Blogs > Daily Local Dan

A blog that takes a look at West Chester area government, politics, and community events.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How much should public school teachers earn?

My Feb. 24 article on the West Chester Area School Board's recent reaction to the PSERS crisis led a number of online commentors to debate how much public school teachers ought to be paid. This is not surprising - the teacher pay debate arises nearly every time we write an article that touches on school district budgets.

Since the article appeared, I've also gotten a number emails about teachers pay - one person, who was unhappy with how high teachers' pensions are, told me: "I hope that you live and own in one of the districts that your property and earned income taxes make you realize that owners are now renters."

I, too, wish I earned enough to be able to buy a house.

Anyway, there is a vocal collection of commentors who think public school teachers should be earning far less than they are now earning. And the tenor of their comments hints that that they don't think teaching public school is a very respectable profession.

So, how much should public school teachers earn? And, is teaching public school a respectable profession? These are not rhetorical questions. I invite you to answer them by leaving comments under this blog post.

Below is a sampling of the teacher pay related comments that my Feb. 24 article generated.

wcnative wrote on Feb 24, 2010 11:09 AM: "Pay for public employees whose jobs are rarely at risk for layoffs used to be somewhat lower than equivalent private-sector jobs, because of that job security. That is no longer true for many, many public employees, especially teachers, who enjoy great pay, great benefits, and generous paid time off. Teachers should think how this looks to continue to demand pay and benefits that are out of line with those of the taxpayers."

realnews wrote on Feb 24, 2010 2:31 PM: "wcnative: What teacher gets generous paid time off? As I know it teachers are contracted to work a set number of days. You might be confused of their time off when they are not under contract and are not being paid. The only reason many teachers receive pay checks in the summer is because they have allowed the districts to withhold money during the year instead of receiving their fully earned compensation."

MisterWoo wrote on Feb 24, 2010 3:30 PM: "Withhold salary or not, the fact remains that the typical middle/high school teacher in PA is grossly overpaid. If the system were fair, they'd all be required to start paying money back to the state upon retirement."

nomorecville wrote on Feb 25, 2010 12:28 PM: "right out of college and you can make $40K per year, who is complaining that that is not enough money for a 22 year old."

[Side note: If public schools were funded solely by a personal income tax, much of this bitterness might go away. Even better - for the purposes of my argument - if local school districts lost the power to tax. If the state collected school taxes at an even rate from all Pennsylvania residents, and then gave local districts a flat amount of money for each pupil they taught, the debate over school taxes would change completely. No one would complain about being "taxed out" of expensive districts, public schools in Philadelphia and Lower Merion would have the same amount of money to spend per pupil, and all Pennsylvanians would be in this together. That would be my comment, if I left comments.]

Labels: ,