. That’s a pretty tight and symmetrical distribution. Normally, if some people are being more rewarded than others to a large degree, then the mean should skyrocket above the median. For Police and Sherriff’s Patrol Officers, the median is actually higher than the mean, which you rarely see in labor markets.

Teachers make up around 70% of the people pulled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Keefe’s study. In order to dig deeper in teacher’s salaries, I went to the Statistical Information Center – School Staff and Salary Data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. There’s a lot of cool information there. Scroll down to “Teachers”, and you can get the salaries and other information on over 400 districts.

I’m not going to control for all the important things that are necessary to do this right – education, age, gender, race, etc.  Just looking at the raw numbers:  The 2009 average salary across the averages for all districts is $48,267.  The Census Bureau’s Median Household Income by State – Single-Year Estimates has the medium household income at $51,237.   A random household is going to take home a larger salary than a teacher in Wisconsin.

More:

1. Salary information skews high, so the average (mean) is higher than the median. The average teacher’s salary is lower than the median household in Wisconsin. Since the average household income in Wisconsin is going to be even higher than the median, this is a very low-ball estimate. (Can we get average household income by state?)

The more you control for things, the sharper this distinction will get.  According to the Census, only around 22.4% of people in Wisconsin have a college degree. Since college education is expected for teachers, we aren’t even comparing the same education bucket and they are already behind.

2. If you take being “middle-class” as having a median wage, then being a teacher is not a middle-class job as it stands.  A household with a teacher will need to put additional labor into the marketplace in order to have a median amount of wages.

3. If you take being “middle-class” as having a baseline bucket of security goods like health care and retirement, then teachers are doing better.  Teachers will have better benefits than the median household – Keefe explains these numbers in detail.   But when it comes to other college educated workers, they are going to get blown out of the water total compensation-wise.   And these security goods are precisely what unions bring, and also what has the target over them in this recession.

4. How’s the growth rate of salaries? I added the 2010 salaries with the category for fringe benefits (which includes health care, retirement, and other benefits) and and compared them to the 2000 values. The overall yearly rate of growth on total compensation is 3.36%. Higher than inflation – the CPI is humming along at around 2.4% a year over the past ten years. I’ll leave it to education experts to determine how much value has been added in those ten years – Wisconsin certainly does well in educating its children – but it is worth noting that public educators have taken hits in this recent recession, and are willing to take an additional haircut.

But that’s not what this is about.   It’s about preventing public unions from having any say. The public unions under attack are willing to take benefit and pay cuts. But conservatives want to use this crisis to make significant gains in ending public labor unions.

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125 Responses to The Average Teacher in Wisconsin Has a Smaller Salary Than the Median Wisconsin Household.

  1. Donnie says:

    I hate to say this, but the numbers you are showing seem to support the fact that teachers are somewhat overpaid.

    A average, single teacher makes $48k, while the median HOUSEHOLD only makes $51k. If two average teachers were to marry, their household income would be $96k, which is far higher than the median household income.

    • Tim says:

      Except that you need a degree. And then either teaching experience at a private school or via something rare like TFA, or a postgrad cert program. It’s quite expensive, and I know many teachers who will be paying off their student loans for a very long time.

      Compare apples to apples- look at similar rates of education and you will find that many other careers are far more lucrative than public education.

      • MequonJack says:

        Go find a job in that field then, every open teaching position yields 400 applicants! Not what I would call a market sensative position. Tired of teachers trying to compare themselves to accountants, engineers and other professions. You guys made your choice in college. If you want a job with more money…….GO OUT AND GET IT AND SHUT UP!!! I assure you, the kids will be just fine, you are replaceable. Good Luck in the private sector!

      • Chris B says:

        And you only work 3 quarters of the year when the members of the average household have what 3 weeks off

    • Jenna says:

      Donnie, it is clear that if 2 teachers marry they are making $96k on average, but if 2 people in the private sector marry, they exceed $96k. Your argument is not sound. Clearly teachers make less than the average person in the private sector who has had the ability to negotiate their salary as means of making up for lack of percieved benefits. Now, most companies do a 401K match – the teachers do not get this. So, that is a companies way of contributing like the pension that the teacher makes. There are trade-offs. A teacher goes into this job knowing they will make less on average than the private sector, but that they can retire and maintain their standard of living. The raises a teacher gets do NOT keep up with inflation and in some years they get ZERO. So, how long would you work for a company that didn’t give you a raise or at least give you a percentage increase based on standard of living increases? Not many people would stick around – they cannot afford to. Let me go one step farther to clarify that I am NOT a teacher or union based employee. I am a sales rep and I exceed the median income level and would love to pay less out of pocket for taxes, ect but I do not expect to take away from my children’s teachers to accomplish my goal. What Walker is doing is bullying his policy into place. Bullying. Not negotiating or LISTENING to ALL taxpayers (because teachers, nurses, garbage collectors, ect) are ALL taxpayers. No, he has a right wing adjenda – shoving this down our throat like Obama has done with health care. WHERE DOES IT END???

      • Heidi says:

        Thanks for your support, Jenna.

        There is also the out of pocket continuing education that teachers must do…usually during those summers “off” everyone is so fond of pointing out…that don’t get factored in. Most private sector positions have education incentives or reimbursements…

      • Greg says:

        Jenna, You are missing the point! The point is that the study compares households with a minimum of two people vs. one teacher salary. A household with 2 people has a median salary of 51K, that’s usually with two people bringing in some kind of income. That’s compared with one teacher salary of actually now it is 52K, the figure cited was 2009. I have been around enough to know that there aren’t enough individuals making over 50K to balance out those making under 50K to make the individual median close to 50K. Your comments about 401K’s, first teachers don’t need 401ks because their retirement is covered, and by a few analyses I’ve seen pays out twice as much per year during retirement as a 401k (20k per yr vs. 10k) Teachers have had to pay next to nothing in during their employment to get that and all the state wants to do is have them pay in 10%. Not half, not we’ll match you, only 10% – for twice as much in benefits as 401Ks give, and paying half of what you make, into it.
        And you saying that teacher’s salaries don’t keep up with inflation, from 2006 to 2010 the average teacher salary rose $6,000. That seems like it’s well above inflation to me. Yes, they did freeze their salaries last yr because of the fiscal crisis, but it’s still pretty good where they’re at.
        And you say that Walker is bullying this through, but it has to go through the legislature which many will be up for election in two years, if it was so wrong to do it you would think they will think twice.
        To address some of you comments below, how are public sector workers going to be flung into the private sector? There is nothing in the governor’s proposal that would cause that, rather it is the unions that drive up to price of labor, forcing schools to consolidate and children to have to ride 2 hrs to school, and diminishing the amount of people that can be paid out at the end of the day.
        The bottom line is our state can’t afford the system as it is. 8 years of democratic leadership has led us to be one of the highest tax states in the U.S. and the state that companies like to relocate from, or close plants down in. We need more businesses not bigger labor, we need to lower expenses so that the everyday person that’s trying to make it, has a chance to. In fact, I do feel it’s so bad if they don’t fix it I will move to a state where they know how to attract business. The state could go bankrupt, and then the pensions, the govt jobs, that’s when they all go away.

      • Phalen says:

        Jenna,

        If two people in the private sector married, their income would be considered Household income. I found this stat for Wisconsin: Male full-time, year round, workers median income: $44,105 Female full-time, year round, workers median income: $32,265.

        So if you’re a man in Wisconson, teachers make a little more than you do on average. If you’re a women, they make considerably more than you do. (If you assume that the majoriy if teachers are women, then their average salary of $46k (or whatever it is) increases that median of $32 all women make which means the average income of a women in Wisconsin is probably under $30K per year – so teachers to extremely well compared to their counterparts.

      • paulylytle@yahoo.com says:

        HOUSEHOLD=2.5 people. Where do you come up with the idea that if two private sector workers marry it exceeds $96K? There is absolutely no support whatsoever for your assertion. Did you mean to say, “If two households marry”? How can two household marry?

        Also, MOST private sector companies do NOT do a 401K match.

        MOST private sector employees do NOT recieve ANY raise in pay. There are no “standard of living” increases in the private sector.

        Also, you mention your children, are you satisfied with their teacher’s level of performance (2/3 of Milwaukee 8th graders lack reading proficiency)?

        Would you still be a “sales rep” if you consistantly achieved only 1/3 of your quota.

    • Phalen says:

      Amen!!!!

      Duh… winning. (Thanks Charlie Sheen.) The average HOUSEHOLD income probably includes two wage earners.

      I would love to see a stat that shows the average household income in which one person in the household is a teacher. Also, the average teacher salary is about $46,000, but that doesn’t include the cost of the benefits and pension that are probably more than the private sector.

      Think about that, I assume living in Wisconsin is fairly inexpense. If $46k is an average salary, and $25k is the starting salary, logic tells me that teachers working for several years could easily be making $60k at some point. A married pair of teachers could be making well over $100k with a low cost of living and not have to worry a bit about saving a dime for retirment because their pensions and SS would cover them for the rest of their lives. (Plus, they could make additional $$ in the summers when school is out of session.)

    • Jake says:

      This does not control for the hours worked. If you look at John Keefe’s statistice. There is no control for the fact that teachers in WIsconsin rarely work more than a 40 hour week . They work 180 days a year with personal time off depending on the district. The total days in a year most individuals work is at least 230. Teacher may take work home but are allowed prep time during the school day as well. Most professionals do “prep” or extended their work day well beyond 40 hours and are not paid to do so.

      • David says:

        Jake, you are absolutely right. Teachers seldom work 8 hours a day. They work closer to 11 hours a day. Do you actually believe that a teachers day end at the last bell? When do you think papers are graded and the next day is planned. Teachers refer to their students as “their kids”. Do you care how well someone elses child does in school? If your job requires continuing education? How much do you pay for it?

  2. Tom says:

    In addition to the median/mean mismatch, it looks like you are comparing individual incomes and household incomes. Still, the point that the average teachers salary is $48000 says that teachers are a long way from being overpaid.

  3. K. Williams says:

    “2. If you take being “middle-class” as having a median wage, then being a teacher is not a middle-class job as it stands. A household with a teacher will need to put additional labor into the marketplace in order to have a median amount of wages.”

    You’re kidding, right? That average wage is for 9 1/2 months of work, not the 12 months that most workers have to put in. You say you need to control for “age, gender,” etc., but you’re not controlling for the most important thing, which is the actual hours that people work. An average individual teacher earns essentially the same as the average Wisconsin household, and has an extra 2 1/2 months in order to earn more money, or, alternatively, to enjoy as leisure. And that’s not taking benefits into account. Really, you should just erase this post.

    • Tim says:

      Teachers don’t get paid for the hours they spend at home or extra time with students (when they aren’t already being paid). If you want to make an argument that they work less time each year, it seems almost intentionally dishonest that you would simply leave out the fact that they are paid salary, and yet must do plenty of their work at home.

      Then again, seems like honesty or understanding wasn’t your angle.

      • K. Williams says:

        In today’s economy, just about every professional now does “plenty of their work at home” while being paid a salary. There’s nothing special or unique about teachers’ post-workday work load — and I didn’t even mention that a teacher’s “workday” is generally a couple of hours shorter than that of most professionals.

        Your definition of “honesty and understanding” seems to be “blindly accepting whatever propaganda teachers’ unions dish out.”

      • Tim says:

        It isn’t unique, it’s not much different than people who work a regular job. I know plenty of programmers, gov contractors & service workers who put in comparable hours as teachers. Most of them for significantly higher pay (even counting total compensation) with equal or less education required.

        Still, it’s worth asking that as this point, what do you want teachers to do? We require our teachers to have a degree. To be trained and certified. It is expensive (and constantly more expensive) and comparable education experience can provide a graduate with much better employment prospects.

        It seems like the only conclusion to take from your post is that you don’t care about the quality of the education children receive in public school.

      • Phalen says:

        Most people that make a good salary, also work more than 8 hours per day and also take work home with them. My office is open 8:30 to 5:00 and several employees come in early and/or stay unil 6 or later and often work from home on the weekends as well. It’s not like “only” teachers put in extra worlk.

      • paulylytle@yahoo.com says:

        You do realize that most “salaried” employees routinely work at home, at night, on weekends and well in excess of the “regular” 40 hour work week, correct? The only difference is they don’t get the summer, Christmas vacation, spring break, MLK Day etc. off.

        It would seem that honesty and understandning is not your angle.

    • Middle Molly says:

      As someone who has taught in both private and public schools, both in grade schools and in high schools, and who has also had a demanding career in business consulting, I will tell you that the hardest thing I have ever done was teaching. Managing fixed fee consulting projects is much easier work than standing in front of a bunch of kids, many of whom are unruly, many who don’t want to be there, for at least five hours a day.

      When you are working in IT, you can actually go to the bathroom when you feel like it. Not so in teaching. And dealing with a child who was injured while under your watch is much more stressful than dealing with a system that doesn’t seem to be doing what it should be doing. Dealing with an irate parent is much more difficult than dealing with an irate client.

      About the hours; actually fairly equal. Teachers are expected to take classes during the summer, to plan the upcoming school year, to attend meetings, to organize their classrooms and materials; there isn’t as much free time as it seems there might be.

      And the intensity of teaching makes up for any difference in time spent on the job.

      Can you imagine an actor on a stage 5-6 hours a day, five days a week, 40 plus weeks a year? That’s the closest equivalent to teaching.

    • Jenna says:

      Your argument isn’t sound either. Teachers don’t get days off to do their work or admin time as we like to call it in the private sector. They take it home with them, thus extending their day long past when the bell rings at 3:30 pm. Not to mention, teachers are now not just teacher, oh no, they have to babysit kids whose parents are MIA or lack discipline and structure in their homes. Kids now waste taxpayer money playing with cell phones in class, refusing to hand them over because it is against school policy. They disrupt the school day, making it harder for teachers to get through the material they have to get through. Not only that, in MPS, good luck getting even 50% of parents to show up for parent teacher conferences. Yeah, you heard me. Teachers put in a full days work from 8 am to 9 pm on days of parent teacher conferences. Like that would happen in the private sector? I work there & no it does not. Teachers not only have to teach & grade, but now they have to parent a large percentage of kids who don’t get what they need at home. So, now you ask – so whart – I still want to to take away unions and decrease their pay so that the 2 months they have off is without pay. Think of it like this. Your better teachers or those who support a family WILL leave & WILL be competing for jobs in the private sector. All you PRO walker unemployed people, better save more, because now displaced union workers are going to go after your jobs. And they will TAKE LESS MONEY than you because leaving the public sector and taking a paycut in the private sector is still more profitable than staying put. So now they still get whatever pension they have earned, higher wages, plus a 401K and health insurance. Wow, sounds like a better deal to me. Then the quality of education will go down because Walker is all about wage sliding & putting in cheap labor (i.e. unexperienced teachers). Test scores should go down & now your kids who are 1-3 years away from college WON’T be as competitive as those with a quality education. Not to mention your hero walker is cutting school budgets, so even without teachers leaving the industry, schools are going to be strapped in WI to provide better resources for better education. All of this coming at you because a COLLEGE DROPOUT walker has big plans to turn around a BUDGET surplus – yes you heard me right – a BUDGET SURPLUS. He is lying. Get your facts straight because if you let him do this, who is next on the chopping block? Believe me, don’t think medicare can’t be next. And don’t think walker has to tell the truth about it either.

      • Heidi says:

        Oh my goodness! Somebody who GETS it!

      • Jake says:

        Jenna is 100% correct. Those not willing to teach will be taking other jobs in the private sector and WILL get them since they hold a college degree. Best be ready for those who think teachers should “just” leave the PROFESSION!!! Hence, it is a career NOT a job.

      • cjshaker says:

        Who in exempt positions does NOT take their work home? I worked up to 100 hrs a week in Silicon Valley, as a development engineer. No pension, either. 401K ‘plan’ for retirement. We usually have to sign an ‘employment at will’ contract. Our health care is inferior, too.

        Chris Shaker

      • Can we cut through all the bullshit and get just one question answered?

        What percentage of a teacher or state worker’s highest salary does their pension pay out, and how does that compare to those in the private sector who get SS?

      • cjshaker says:

        Article compares costs to an employer in private industry with what governments have to pay public employees in Wisconsin

        Oh, To Be a Teacher in Wisconsin
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703408604576164290717724956.html

        Chris Shaker

    • Jenna says:

      K. Williams you need to erase your post. I challenge you to spend a week teaching in MPS, especially if you currently work in the private sector. See, someone has to teach our kids. Someone has to work the long hours, put up with all the crap kids dish out each day, put up with the parents who justify their kids bad behavior. And by bad behavior I mean not showing up to class, not doing homework, calling their teacher a “bitch” amongst many other lovely names, hitting classmates and making drug deals on their cell phone. Yes, this is what happens NOT only in MPS but in the burbs as well. Can you imagine 40+ hours a week of that? Not me. Don’t need the stress. Selling to educated buyers is much more my thing. But then again, I realize that because I don’t want to teach and because I have kids, I need strong, compassionate, well educated teachers to help my children get into the college they want and get the career they hope for. Teachers are essential to our prosperity and to our nation’s future, Please try to look at the big picture and not be so short sighted.

      • K. Williams says:

        “K. Williams you need to erase your post. I challenge you to spend a week teaching in MPS, especially if you currently work in the private sector. See, someone has to teach our kids. Someone has to work the long hours, put up with all the crap kids dish out each day, put up with the parents who justify their kids bad behavior. And by bad behavior I mean not showing up to class, not doing homework, calling their teacher a “bitch” amongst many other lovely names, hitting classmates and making drug deals on their cell phone. Yes, this is what happens NOT only in MPS but in the burbs as well. Can you imagine 40+ hours a week of that?”

        Yes, I can imagine 40+ hours a week of that, because my parents have been teachers and administrators in inner-city Catholic schools, where they worked harder and longer hours than the vast majority of public-school teachers. They had no tenure (nor did they want any). They were paid significantly less, and got far less in benefits. Yet a high percentage of the kids they taught went on to good high schools and then on to college, despite growing up in the inner city. Don’t talk to me about how “teachers are essential to our prosperity” — I know they are, and I know what it takes to be an excellent teacher. It does not take tenure. It does not take unions protecting incompetent teachers. And it does not take a pay system in which the incompetent are paid roughly the same as the excellent. All of these things need to be done away with. Now.

      • susan says:

        well said K

      • Tim says:

        There’s been little to support the argument that teachers are somehow making our children fail (especially as a systemic thing).

        Ever wonder why almost every under-performing school is in an urban environment defined by large amounts of poverty, or rural or other areas with large amounts of poverty?

        Probably not, since you seem to be implying that if you somehow fire teachers and pay them less, we’d get a better system. If only reality were that simple.

      • timtonya45 says:

        If a teacher loves what they do then whatever is happening with Walker should be a non-issue. My husband has been in ministry for more than 15 years, puts in far more hours than any teacher, works day, nights, weekends, and year round. NO ONE contributes to our retirement except for us and we are on state health insurance because his pay is so low. Please stop complaining about your income when there are many other far worse off!

    • Eileen says:

      K. Williams: When you state “That average wage is for 9 1/2 months of work, not the 12 months that most workers have to put in.” you are mistaken regarding annual work time equivalences. Teachers are required to not only put in their classroom hours but several hours every week preparing lessons, grading papers, participating in extracurricular activities, for which they are not compensated. In addition, teachers have continuing education requirements to maintain their teaching licenses. Most teachers use some of their 2 1/2 months time off from classroom teaching for continuing education. Anyone who chooses teaching as a profession in this country while being so underpaid, under supported and given so little respect while dedicating their lives to the education of our children deserves sainthood! Without education we will have no democracy and unless our teachers (and schools) are given the support they deserve, there will be no United States of America. Could this be the agenda of the mega-corporations pushing for the complete dissolution of unions?

    • Mark says:

      Not sure where you live and what teachers you know, but many of our local teachers are in at 7-7:30 and many are there until 4:30 or 5, on a good day. They may or may not have had a lunch break as many of them give up free time to meet with students. Then they go home to work for a few hours. Many teachers are also being “encouraged” to get Masters Degrees for the better districts. Sounds like a simple life to me.

    • J Fred says:

      Pauly…yes, many “salaried” people do work more than a 40-hour work week, but most “salaried” people have degrees and are compensated by higher salaries than most teachers. In addition, if teaching is such an easy, breezy job why don’t all of you who complain about teachers making so much for doing so little go to school to become teachers? Then, you too could have the breeze of a job that you all CLAIM we have.

  4. If your point is that public employees are making less money than the average median household, you would need to compare teachers and only teachers, against the median household, but you should use OTHER PUBLIC POSITIONS that you said skew higher and that would raise the household median average.

    Ironically, it is the other public official positions that may be pulling the median higher so that it looks like the teachers are under paid. Then there is the issue of having summers off. Although I don’t know if teachers are required to do things during the summer to keep up with their own education.

    There is the issue of their future pension, no? And health care is a big deal as well. I think I heard that unions are paying 6% of their overall health care costs and they are willing to increase that to 12%. That still means that 88% is being footed by the public at large, no?

    One of the big problems with collective bargaining is there is more than one collective that is bargaining with the state. Unions sometimes base their pay increase on what other unions are getting.

    The problem is some unions are more equal than others, they think they should get a bigger increase than other unions. Whereas other unions consider themselves as equal. So once one union agrees to a certain percentage increase, the other unions feel slighted if they get less of an increase.

    Then there is the issue that some unions generate income for the state (such as water and power), and they feel that they should get a bigger increase, whereas others (such as police and fire), can cite that they save the state money with their services by putting out fires and preventing robberies and they too should get a bigger increase, plus they risk their lives.

    The reverse way to look at the situation is this, what COULD the state pay their employees if there was NO PENSION at all. Suddenly that teacher might be making an extra 10 – 20 grand a year, no?

    • Middle Molly says:

      I read somewhere (sorry, no link right off the bat) that, sometime in the past, the Wisconsin teachers had agreed to lower wages in order to get higher pensions.

    • J Fred says:

      As a public employee I not only draw on public taxes to pay my salary, but also PAY into those very taxes from which I draw my salary. How many non-public employees are required to contribute to their own paycheck?

      In addition, I buy supplies for my classroom and my students (as many have parents who cannot afford to provide their children with the basic necessities of paper and pencils/pens). How many non-public business employees are required to purchase their own office supplies or supplies for others working in their office?

      As an educator I am required to obtain a Bachelor’s degree (and in my state a Master’s degree). At my local public university it would cost $67,000 to obtain the Bachelor’s (accounting for the average 7% tuition increase per year), another $27,000 to obtain the Master’s degree, and an additional $33,000 in graduate credits throughout the lifetime of my career to maintain my licensure. That is a total investment of approximately $127,000 – not accounting for the interest that will be added to this amount over the lifetime of the loan.

      According to the census figures posted by Mr. Konczal, 77.6% of the residents of Wisconsin do not have the responsibility of paying back the $127,000 investment in their jobs that their counterparts in education do as only 22.4% of the population have obtained a college degree. This $127,000 investment translates into a monthly tuition payment that 77.6% of Wisconsin residents do not have to figure into their own monthly budgets.

      In regard to pensions…10% of my pay is currently deducted from each check before taxes (soon to be increased to 14%), which gets deposited into a common State Teachers’ pension fund of which I am not guaranteed to receive one cent. This is much like Social Security, however only 6.2% was deducted from non-pension workers’ paychecks for 2010, which has been reduced to 4.2% for 2011 (essentially less than 1/3 of the contribution that teachers will be required to make when our contribution increases to 14%). In addition, currently both employers of workers with and without pensions make contributions to either pension funds or Social Security respectively. However, in my state (Ohio) and others, the governors wish to abolish the employers’ contributions to public/state employees pensions while the federal government maintains the employers’ contributions to Social Security. Therefore public/state employees will be responsible for 100% of the maintenance of their pension funds, while non-public/state employees receive a matching contribution into the Social Security fund from which they will eventually draw.

      Therefore, in essence, my $52,000 gross annual salary (with a Master’s in Education) is reduced by $4800 (annual tuition payments after taxes) + $5200 (current annual pension contribution before taxes) + $1200 (current insurance premiums after taxes) bringing my annual salary to $40,800.

      Finally, if we want to stick to the public’s perception of a teacher only working 9 1/2 months a year for 6 ½ hours a day, let’s deduct the $13,000 that I donated in extra hours worked (…I kept track of these hours for one year), which brings my salary to a grand total of $27,800. Divide the median household salary in half ($25,620) and I make just over $2000 more per year than the average individual in Wisconsin without a college degree.

      Now, let’s address that 9 ½ month issue. There are professions in which the employees are scheduled to work three 12-hour shifts per week. This, in effect, provides the employee with 2 days off out of a 5-day work week or 100 days off annually (2 days x 50 weeks). Add to this, 2 weeks paid vacation (5 days x 2 weeks = 10 days) and the total days off are equivalent to 22 weeks off work. There are those who work four 10-hour days per week giving them 50 days off annually plus an additional 10 days for two weeks of vacation. This equates to 12 weeks off work. The difference in these two examples is that their days off don’t come in one lump sum (such as summers for teachers). HOWEVER, their salaries ARE comparable to teachers. I am not mentioning this because I believe these professionals deserve neither these salaries nor their days off, but merely to bring to light an equivalent comparison among professions.

  5. But you should NOT use OTHER PUBLIC POSITIONS that you said skew higher and that would raise the household median average.

    I forgot the NOT in my prior post. Would be nice to have five minutes to edit responses.

  6. ginsbu says:

    “For Police and Sherriff’s Patrol Officers, the median is actually higher than the mean, which you rarely see in labor markets.”

    If the data includes poorly paid cadets (trainees at police academies)—as I expect it would— that would explain this distribution.

  7. Mike says:

    Thanks for the feedback. These are all excellent points, and I did bring most of them up in the post. I sadly couldn’t find average individual salary for Wisconsin (does it exist?), so I went with the data I could find, falling back on Keefe’s study as the initial point.

    The more general point is that teacher’s salaries aren’t obviously out of control, either in size or in growth rate. Everything about it looks like something that could, at most, do with a small haircut rather than needing to be destroyed.

    Alessandro, the $48,267 number is teachers only. I do filter out other public workers, union or otherwise.

    K. Williams, Keefe’s study controls for hours worked. In general, with grading and working from home, teachers work more than 40 hours/week, so I actually think its more of a wash that you lead on.

    Donnie, everything would change if we controlled for college-level education, especially given that only 22% of Wisconsin holds a college degree. We are comparing teachers to random people off the street here, who are not college educated.

    • K. Williams says:

      By the way, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that teachers are, on the whole, overpaid. I just think the argument in this post that they’re underpaid doesn’t actually work. More important, the biggest problem with teacher compensation is something Mike mentions glancingly in his post, namely that the distribution of teacher salaries is “tight and symmetrical,” meaning that there’s very little differentiation in how teachers are paid. This is a predictable consequence of unionization, but it’s an awful way to run an education system. The difference in performance (that is, impact on those they’re teaching) between the best and worst-performing teachers is absolutely massive, as Eric Hanushek has shown. Yet the difference in compensation between them is practically nil. The reality is that poor-performing teachers are significantly overpaid — relative to a replacement-level teacher, they actually make their students dumber — while excellent teachers are significantly underpaid. Teachers’ unions’ refusal to accept differential compensation, while not explicitly at issue in Wisconsin, is one of the reasons why any good progressive (that is, anyone who’s concerned about the fate of poor and working-class kids) should be finding it increasingly difficult to support them.

      • Tim says:

        There are differences in performance between teachers, but there are few effective means to measure it. Standardized test performance is one, but even a bad teacher can teach to the test thoroughly enough to have decent performance. Incentivized pay structures don’t work well in a field where few can even agree what to measure, let alone how to measure it.

      • Middle Molly says:

        I’m not sure who the guy is who figured out how to tell an under performing teacher from an excellent teacher, but it’s not as cut and dried as some think. I’ve evaluated plenty of teachers, and, other than those who are really bad or those who are new and inexperienced, it’s pretty darned hard to decide who is good and who isn’t, who should stay and who should go. (I did most of my evaluations in a private school, so we really could get rid of teachers that we thought were not dedicated or were incompetent.) Anybody who thinks you can use test scores to determine if a teacher is good or bad knows not one thing about kids or how they learn.

        Most teachers are paid based on years of service and education attained. The difference between the lowest (new teachers) and the highest (most experience and education) is about 100%. I was looking at Milwaukee’s statistics over the weekend, and the lowest paid teachers were making about 37,000; the highest in the 70′s.

  8. Woodshedder says:

    What happens when you add in benefits, like pension and healthcare?

    For MPS, benefits are worth another 45K or so.

    “The average salary for an MPS teacher is $56,500. When fringe benefits are factored in, the annual compensation will be $100,005 in 2011.”

    http://maciverinstitute.com/2010/03/average-mps-teacher-compensation-tops-100kyear/

    Unions have long used benefits as their main bargaining tool, and we can see how this has led to taxpayers funding generous benefits packages equal to almost the entire salary of a MPS teacher. This is why Governor Walker wants to end collective bargaining for benefits but leave collective bargaining intact for base pay.

    • Tim says:

      Base pay increases against the CPI, at least as I’ve seen it reported. It would require a vote to increase past that.

    • Middle Molly says:

      I saw that study over the weekend, and I also found a site that publishes the salary and fringe benefits of Wisconsin public school teachers. I thought that fringe benefits that equal 70% of wages was very high.

      I pulled some random sets of Milwaukee teachers (not administrators, not speech pathologists, just teachers), and I came up with an average salary of about $54K with average fring benefits at about $28K.

      In the video found on the maciverinstitute website, the woman who gives the 100K figure is obviously someone who has an interest in teachers having a very high pay.

      There was no explanation of what the woman based her numbers on; whether or not she included administrators (which would increase the average fringe benefit amount.)

      The salary of Milwaukee public school employees is online. Look at it, and run some numbers. The 48K per teacher for fringe benefits just wasn’t supported by any sample of data that I pulled.

    • Jacob says:

      Sure blame the unions for the defined benefits pensions that were developed by well meaning legislators. Good thing you don’t have a blatantly obvious anti union agenda…

  9. Other union jobs may be raising the household median average of all Wisconsin workers. My point is all union jobs should be subtracted from what the actual median average household income is, then compare the teachers salaries to that average.

    I’m talking about the “All Stat” listed on the far right. Show me the All non public employees yearly average versus just the teachers.

    I’m assuming if teachers did not collect a pension, they would be eligible for social security, correct? So why bother with a pension at all, just roll it in now and give all public employees a nice raise, then they get social security when they are older.

    It would be interesting to see how much more per year a public employee could be paid in exchange for losing their pension. If its a 20% raise, then multiply that out over 20 or 30 years and that gives that employee plenty of time to invest that money in a home or in bonds or even as just savings.

    I’m guessing that teachers work approximately 180-190 days a year. The average worker that works 50 weeks a year is working 250 days. If your point is that during those 180 days the teacher works a ten hour day. That 20% increase would put them at around 220 to 230 days, no? That’s still an extra 20 to 30 days off a year.

    • Middle Molly says:

      For anybody who thinks teachers don’t work as hard as the “average” person, please go up a bit and read my reply several posts above this one.

      The only people who think teachers don’t work very hard because they have summers off are people who have never taught.

      • Of course teachers work hard. But overall, that summer time off is a pretty nice perk. The rest of the year may be hard, but there are other jobs that are hard all year long and a person may only get two weeks off.

        And the perks are really nice, virtually free healthcare, I’m curious about the vacation days, can those be accrued? The pension another key issue. I’d like a clarification how the teacher’s pension works, when it starts, and how it works alongside social security.

        I’m for all public employees getting a nice raise in exchange for no pension simply because it allows the states to more responsibly budget every year. Pay raises today is more ethical than promises made 30 years from now, when the size of the promise exponentially increases irrespective of a state’s ability to pay. This is probably unconstitutional, TO BOTH SIDES.

        It’s not fair to state employees to offer unrealistic pensions to if they cannot be afforded, it’s not fair to taxpayers to pay more and more for less and less services.

      • Tim says:

        Healthcare and pensions are conditional & deferred compensation. If you don’t pay pensions, you’ll have difficulty with later competitiveness with other fields, which public education already has. The compensation rate is low when you comparable workers in the private sector with the same level of education.

  10. My overall point is, I think there are other creative perks that could be allocated to public employees in exchange for the pension. The overall benefit to EVERYBODY is that the city knows what it can actually spend every year without a future burden that keeps increasing as more city retirees begin collecting their pensions at higher and higher amounts.

    The federal government could be doing things like, keeping city employees at the lowest tax rate for up to 75,000. Allowing city employees to receive their social security pensions 2 years earlier than everybody else. There are ways to modify the system so that there is less of an overload later on.

  11. jpe says:

    there’s a weird disconnect in the comp figures. The MacIver Institute claims comp is almost 100% more than salary, while per the EPI study it’s about 50% more. That’s a mighty big difference. It’s possible there’s something teacher-specific or even MPS specific, but that’s still a big enough difference where I can’t help wonder if we’ve got dueling methodologies.

    • Middle Molly says:

      My calculations, based on Wisconsin public school data that I found online, show that teachers in MI average 54K, and benefits average 28K.. much more inline with the 50% more.

      There’s no explanation of what that Milwaukee school district official was looking at for her figures.

  12. tejanarusa says:

    Why do the MacIver Institute data seem wildly skewed? Follow the money, and the founders, to their source, a John Bircher-linked wildly right wing couple who left a foundation dedicated to “crushing the labor movement.”
    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/21/zombie-johnbirch-walker/

    Suddenly, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

  13. Jay says:

    “Since college education is expected for teachers, we aren’t even comparing the same education bucket and they are already behind.”

    You haven’t looked at the rigors of college curricula lately. To put engineering and education degrees in the same bucket is a joke.

    Your comparison of household income to 1 teacher’s income is a joke. Unless you want to assume a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

    • Middle Molly says:

      Unless you actually have received a teaching degree and also received an engineering degree, you can’t make those kinds of comparisons. Let’s face it; most engineers don’t have the kinds of personalities that would make them effective teachers, particularly of little kids, and most teachers probably don’t have the mental and psychological makeup to be successful engineers. It doesn’t really mean that one profession is more or less valuable than the other.

      • Jay says:

        The supply of people mentally capable of obtaining an engineering degree and being successful in the field is significantly smaller than the supply of people mentally capable of obtaining a teaching degree and being successful in the field.

        On average, college also costs teachers less than other professions because a much larger percentage of teachers go to less expensive teacher farms (I mean colleges).

      • I can agree with Middle Molly on this point, some math and engineer types that I have met and worked with are socially retarded, but smugly think they are smarter than others in EVERYTHING. I’ve experienced this type of jerkiness on more than one occasion.

        I sometimes think they should be made to wear a certain color of clothing so the rest of us can be warned as to what we are dealing with.

    • TeacherB says:

      Jay,

      I went to college to become a physical therapist. While taking my pre-PT classes, I realized I was more into research than I was into the therapy aspect. So I went to grad school and got my Master’s in Molecular Biology from the UW-Madison. After working in a lab for three years and teaching classes for my PI, I realized my heart was really in the classroom. I left my job, got a teaching license and found a job that is more rewarding than any other I’ve had.

      I’ve worked in research in the private sector (great pay, OK bennies) and the public sector at the UW (OK pay, great bennies) and now in public education (OK pay, great bennies).

      I’ll agree with you that to obtain an engineering or education degrees, you would need a completely different set of skills. However, I resent the insinuation in your post that a teacher doesn’t need to have the same mental skills as an engineer. I can tell you you’re wrong. Plenty of engineers are brilliant. Same with teachers. Plenty of engineers are one fry short of a Happy Meal. Same with teachers. Some engineering programs are rigorous – same with education programs. Other programs (both engineering and education) leave a lot to be desired.

      Just because someone can do high level math, physics, whatever else engineers need to take, doesn’t mean that they are going to be able to teach. Teaching requires a completely different set of skills – and I’d venture to say it’d be harder for a bad teacher to hide than it is for a bad engineer to do the same.

      Yes – teachers are protected by tenure. And as a teacher, I think it stinks that bad teachers can fall into that. But the reality is this: we know who the bad teachers are within their first couple of years and we can get rid of them. And we do. Contrary to public belief, we do.

      Jay – I welcome you to come into my classroom. To work with my kids and then to come supervise the after-school activities I volunteer for, to help plan the summer supplemental activities that I don’t get paid for, to counsel my kids on college, career choice and the regular teen drama because their parents won’t. Really. Come on in. Sit down; watch me do my job. And then head on over to my colleagues’ classrooms and watch them. I think if you spent some time in the public schools, you might actually be amazed at what we do all day. And you’d be amazed at what the kids do all day and how they respond to routine, fair rules and boundaries. I also think you might gain a little more respect for those that share my profession.

      Sincerely,

      An educated teacher

      My job is amazing. And I’m good at what I do.

    • J Fred says:

      Jay…then why did my teaching degree cost the same as my step-son’s engineering degree. If our diploma is worth so much less then maybe we shouldn’t be required to pay the same. Oh…by the way, I believe it was teachers that provided those engineers the education they needed to obtain those high school diplomas and college degrees.

  14. Jay says:

    “A random household is going to take home a larger salary than a teacher in Wisconsin.”

    Comparing apples to oranges. An unbiased statement would be:

    A random household is going to take home a smaller salary than a random household with at least 1 teacher in Wisconsin.

  15. Ed K says:

    I, for one, think that teachers are grossly underpaid. I also think there are teachers who are not so good. The not so good ones are noticeable early on, so just don’t give them tenure. It’s pretty easy to get rid of them. If you think they’re overpaid, then a logical person would try to bring themselves up to that level, rather than bring someone else down. There’s the tricky part. The only voice workers have is unions, and gains are achieved through negotiations. The real problem with our world is that financial interests control it. It’s black and white and very apparent. They are taking more than they are contributing. If they paid their fair share we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    • Jay says:

      “I also think there are teachers who are not so good. The not so good ones are noticeable early on, so just don’t give them tenure.”

      I’d like to see evidence of that. My counter is an anecdote, something leftists love. My AP Physics teacher was the most senior teacher at my high school and the union president. His idea of teaching was to assign reading and let us read in class. Then assign problems and let us do problems in class. Then ask us if we had questions and belittle anyone that did, so no one ever asked questions. Rinse, lather, repeat.

      I learned more about physics in my AP Calc II class than I did in AP Physics.

    • chris says:

      The not so good ones are noticeable early on, so just don’t give them tenure. It’s pretty easy to get rid of them.

      Even if you’re right about the identifiability (which I doubt), isn’t that horribly wasteful compared to retraining them? There’s an odd kind of essentialism in the way some people talk about “bad teachers”; teaching is a skill that has to be learned and improves with experience, and with training if the training is any good. (And if it’s not, then the teacher-training program needs revision.)

  16. Tim says:

    I’ll have to remember that getting a degree in education (primarily only lower grades do this, higher usually get subject material then cert) doesn’t cost money.

    That was the point he was making that you ignored- that economically (both in costs and time required) we put burdens on teachers in order to obtain their jobs.

  17. Nandalal Rasiah says:

    Mike,

    in the EPI paper the sub-heading is, “why compare apples to oranges?” and that is absolutely valid when wearing the economist’s hat. When you put on the politician’s goat horns ‘n bare scalp, the lesser educated Wisconsin tax-payer who does not value public education highly enough to tolerate the clearly better benefits package enjoyed by the teacher is an equal to the better educated Wisconsin teacher (also tax-payer) who does enjoy those benefits. The former, humbled by the declining prospects of long-term investment in the stock market, must now curtail consumption and increase savings. The latter, buffeted by political change (initiated by the former–or if you’re an Ames-Levine/Thinkprogress person, the Koch brothers,) and captive to an inadequate income curve, relative to his similarly educated peers, must also curtail consumption but does not have to worry about the vicissitudes of the stock market because the taxes of the former are paying for a defined benefit package. I’m not confident that the former party is willing to make any sort of concession short of severing the direct connection to the governor’s office that achieved these defined benefits–shared economic pain of a similar nature may be easier to swallow than hearing, “well it’s apples to oranges.”

  18. K. Williams says:

    “There are differences in performance between teachers, but there are few effective means to measure it. Standardized test performance is one, but even a bad teacher can teach to the test thoroughly enough to have decent performance. Incentivized pay structures don’t work well in a field where few can even agree what to measure, let alone how to measure it”

    This is, not to put too fine a point on it, ridiculous. Anyone who’s spent any time in class as a student knows that there are some teachers who are excellent, and who make their students smarter, and some teachers who are poor, and actually make learning harder. If those differences in teacher quality exist — and no sensible person would deny that they do — then they can be measured. The continued insistence that there’s no way to successfully distinguish between bad and good teachers is driven more by ideological bias — unions, by their nature, are hostile to merit-based pay, because it drives wedges between their members — than by rationality.

    It’s undoubtedly true that making very fine-grained distinctions among teachers is very hard to do. But we don’t need to distinguish between teachers at the 45th percentile and teachers at the 60th percentile in order to make significant improvements in school quality. We need to distinguish between teachers at the top of the spectrum and teachers at the bottom, and we need to fire the teachers at the bottom and pay the teachers at the top significantly more. That requires the abolition of teacher tenure, and the introduction of merit-based pay across the board.

    • Tim says:

      The issue is systematic means that can be done in a reasonable time frame. Yes, a person who sits in a classroom with a teacher for a whole year will be able to give you a decent idea.

      There are two main ways, peer review via other teachers from different institutions, or testing. I personally prefer the first, and while I find it has some problems it could be implemented well.

      Still, even peer review doesn’t really measure something specific. It’s more a vague thumbs up or thumbs down on their entire performance. Again, leading back to my point about the ineffectiveness of a universal metric to measure teaching performance.

  19. Jenna says:

    I hate to say this but I find it DISGUSTING that so many people want to DEMONIZE teachers. I hope the teachers say SCREW YOU & tell walker to make all you selfish private sector folks hire people to homeschool. Or quit your job to teach your own kids. After all, so many people think that a monkey could teach their kids.

    Wisconsinites are really becoming STUPID.

    • How can 74,000 dollars worth of wealth on a yearly benefits be considered underpayment?
      And how does that compare to the private sector and it’s 51,000, which is actually LOWER because it has been skewed up by the state employees higher wages being averaged in.

      • Tim says:

        Uh, is 51,000 figure the private sector median, or the private sector median for workers of BA/MA educational attainment? I don’t get the argument if you want us to pay teachers the median wage when the median worker is not educated (with all of the consequent financial issues).

    • It seems to me that it is the state employees wanting to demonize everyone else.

    • susan says:

      you must have misunderstood – monkeys cannot tech kids and what we have teaching kids is monkeys. ;-)

      Seriously, I think that most teachers are good and well intentioned but are hamstrung by ineffective policies, apathetic parents and the rule of the minority – the minority being the disruptive, disrespectful students who should be tossed out of school instead of being allowed to run the classrooms, intimidate fellow students and teachers.

      And the union needs to weed out those that they KNOW shouldn’t be teaching, and stop protecting them.

    • paulylytle@yahoo.com says:

      Um…I think the teachers already said SCREW YOU. Have you looked at Wisconsin’s proficency scores? As a result many private workers have had to hire private school teachers in addition to bearing the burden of the dead weight in the public sector.

      • J Fred says:

        How much time does the average family spend on making sure their children’s homework is done? How many children have bed times that allow their children sufficient rest to be able to concentrate during school the next day? How many parents make sure their children attend school on a daily basis? How many parents show up for parent/teacher conferences? How many parents involve their children in making dinner, a cake, some jello and talk about the math involved in these daily activities? How many parents sit down and read a book to their children anymore? How many parents have their children help them balance their checkbooks or talk about how to budget their money?

        These are all things parents used to do before they became too busy with other constraints of daily living.

        My point — educating America’s children is a joint effort and although it’s easy to point the fingers at teachers and claim that they should take sole responsibility for the declining scores of our nation’s children…maybe it’s time parents also take a look at how involved they truly are in the education of their own children.

  20. susan says:

    The average teacher salary in Wi. is 49093.42 the average benefits is 25750.12This makes their total, average compensation $74,843.54 for the year 2010. Compare that to the 1998 data and you will see that their benefits, on average, have doubled. (1998 13k 2010 26k)

    Most people in the private sector pay some, if not all, of their medical, and contribute to pension plans. You are comparing apples and oranges if you do not take into consideration the benefits that other people receive from their employers. I think that you would find that teachers fare much better than these numbers show.

  21. susan says:

    One other point – as to Wi. having great educators, read these scores: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/two-thirds-wisconsin-public-school-8th-g

    Only 32% of Wisconsin public school 8th graders scored proficient in 8th grade reading. However, in the last 10 years they have increased the amount of money spent per student by nearly $5,000 (amount adjusted for inflation)- and there has been no increase in reading proficiency.

    • J Fred says:

      Amount spent per child addresses not only teachers’ salaries and benefits, but also the salary and benefits of the support staff (secretaries, custodial staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, para-proffesionals, counselors, nurses, & campus police officers) and administrators at both the building and board levels. It also includes building operations (utilities, upkeep & repairs of buildings, parking lots, etc.), as well as free breakfasts & lunches, and subsidies for student uniforms. Additionaly, text-books and basic office supplies are included in that cost per child.

      Given that the cost of everything has increased over the past ten years for every household in America, wouldn’t common sense tell us that the cost of educating our children would rise as well?

      Please do not assume that because we are spending more per child that it automatically translates into money to line teachers’ pockets.

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  23. K. Williams says:

    “Ever wonder why almost every under-performing school is in an urban environment defined by large amounts of poverty, or rural or other areas with large amounts of poverty?

    “Probably not, since you seem to be implying that if you somehow fire teachers and pay them less, we’d get a better system. If only reality were that simple.”

    You keep saying that I’m advocating paying teachers less. I’m not. I’m advocating paying teachers, as a group, more. But in order to do that and have it be useful, we need to be willing and able to fire bad teachers and pay better teachers more.

    It’s also not true that “There’s been little to support the argument that teachers are somehow making our children fail (especially as a systemic thing).” Eric Hanushek’s work shows that the gap between high-performing teachers and low-performing ones is positively immense, and that simply getting rid of the lowest-performing teachers would be worth trillions in future earnings for the kids they teach. If 6-10% of the teachers in the country are incompetent and destroying value for the kids they teach, that is a systemic problem that needs to be remedied. And the gains from getting rid of bad teachers are so large that even if our tools for identifying bad teachers are crude, it’s still worth using them — we could be misidentifying half of the teachers we fire, and it would still be enormously beneficial to the students (particularly since there’s no teacher-evaluation system that would misclassify a great teacher as a poor one).

    Finally, and most importantly, you’re asking the wrong question about school performance. Yes, class and surrounding environment make a huge difference, all other things being equal, in student performance. But all other things aren’t necessarily equal — excellent schools can literally make all the difference in the world. That’s what the Harlem Children’s Zone has demonstrated. It’s what the school that my mother ran for years — a school that takes low-income kids who were underperforming even in the public schools and regularly sends them to good high schools and colleges — has demonstrated. Your counsel — that we should let teachers’ unions keep doing things the way they’ve been doing them, and hope somehow that the surrounding environment for these schools will change — is a counsel of despair. And it’s a false counsel, because great schools, peopled by great teachers, can overcome a terrible social environment.

    • Tim says:

      “You keep saying that I’m advocating paying teachers less. I’m not. I’m advocating paying teachers, as a group, more. But in order to do that and have it be useful, we need to be willing and able to fire bad teachers and pay better teachers more.”

      Except merit based pay has big pitfalls. Not only in it’s applicability to teaching in general, but in the possible creation of negative effects of competition between teachers in the same school. I believe somewhere on this blog that was mentioned, that completely individualized merit based pay will not encourage teachers to help each other be more successful.

      And fair enough- if you believe the total level of compensation will not trend down in what you wish, I can respect that.

      “It’s also not true that “There’s been little to support the argument that teachers are somehow making our children fail (especially as a systemic thing).” Eric Hanushek’s work shows that the gap between high-performing teachers and low-performing ones is positively immense, and that simply getting rid of the lowest-performing teachers would be worth trillions in future earnings for the kids they teach. If 6-10% of the teachers in the country are incompetent and destroying value for the kids they teach, that is a systemic problem that needs to be remedied. And the gains from getting rid of bad teachers are so large that even if our tools for identifying bad teachers are crude, it’s still worth using them — we could be misidentifying half of the teachers we fire, and it would still be enormously beneficial to the students (particularly since there’s no teacher-evaluation system that would misclassify a great teacher as a poor one).”

      It comes right back to poverty. Yes, teachers can be mediocre, good, and bad. Ultimately, though, good teachers tend to trend away from the schools with the highest poverty rates. Those who don’t burn out are largely the less successful and more apathetic- as few would truly want to stay in such terrible learning environments.

      I challenge you to explain this phenomenon: Higher economic status at birth & during childhood correlate with future success (the sociological concept of life chances). Failing schools are overwhelmingly attended by children of parents with lower economic status. It is in this way, very specifically located.

      If teachers are truly the problem with the educational system, would the distribution not be more uniform? Why would the biggest educational problems occur in areas of high poverty?

      “Finally, and most importantly, you’re asking the wrong question about school performance. Yes, class and surrounding environment make a huge difference, all other things being equal, in student performance. But all other things aren’t necessarily equal — excellent schools can literally make all the difference in the world. That’s what the Harlem Children’s Zone has demonstrated. It’s what the school that my mother ran for years — a school that takes low-income kids who were underperforming even in the public schools and regularly sends them to good high schools and colleges — has demonstrated. Your counsel — that we should let teachers’ unions keep doing things the way they’ve been doing them, and hope somehow that the surrounding environment for these schools will change — is a counsel of despair. And it’s a false counsel, because great schools, peopled by great teachers, can overcome a terrible social environment.”

      No, I actually like peer review and some aspects of merit based pay. Even so, the problems cannot be fixed with programs that aim at teachers. Economic integration is a very powerful tool to help mix schoolchildren around to prevent balkanization of school districts into rich and poor (with effective and ineffective schools respectively).

      The other solution, of course, would be to stop making more people poor. (Something our economy is very good at)

      • Phalen says:

        “I challenge you to explain this phenomenon: Higher economic status at birth & during childhood correlate with future success (the sociological concept of life chances). Failing schools are overwhelmingly attended by children of parents with lower economic status. ”

        Simple: People in higher economic status tend to be there because: they are smart, they value education, they have good work ethic, they have the proper attitude, they expect the same of their children.

        Poor people generally are poor because; they are not smart, they didn’t value education, they made poor life choices, they didn’t value their education, they aren’t as demanding of their children, they think they are victims and success is not an option.

        These are generalities, of course, and there are many exceptions. But kids born to higher economic status are the kids of parents who have done something to achieve that status and tend to pass those values on to their kids. Poor kids, even when they have proper parenting, have to compete with the fact that they are surrounded and influenced by other kids that don’t have the propert values, which among other things, includes the lack of disciplne that disrupts classrooms and makes learning more difficult.

        The problem, that someone pointed out above somewhere, is that no amount of school funding or teacher salaries or benefits will affect the external factors. This is a societal problem that is only solved within the communities themselves.

  24. Barb Hartwell says:

    We all know good and bad teachers but in some cases it in not so black and white. Many American families have been working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Some of them had good jobs before and because of downsizing and company closures they are forced to leave their kids on their own. These are the kids that get in trouble and do poorly in school, and then we stop the after school programs to save money only to create more. Then we blame the teachers for their poor scores. I have a lot of respect for teachers, a lot of what they do is not on the curriculum, some of them have witnessed abuses and have been abused themselves. If they do this job for what they get paid well GOD BLESS THEM.

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  26. Denise says:

    I’m not all that offended that teachers make just a smidge less than the median income. First of all, I don’t know many who get so many days off every year. Secondly, those are wages shown. That figure is not including all the benefits they are getting, such as health care, that would put them way over the median. I don’t blame them for fighting to keep their mobster union protection, where you can do no wrong, but in this economy…something’s got to give.

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  28. rj says:

    Just another additional thought about the high cost of education that teacher’s require: many school districts qualify to forgive either some amount, substantial amounts, or even all of a teacher’s student loans. By choice teachers can go to “under-performing” or “mixed” or “low-value” districts and basically have no cost to their education.

    IMHO, a smart teacher would do the above if they want to be fiscally responsible and get ahead. Just makes sense. Besides, you’re not doing it for the paycheck or the benefits, but for the children.

    Also, after spending more than 6 years as an IT professional for a Fortune500 company, I can tell you that my pay and benefits are not anywhere near what people think it is. I spent 5 years in school, paying for specialized courses, paying for additional certifications, continuing my education…and I make just over the ‘median household’. I have to pay significant portions of my insurance, basically all of my retirement, and effectively won’t be able to retire till I’m at least 60, and more likely 65 or older. When do teachers generally retire? At 60? I don’t think so…

    Let’s talk very generally about a average teacher who started at 25 to keep things simple:
    They want to retire early at the age of 57 after 32 years of service. They will receive 100% of their pension according to http://www.wisconsin.edu/hr/benefits/retsav/early.htm

    They have (at that point) no benefit to work anymore, they effectively lose money each year they work – as their time should be considered more valuable than a few hundred dollars a year. Hell, you could retire at 55 and only lose roughly 10%. Get a greeter job at WalMart and you’ve got that covered and then some.

    Speaking of early retirement, I RARELY saw teachers who were into their 60′s…and most of the time they came back because the districts begged them to since they couldn’t find qualified candidates. There’s a sheer flood of people out there who are teachers by education – but an insane amount of them are not qualified. Many of them still become teachers, and drive poor performing districts into the ground.

    Weigh in the forgiveness of student debt, earlier retirement, lack of volatility in heathcare expenses, and I don’t see how it’s not universally accepted that teaching can be a quick and rewarding career.

    I put in my extra hours unpaid doing things for local schools, businesses, clubs, non-profits…I donate significantly to charities, both local and regional. I also log a minimum of 40 hours a week, ranging up to over 70 in the office. This doesn’t include the on-call nature of IT work where I must be available 24/7 – I’ve even taken a support call while I took a long-weekend vacation in Vegas. We all choose our fields, and weigh what makes it worthwhile. If you chose teaching because you didn’t care about the pay, then I’d think you would be pleasantly surprised in the end to see a nice retirement, cool benefits, and the opportunity to relax for more than 2 or 3 weeks TOTAL out of the year.

    BTW, many professionals (specifically in IT) have continuing education as well – it’s called “keeping up with the times”. We must constantly read and learn about new methods to do this better. None of this is paid – sure I can get some money from my employer to get a masters degree, but what does that really get me? Honestly, nothing. A fancy diploma…some letters by my name? What gets me something is spending time out of work doing my own education…just to remain in my position. I pay my own way to conferences and release sessions, since all these things are rarely paid for by employers anymore. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars of my pay is directed at just keeping me viable for my job. Just like teachers.

    -RJ

    • MPR says:

      Thank you, RJ! Yes, teachers (and firefighters and police, but everyone’s making this about teachers) are special people, but I’ve wanted to SCREAM the following for the last couple of weeks:

      1) You are not the only ones who have to work extra hours without compensation (and the rest of us don’t get summers off)

      2) The rest of us have to continue our education as well, and we can get fired without notice even if we do.

      3) Most importantly: If you can work for 20 years and retire, receiving 82% of your last salary until you die, DO NOT compare your salary to mine. It’s insulting.

    • J Fred says:

      RJ,
      You need to get a different IT job…both my step-daughter and daughter-in-laws are ITs and they don’t work near the hours you do, nor do they pay out for their additional education (their employers cover that) and both make well over I do as an educator. As a matter of fact, my step-daughter works four 10-hour days a week and when her day is done….it is done. Therefore, she has the equivalent of 12 weeks of vacation per year (1 day x 50 weeks + 2 weeks vacation = 12 weeks per year)…..with significantly higher pay.

      In regard to student loan forgiveness…that is only true for some teachers who received their loan payments after October 1998. Those who graduated prior to that do not qualify. I paid for all of my education out of my own pocket until I ran out of money. It wasn’t until then that i took out a student loan….unsubsidized….of which I am required to pay back 100% of it with interest. And….even without this incentive of loan forgiveness, I still chose to work in inner city schools for my entire career.

      By the way, as an IT do you contribute to your own paycheck? As a state employee, I am required to do this. You see, the same taxes that you pay that go toward my salary I am required to pay was well.

      • rj says:

        No, as I said, we all make choices as to what we feel is acceptable. I think my choice of a place of employment was a good one. I have almost 0% chance of getting laid-off…they have much better benefits than I’m guessing your step-daughter and daughter-in-laws get, and my long hours reward me in ways beyond money. I do what I do, because I enjoy it and get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Which should be the same reason people teach.

        As for the financial aid and forgiveness of loans, I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect. I worked for 3 years in the financial aid office of my university – you can still get your some of your student loans forgiven before 1998. As you only qualified for unsubsidized loans, you must have had some significant reportable contributions to your education. Whether your parents made too much and didn’t help, isn’t really a point of discussion on this…needless to say, if you graduated before ’98, and qualified for still the minimum federal aid, you shouldn’t be sitting on 100k of student loans like people are now.

        I applaud you for chosing to work where you do, most people wouldn’t. That, again, isnt’ the point of the post however. You made the choices you did, and you should (sounds like you are) be proud of it and happy for what you do.

        Sure IT I do contribute to my own pay check. I work for a mutual company which only pays me based on my work which provides higher returns on the investments for which I support the systems. If my system doesn’t work, or works inefficiently, then yes – I lose money on my paycheck…as we all have the last few years. When the ‘company’ receives less income, they don’t give out merit increases, bonuses, anything. That’s comparable to how the state works as well.

        If you want to delusion yourself that your input into the state taxes pays your income, then be my guest. You pay for the exact same “services” that the state provides to everyone. Just because you can’t teach yourself doesn’t mean you don’t use the same services as everyone else. Stop using that argument, it doesn’t work. Besides, since teachers “make so little”, you must not even be in the same tax bracket as I am…so, by default I’m paying MORE for the same services you are…and according to your argument, MORE for your salary than you are.

        -RJ

  29. EMaster says:

    I read most of the post in this page. What the Gov. should do is to assign the money to the students and let the parents take their students wherever the want to. I do not mind teachers making money, but I believe they should pay their fair share when it comes to benefit as the rest of us in the private sector.

    Some of the post states that teachers have to earn a degree and continue to learn afterwards. That statement is crazy to me since the private sector employees have to continue to learn and master their skills as well.

    I am not a union guy because I believe they are very destructive to labor markets; however I don’t believe the Gov. should remove their abilities to organize and bargain. I believe all deals between the unions and and the public should be made public (posted online and debated) one month before any action is taking on the agreement. So, the public may have a chance to see what they are paying for.

    Public teachers as the rest of the labor force should be able to make as much money as their skills allowed, but should not receive a different pension than their 401k salary unless one (401k) does not exist .

  30. Ryan Stropes says:

    Is anyone going to mention they are off for almost 3 months so you can prorate that. If they teach summer school (which they will still get a few weeks extra vacation) they will make more or taking up another job.

  31. JR says:

    J Fred hope your not a math teacher!! So maybe teachers shouldnt have to pay taxes, cause thats your own wages huh? And YOU teach??? I do believe public “service” employees have a misconception on the private sector. One they compare their jobs to the best benefits in the best companies, be nice if we all could work for Microsoft!
    Two: they compare them based on education, they dont compare the risks involved. I have 4 years of college, but also three quaters of a million invested into a small business. Ever take money out of your pocket to make payroll? Ever work 6 days a week? How about never taking more that 2 weeks vacation? How about contribution 100% to your retirement? And 100% to your medical insuraance? Welcome to the REAL WORLD

    • J Fred says:

      Dear JR,

      You ask: “Ever take money out of your pocket to make payroll?” No
      You ask: “And 100% to your medical insuraance (spelling error – insurance)?” No

      You state: “So maybe teachers shouldnt (contraction, missing apostrophe) have to pay taxes, cause (slang – because) thats (contraction, missing apostrophe) your own wages huh?” Well…you just might have an idea. I pay less in taxes, my pay is reduced, and since my pay is reduced, you don’t have to contribute as much either. Problem solved, huh?….lol

      You state: “I do believe public “service” employees have a misconception on the private sector.” Well…wrong again…in my case at least. I worked longer in the private sector (24 years) than in the public sector (11 years). Therefore, I have experience in both worlds and can therefore comment (based on experience versus conjecture) on both sectors. I worked in the private sector from age 16 to age 40 at which time I began teaching.

      You ask: “Ever work 6 days a week?” Yes. From the ages of 30 through 42 I was either working full-time & going to school part-time or working part-time and going to school full time in order to obtain an Associates Degree in Sign Language Interpreting, then a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, and finally, a Master’s in Teaching and Curriculum…all the while raising a family. I am no stranger to hard work nor do I shy away from it. (Business owners aren’t the only hard workers in this country.) In addition, I have worked seven days a week for the past eleven school years (I guess that’s one of those private sector misconceptions that teachers only work the hours they are required to be in the building and never do any work at home…..especially in the summer)

      You ask: “How about never taking more that 2 weeks vacation?” Yes, every job I had from ages 16 through 40 offered zero weeks for the first year and then ONE WHOLE week per year after that until you reached your 5th year at which time you earned a 2nd week.

      You ask: “How about contribution (I think you meant contributing) 100% to your retirement?” Yes, again. I was self-employed as an interpreter for six years and had to pay quarterly taxes, self-employment tax, and contribute 100% to my own retirement in the form of IRAs. As a matter of fact, I continue to pay into my own retirement accounts because I don’t believe the 10% that is currently deducted from my paycheck will be there when it is time for me to retire.

      You state: “hope your (spelling error – you’re) not a math teacher!!” HAHAHA….I am, and I’m well aware of how figures and statistics can be manipulated to paint the picture that you want to be painted. Political & business advertisements utilize this strategy to convince people to vote their way or buy their products all the time. Politicians are using it right now to try to turn everyone against unions. The governor’s who are claiming that the unions are the sole cause for their states’ budget woes are forgetting that there are 11 NON-union states in this country that also have multi-million dollar deficit problems. Since they can’t blame their public SERVANTS I wonder who they are blaming.

      I applaud you for starting a business and taking that risk. However, you (and most business owners) forget that your employees are taking a risk by choosing to work for you versus working for another company. Can you or any company guarantee that their workers will have a job in one year, two years, 10 years? Of course not. So, wherever there is no guarantee there exists risk. If your business goes under, you are not the only one left with nothing. All of your employees will be in the same sinking boat with you. Zero percent in income is still zero percent whether it is based on your three quarter million dollar investment or your workers’ 40 hours per week. So, since you have to “take money out of your pocket to make payroll” I feel safe in assuming that without your workers you could not sustain the business on your own. Hmmmm…I guess you need each other.

      By the way….what’s the median salary/wage of your employees? Do you offer them a living wage or are you just using them to keep your business afloat?

  32. darkskinned says:

    So, your whole analysis is based on comparing average WI INDIVIDUAL teacher salary to WI median HOUSEHOLD income?

    what’s funny is all this “discussion” about that too.

    Also, where exactly did you get the Average for the whole of Wisconsin for teacher salary? I don’t see that anywhere.

  33. arnie L. says:

    they said that the teachers rais don’t cover the increase in inflation. what inflation/ according to the president there is no inflation, so they shouldn’t get a raise. haven’t got a s.s. raise is 2 years,because of no inflation according to YOUR LEADER.every body else gets a raise.. make less then 15 grand a year and suppose to live on it, and pay your supplement insurance, let the teachers try to do this or any goverment employees. these people have to many TOYS.can’t get free stuff because make to much. what a joke. it isn’t i want any ,but the system is all wrong. it needs a complete overhall like the goverment. too much spending and too many CHIEFS and not enough indians, so the saying goes

  34. Ken says:

    Hearing more rhetoric about how teachers are actually underpaid gets so old. Comparing household income to teachers salary , come on, really! Teachers are paid based on years of experience and amount of education, neither of which have anything to do with being a good teacher. Our system is filled with very bad teachers making $60 +K per year and very good teachers making $30 k per year. It is not right, teachers should be paid on merit, not tenure. When an average teacher makes almost $60k in my district it works out to over $40/hour with benefits galore to boot. I don’t have a problem with teachers making a good salary but do have a problem hearing how they are screwed by the public. Salary and benefits exceed $100k for most. Teachers go back for continuing education not to become a better teacher but just for the increased payscale. You say everyone goes to school for better pay, but where can you go to school part time and get a degree and have your pay jump in your current position with no actual change in qualifications in your job? It is not reality in the real world, and funny how trying to repair this gets labeled as attacking the working families. Working families would kill for these deals, but they would never happen in the private economy because it would break companies just like it is breaking our state. Time to wake up folks!

  35. J Fred says:

    Arnie……I sympathize with you in that your s.s. only provides $15K a year for you to live on. In this economy, that must make it incredibly hard for you to meet your bills. However, I’m not sure how s.s. income and a person who is required (in my state) to obtain a Master’s degree income can be compared with each other. Am I understanding you correctly? Do you believe that teachers should $15K because that’s the amount that your are forced to live with?

    By the way, President Obama (“YOUR LEADER”) doesn’t decide whether inflation has occurred or not. There is a formula that is used to calculate the rate of inflation that OUR nation’s leader had nothing to do with creating. So to blame him for your lack of increase in s.s. is ill founded at best.

    • The pension issue has never been mathematically addressed so it could be discussed in an intelligent manner. How many total years does the average state worker work, and how many years do they then get a state pension for, on average.

      On top of that, how does the federal social security factor in? Is the state employee getting two pensions once they turn 65, or 67? Does the state pension start at an earlier age then the federal pension?

      I would love to see a factual accounting of the related numbers between state pension, federal pension, accrued vacation days, and how many years the state employee worked to get those benefits, so they can be intelligently discussed.

  36. J Fred says:

    Arnie……I sympathize with you in that your S.S. only provides $15K a year for you to live on. In this economy, that must make it incredibly hard for you to meet your bills. However, I’m not sure how S.S. income and a teacher’s income (a profession that requires a Master’s degree in my state) can be compared with each other. Am I understanding you correctly, do you believe that teachers should make $15K annually because that’s the income that you are forced to live with?

    By the way, President Obama (“YOUR LEADER”) doesn’t decide whether inflation has occurred or not. There is a formula that is used to calculate the rate of inflation that OUR nation’s leader had nothing to do with creating. So to blame him for your lack of increase in S.S. is ill-founded at best.

    • I think it is fair to say that once Barack Obama committed such a huge portion of funding to stimulus programs, there was no money to offer any kind of an S.S. percentage increase, FOR TWO YEARS IN A ROW now.

      Barack Obama knows the most important voters are the younger voters because he can get them for two terms while gaining younger voters for the first time, whereas the older voters just die off.

      • J Fred says:

        I believe the stimulus began with President Bush and the first installment to Wall Street. You remember Wall Street right. Where CEO’s are god and they all deserve huge bonuses even though they run companies into the ground. And then they used the taxpayers stimulus money to fund those huge bonuses on the guise that they EARNED them because they have such awesome leadership skills. Talk about ENTITLEMENT!!! Ooopss, I forgot…entitlement is a word that is reserved only for those at the bottom of the class pool. You know…those who dare to draw welfare (because their corporate bosses decided to outsource jobs Americans used to hold here in this country), or expect Social Security compensation IN ADDITION to Medicare benefits…..My, how greedy they are.

        In regard to our nation’s President… do you blame him for Japan’s Tsunami as well? He seems to take to the blame for all unpleasantness…why not for this too?

  37. brad says:

    this is hilarious. people trying to compare two incomes to one. I sure hope there aren’t any teachers on here defending this pathetic article. I know there won’t be any math teachers, but the others…not so sure.

  38. James says:

    Its sad when people want to fuck the teachers. I don’t care what they make, they influence and guide our CHILDREN. They put in their time in school, earning often a masters or a professors degree so they SHOULD make more.

    If people are mad that teachers have it so easy, then guess what? Become a fucking teacher then, put in 5 or 6 years in College…oh yeah you won’t because you’re too fucking lazy. Shut the fuck up.

    • rj says:

      must have received quality education…i’m assuming from your wide vocabulary of course.

      i’m sure your teachers taught you this kind of respect and discussion skills? doubt it.

      parents should get paid more i would think (/sarcasm) – since they are the largest influence and guide on children…or, should be. teachers should show up, do their thing, and be done. just because more PARENTS are lazy and start dumping their responsibilities on teachers doesn’t mean teachers should work more, or get paid more or anything more. society has changed the focus, and is really behind most of these problems, but we can’t “fix” society nor make any major alterations to it immediately. something else has to budge.

      an awful lot of people did put in 5 or 6 years in college – and are tired of seeing unions tear apart and divide friends and families. it’s stupid. they’re also tired of seeing a “class” of workers get more than they should – and are paying for it. it’s quite simple really.

      -RJ

    • Phalen says:

      James,

      I think your teachers must have been overpaid since they clearly did not instruct you on how to behave in a polite society and that dropping f-bombs all over the place is not how adults should act.

      By the way, I’m not sure where exactly anyone states that teachers have it easy. Teching is a job, just like any other. By all accounts, Wisconsin teachers are doing just fine. They make roughly $50,000 per year with a long break in the summer. Wih $50k being average, and $25k being the entry level pay, simple math tells us many teachers are probably making $60k to $70k that includes a pension and health insurance that they contribute very little to. Oh, and they live in Wisconsin which I assume has a low cost of living.

  39. Justme says:

    I am finding the conversation ironic. One of the repeated arguments seems to be that the median family income of a married pair of teachers should, on average, make no more than the median income of a 2 person family in Wisconsin.

    Now according to the data presented the average income of a 4 year college graduate in a private sector job is $65,000 not including compensation, and $82,000 including compensation. Teachers are required to have that sort of college degree but do not make near that average. If though, we require teachers pay be of the level that a married pair of teachers have the same average as the states average income for a 2 person family, that means that their average income should be ($51,000/2) = $26,500 (before compensations). That though is less than a high school graduate which has an average income of about $36,000 before compensation. Heck it’s about same as the average income for a high school dropout which is about $24,500. The solution is obvious: college educated teachers are too expensive; do not expect to hire college graduates as your teachers. For the price you want to pay you should be hiring high school dropouts to teach in your schools.

  40. Brian says:

    Jenna,

    Your argument still does not make sense, This comparison is using a household income vs, a single teacher salary. If 2 teachers were in a houshold, their income would be nearly double the average household income. I hope that you are not an educator. If you are we are getting ripped off.

  41. Brian says:

    I don’t think tgeachers enter their profession for the money. It is a self sacrificing profession. They are doing it for the children. If they wanted to make larger sums of money they would have obviously chose a different profession. I don’t think any body made a secret pact that promised untold wealth. What about priests. They require an education as well. Priests need to unite & form a union. Go on strike & hold out for the wages you deserve. There is a much larger demand than supply of priests, teachers can you say that? No, I didn’t think so. Did you ever see a teachers salary at a parochial school. It is at least half that of a public school teacher.

  42. J Fred says:

    Parochial school teachers (in some states) are not required to obtain the same degrees and licensure as those in the public sector, therefore this comparison doesn’t hold water.
    In addition, your comparison of priests to teachers isn’t fair either since all the priests that I know (went to parochial schools for 10 years) had their room and board provided to them by the Diocese as they live in rectories. Therefore, priests do not have to take on the same bills that a teacher or any lay person must.

  43. J says:

    Mr. Konczal, it’s clear you know full well the statistical facts and are cynically leading people to an invalid conclusion. Shame on you.

  44. Pingback: GOP Rep. Sean Duffy ‘struggles’ on only $174,000 per year « Scotties Toy Box

  45. Julie says:

    @MequonJack….considering you have no respect for the teaching profession (as was made evident in your response…”Tired of teachers trying to compare themselves to accountants, engineers and other professions”), I would then suggest you teach your own kids as I’m sure you’d do a much better job. I’ve worked in both the private sector (24 years) and public sector (11 years)…and I’ve come to realize that all jobs have their pros and cons and everyone works very hard to put food on their tables….Teachers included!

  46. jack gott says:

    No respect for most teachers? COUNT ME IN !
    They’re neither priests nor saints….they’re getting paid well for a job done poorly.
    In real dollars, since 1970 we’ve increased teacher pay by 265%, and performance has plummeted. In any other job category, they would all be fired, but they’ve seized control of the political process, in open acknowledgement that objective review of job performance would land them all at the unemployment office.
    Teachers, if you don’t like the pay GO GET ANOTHER JOB.
    Teachers, if you want to be paid, you have to be subject to objective job performance review JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.
    Teachers, if you want to be taken seriously as a “profession”, then you have to enforce quality standards JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PROFESSION. You can’t get a “gold star retirement” just for showing up (in the way you’ve programmed children for mediocrity for the last 20 years).
    But mainly: GROW THE HELL UP.

  47. Bob says:

    To Everyone—the solution to your overbloated education system is simple,get a computer for your child and have them go to school on-line.Education is available for both private and public school kids,probably better then what they recieve now.It would take fewer teachers to teach more students and the taxpayers would be better off,change is needed to this neanderthal public education system

  48. HonkyTonkBaDonkaDonk says:

    Simpy put, you think teachers are doing a crappy job? Get a degree and become a teacher yourself or STFU. How many actaully volunteer at a school to help out a teacher? Probably not too many.

    I love those of you who complain that teachers have summers off. Whose fault is that? Not the teachers, it the legislature, they set up the school hours so blame them not the teachers.

    Those who complain about their salaries and benefits….well guess what, those were negotiated contracts, thats right, negotiated by two sides, not just one….so STFU about that one too.

    What about bankers? Those SOB have holidays and weekends off to. Sometime three day weekends. They must be overpaid also huh?

    Lets not forget all those Federal Employees who work in Wisconsin, they get 10 holidays off a year also, with PAY!! Bunch of dam crooks. Getting paid for not working.

    You want gold star performance, well tell little Johnny to pay attention in school, tell him to quit hitting other kids, listen to the teacher. Teach your kids respect for their elders. Teacher cant get rid of the your problem child and still have to teach the kids that want to be their.

    Bad Parents are more of a problem than bad teachers.

    You dont like the jobs teachers are doing and think the pay is so great and having summers off, i will say it again, go to school, get a degree and become a teacher yourself or STFU……either that or flunk out of school twice and become governor and be in charge of a whole state instead of 25 kids, that job evidently doesnt require a college eduction or degree.

  49. cjshaker says:

    If you are curious about the pay of the average Wisconsin resident, you can find it here

    http://www.ers.usda.gov/StateFacts/WI.HTM

    In 2009, the average rural Wisconsin resident only made $32,706

    Chris Shaker

  50. ryanz says:

    Teachers in WI make much much more than the average college educated worker once you factor in pension, healthcare and other benefits. If you factor in compensation for hours worked teachers are FAR FAR better paid. On top of this applicants to the UW-School of education are in the bottom third in SAT scores-hate to say it but not too academically challenging to be a teacher relative to most other majors. I love teachers- we need them- my family contains many. However, no doubt they are very richly paid for the work they do. In a free market,they could be replaced at half the costs. Keep their salaries as they are but drop the pensions-take a 401k (403b) like the rest of us. They are entitled to their salaries but the pensions are unsustainable and unrealistic.

  51. Dan Pavelich says:

    Anyone who thinks that teachers get three months off a year is mistaken. During the school year, a teacher’s day begins long before the students arrive and often doesn’t end until evening, when papers are graded or materials are prepared for the following day. The amount of time spent fielding calls from parents should also be factored in. My wife’s a teacher and I know firsthand that parents think nothing of calling you at 9:00pm and talking to you for an hour. They’re also responsible for closing their classroom at the end of the year and then preparing everything at the end of the summer. So, that seven hour workday that people think teachers are overpaid for, is really a ten or twelve hour day, with a work schedule that runs long after your kids are on summer vacation and begins a month before they return.

  52. Luke says:

    This article misses the obvious point that “household” is not the same thing as an individual. On average, households are made up of more than one person, each of whom may or may not have a job. Therefore, the average “household” is more than one person’s income averaged into the final number. To say that an average teacher makes slightly less than the average potentially multiple income HOUSEHOLD is a horrible argument to employ to defend teacher salary stats. Why do they deserve to make as much as a household?

  53. Wendy Phelps says:

    So tired of the teacher bashing from all of the armchair educators. Give me specific examples of how teachers are doing such a poor job…. what exactly does that mean?? Please remember that teachers are working with students who make choices about how they act in school, completing homework, etc. They don’t get to choose which children they teach, they take them all.

  54. Julie says:

    Did anyone seem to mention that a teaching position is a 9 months a year job which can’t be compared to professionals that average 42 to 45 hours a week most weeks of the year and frequently holidays. Perhaps we should redo the math at an hourly rate.

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