Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported

Agresti, J. D. (2018, April 17). Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported. Retrieved from
Agresti, James D. “Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported.” Just Facts. 17 April 2018. Web. 21 September 2020.<>.
Chicago (for footnotes)
James D. Agresti, “Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported.” Just Facts. April 17, 2018.
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Agresti, James D. “Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported.” Just Facts. April 17, 2018.

By James D. Agresti
April 17, 2018

During recent teacher walkouts in Oklahoma that captured national attention, many major media outlets reported misleadingly small figures for teacher pay. By failing to reveal all aspects of teacher compensation, these outlets hid the true costs to taxpayers—which now amount to an annualized average of about $120,000 for every public school teacher in the United States.

CNN, for example, published an article by Bill Weir claiming that in “most districts” of Oklahoma, “a teacher with a doctorate degree and 30 years’ experience will never make more than $50,000 a year.” That claim, which CNN neglected to document, is at odds with comprehensive data from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. This information for Oklahoma and the entire nation follows.

For the 2016–17 school year, the Department of Education reports that the average salary of full-time public school teachers was $58,950 in the U.S. and $45,245 in Oklahoma. Those figures generally exclude benefits, such as health insurance, paid leave, and pensions. These are typically much higher for government employees than private sector workers.

According to the Department of Labor, benefits comprise an average of 33% of compensation for public school teachers. Including benefits, teachers’ average annual compensation jumps to $87,854 in the U.S. and about $67,429 in Oklahoma. This excludes unfunded pension liabilities and certain post-employment benefits like health insurance, which are not measured by the Department of Labor.

That, however, still doesn’t tell the complete story, because full-time private industry employees work an average of 37% more hours per year than full-time public school teachers. This includes the time that teachers spend for lesson preparation, test construction and grading, providing extra help to students, coaching, and other activities. Unlike less rigorous studies, this data from the Department of Labor is based on detailed records of work hours instead of subjective estimates about how long people think they work.

Accounting for the disparity between the annual work hours of full-time public school teachers and full-time private industry workers, the average annualized cost of employing teachers in the 2016–17 school year was $120,578 per teacher in the U.S. and about $92,545 in Oklahoma. Again, this doesn’t include certain post-employment benefits.

There is yet more to this picture, because the costs of living vary between states. Adjusted for this, the average annualized immediate compensation of Oklahoma teachers in 2016–17 was about $102,943, or roughly twice what CNN says “a teacher with a doctorate degree and 30 years’ experience will never make” in “most districts” of Oklahoma.

Furthermore, a few days before the walkouts began, the state of Oklahoma passed a law raising the average salary of teachers by $6,100.

Education Spending in Context

Nationally representative polling data suggests that the media has serially misinformed voters about the costs of public schools.

According to the latest Department of Education data, governments in the U.S. spend an average of $13,119 per year for every student enrolled in K–12 public schools. Adjusted for inflation, this spending has risen by 22 times since 1919, and it omits three significant categories of education expenses:

  • State government administration.
  • Unfunded pension liabilities.
  • Post-employment non-pension benefits (like health insurance).

Given that the average class size in U.S. public schools is 24 students, spending per classroom in the 2014–15 school year averaged about $315,000. Yet, a nationally representative poll commissioned in 2017 by Just Facts found that 49% of voters think the average spending per public school classroom is less than $150,000 per year. This is lower than half the actual amount.

Likewise, a 2017 poll commissioned by the journal Education Next and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found that the average adult believes their local public schools spend $8,877 per student. This is 32% less than the U.S. average.

Journalists create misperceptions of school spending when they avoid straightforward data and cherry-pick baselines to make comparisons. Caitlin Emma of Politico, for example, writes: “Since 2008, about 28 percent of [Oklahoma] state per pupil funding, adjusted for inflation, has been cut, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a think tank.” By not reporting the actual spending and by choosing 2008 as a baseline—which happens to mark the highest year for education spending in the history of the U.S.—she leaves a glaringly false perception in the minds of her readers.

Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and an early visionary of public education, wrote that “the diffusion of knowledge among the people” is the only “sure foundation” for the “preservation of freedom and happiness.” Thus, when media outlets misinform people about education, they thwart the very purpose of education.

54 thoughts on “Public School Teachers Are Paid Far More Than Commonly Reported

  1. The cost of employing teachers might be $120k per teacher, but that doesn’t mean the teachers see $120k, or anything close to it. I recall from the example of the New Jersey teachers union that much of the money goes to administrative costs (overhead).

    • Actually, teachers see all of it in one form or another, whether it be in salaries, healthcare, vacation time, pensions, etc.

      The teacher compensation data in this article does not include administrative costs or overhead. Those costs are above and beyond the costs of employing teachers.

  2. Then let me ask you this… if that is the case, why do so many teachers throughout our country have 2 jobs? Have you ever taught? Spend a year in the classroom – a full year teaching 5-6 classes a day, and then write your article….

    • Teachers sometimes have other jobs for the same reasons that people in other professions do. Furthermore, they typically have more time for other jobs, because teaching requires less average work hours per year than other full-time careers.

      Department of Education data shows that salaries from non-school sources average only 2.7% of public school teachers’ total salaries. The facts and math for the 2015-16 school year are as follows:

      • Teachers earned an average salary from school and non-school sources of $59,050.
      • 17.9% of teachers had a job outside the school system during the school year, and among them, the average salary was $5,140.
      • 15.9% of teachers had a non-school job during the summer, and among them, the average salary was $4,060.

      Thus: ((.179 * $5,140) + (.159 * $4,060)) / $59,050 = 2.7%

      Taking benefits into account, this 2.7% figure would likely be much lower, but the Department of Education does not publish benefit data for teachers’ non-school jobs.

    • If you deal with facts rather than fiction the answer about some teachers working two jobs is very evident.

      The answer is that if you go to a school calendar and compute days worked you will see that compared to most other workers in private and public jobs teaching is a part time job.

      Schools are closed for Spring,Summer,Holiday breaks along with several Holidays which are not celebrated by private sector except maybe for banks.When schools are closed teachers do not work but others do–when teachers have a second job they are just working the same schedule as the great majority of non teachers
      My wife was a teacher in NY and Florida so I am very familiar with teacher work schedules and you are apparently not.

    • i know a lot of teachers at the start of their careers and even experienced teachers with Masters degrees sell their blood at the Plasma center twice a week and also drive uber for extra income. What is the cost of child care for full time married teachers with two children per year?

  3. Yes it’s true, teachers do make substantial money and as a result they benefit in the following manner:
    1. They have the pleasure of pursuing a masters degree, at a cost they are unlikely to recoup from the pittance of a raise they receive for obtaining a higher degree. A degree they will need if they have the desire and ambition to move up in the educational structure to counselor, assistant principal etc…
    2. They have the privilege of paying for 100 or close to 100% of their own health insurance with little or no contribution by the school district or state. Don’t dare think about adding dependents the cost becomes so prohibitive.
    3. Since teachers are part of a “pension” system, they are not eligible to receive their spouses Social Security benefits should the spouse precede them in death. That’s right, as a spouse if I work for 50 years and pay into SS and die before my spouse she will receive zero amount of my accumulated benefits.
    4. Extra jobs, what a fun way to spend your summer. Retailers are running all over to grab up teachers to have them work a minimum wage job when they know they’ll only be there for 2 to 3 months. A teacher with a college education or masters degree should not have to say “welcome to Walmart” in order to make ends meet,
    5. To supplement their income most teachers will take on additional jobs at school to obtain the almighty lucrative stipend for coaching, band or department head positions that might provide them with an additional $1,500 a year while taking them away from their families.
    6. Plus when is enough enough regarding compensation. It’s a warped mentality when “performers” and “sports figures” can make $10, $20 million a year, some of them without earning a high school educations.

    Teachers like policemen and other compensated state and local employees, are truly remarkable individuals who are in their respective fields because it’s a calling, a vocation. They do it more for their own self satisfaction in knowing they are trying to make a difference in the formation of a young impressionable student.

    You can quote me all the figures you want, but before you believe teachers are properly compensated spend some time at a school in a class and see just what these remarkable and dedicated individuals deal with on a day-to-day basis. Then come back and offer your best argument teachers are adequately compensated.

    • You said it all, Steve Adams. I’m not personally a secondary school educator but I come from a family of them. I’m a retired college coach. Not many jobs I’ve had where I was on the hook for any paper, pens, or- in some cases- toilet paper that I may need.

    • Steve Adams, You are wrong about the following point and others: “They have the privilege of paying for 100 or close to 100% of their own health insurance with little or no contribution by the school district or state.” To the contrary, the same government sources cited in this article show that K-12 public school teachers receive average annual employer-funded insurance benefits of $10,015 per teacher. In addition, taxpayers provide teachers with retirement health insurance benefits that are typically far greater than private-sector workers.

      Many private-sector workers are also “truly remarkable individuals who are in their respective fields because it’s a calling,” and they pay taxes that fund the compensation of government employees who make more than they do. These costs are enormous. In 2016, federal, state and local governments spent $1.9 trillion on employee compensation. This amounts to an average of $15,176 from every household in the United States, or more than average household spending on food, utilities, clothes, and household furnishings combined.

      Incidentally, a 2001 survey found that “59 percent of federal workers say securing a paycheck was more important than doing something worthwhile, 65 percent say job security was more important than helping the public, and 66 percent say job security was more important than pride in the organization they joined.” Furthermore, “only 30 percent believe their organization does a very or somewhat good job of disciplining poor performers.”

      • I pay a huge portion into my own pension. The state and school district also pays into my pension taxpayers do not pay all of my pension by a long shot. I cannot contribute to Social Security and I won’t even be allowed to get my SS benefits (from my other non-teaching jobs) when I retire BECAUSE I am a teacher. I pay much of my own healthcare. It would be double what I pay if I had dependents. I, like other workers, pay taxes that pay for services other workers benefit from such as tax incentives for businesses to move into the state, which is why some of those other workers have jobs. My taxes also help pay for welfare, unemployment, and healthcare for others. Teachers deserve a living wage. They work with a classroom of up to about 30 students a day, individualizing instruction for each student along the way. They work very long days during the 36 week school year. Many times they don’t get evenings or weekends off because they are attending non-compensated school events or student events, or they are grading papers, working on instructional materials, inputting grades into a gradebook, planning lessons, etc. Don’t they have planning periods? Oh, yes. But these periods of 25 to 50 minutes a day are often filled with phone calls to parents, team-level planning, or meetings that the administration requires of their teachers. Often, teachers are asked to cover a class for other teachers who are in a parent conference or help out with a PTA event during their planning. Teachers provide a service to the state’s families: Teaching children from across all levels of the socio-economic spectrum without expecting exorbitant tuition. Instead, everyone pays taxes to help pay for the next generation’s education.
        That’s what a “free” public education means. Jefferson and Adams both agreed that this is necessary for a free republic: “The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it,” wrote Adams. “There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.” So if you’re not willing to pay for teachers to teach children, in addition to helping fund the necessary materials and services, then don’t expect public education to continue. You might as well say we pay too much via taxes to support transportation services or fire/police personnel. “[T]he tax which will be paid for this purpose [education] is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, 1786

        So, again, until you have experience in the classroom, don’t spout off about how teachers are paid too much. Teachers are very often paid too little for all of the work they do supporting the education of children through not only their service in the classroom but also the expenditures of their energy, their time away from family and personal pursuits, and, yes, even their own finances.

        • The fact that some teachers are exempt from Social Security is another benefit to them. Except for low-income workers, the program generally provides a low ratio of benefits to taxes, and it is beset by financial problems that will require significant tax increases and/or benefit decreases.

          Teacher pensions are typically far more generous than Social Security, and taxpayers contribute an annual average of $10,542 per teacher toward their pension and savings plans. This does not include unfunded pension liabilities that will fall on future taxpayers.

          When you write about “teaching children from across all levels of the socio-economic spectrum without expecting exorbitant tuition,” you are ignoring the fact that taxpayers foot the bill for this tuition. Their interests should also be considered, especially since inflation-adjusted public school spending per student has risen by 22 times since 1919 and is now about twice the average cost of private schools.

          • I can’t believe Timothy above is complaining about being free from Social Security. My dad worked in the school system and contributed to his retirement, just like Timothy, in place of social security that most of us are forced to pay for. The school paid a portion just like my employer paid into social security for me.

            When my dad retired, his payments from his retirement were substantially HIGHER than his highest salary. (compare that with Social security) and when he passed away, my brother and I got the cash he contributed… (compare that to social security)…

            Most of us would love to have this problem.

          • I cannot understand why anyone would say that being exempt from Social Security is a benefit when it is a liability—you end up with two pension plans instead of one and that is bad???

        • Give us a break. I DO work in a classroom, several of them, actually. And public schools DO expect exorbitant tuition, it is just taken by force from the taxpayers instead of charged to the families directly.

  4. I am a retired teacher and with 30 hours above my master’s degree and department chair pay, I didn’t make $50,000 until I reached my 29th year of teaching. Only administrators (principals and superintendents) make the kind of salaries you are talking about. I don’t know of any teachers in the tri-state area of Kentucky, Tennessee, or Virginia who make that kind of money. For that salary, I stayed at school until 5:30 or 6:00 everyday, graded papers at home of a couple of hours every night, and spent every weekend grading papers and preparing for the next week. I spent $500 – $1000 of my salary on supplies for my classroom every year and I regularly donated money to help kids who needed clothes, shoes, or school supplies. This is what most teachers do. Go spend some time with a teacher for about a week and you will have a much better idea of what goes on in schools and why teachers are fighting for raises, pensions, and for their public schools. Clearly, you have no idea.

    • Your claims, if true, are merely anecdotes. The facts in this article cover all public school teachers and come from credible, primary sources. Such data is far more revealing and credible than unsubstantiated, narrow assertions.

      Also, as demonstrated by comments above, some people are quick to spread falsehoods. Thus, everyone should be wary of undocumented claims.

      • You obviously have NOT checked the state department of education salary schedule for the various states, so don’t tell US teachers about spreading falsehoods and UNDOCUMENTED claims!

        • All of the facts in the article are documented with hyperlinks that ultimately lead to highly credible sources. This includes state-by-state average salaries from the U.S. Department of Education.

          This article reports averages, not universal rules. The fact that every teacher does not earn the same income is obvious. Note that teachers are not lobbying to distribute their pay more equally between them. They are lobbying for more pay.

  5. This is really good information, but it lacks context. By presenting average total compensation for teachers, you give the impression that teachers make more than people in similar professions. However, there’s nothing to indicate whether that is true or not. You should give comparisons with total compensation numbers for jobs with similar education requirements (adjusted for work hours if teachers work fewer hours than anyone comparable). Then we would know what those numbers actually mean.

    • Good question. It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison, because teachers differ from other college graduates in substantial ways. As documented by Duke University researcher Jonathan Wai, “teachers, have for at least the last seven decades been selected from students at the lower end of the academic aptitude pool.” Also, a 2011 paper in the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives found that education majors are subject to considerably “lower grading standards” than other college students.

      Nonetheless, if we ignore those differences and perform some rough calculations, full-time, year-round adult civilian workers with a bachelor’s degree had average cash earnings of $78,143 in 2016. In that year, non-earnings benefits accounted for 26.6% of the total compensation of private industry workers in management, professional, and related occupations. Thus, their total compensation was roughly:

      $78,143/(1-.266) = $106,462

      This compares to an annualized average of $120,578 for teachers.

      These figures assume that professionals work about the same hours per year as the average for all private industry employees. They also exclude unfunded pension liabilities and post-employment non-pension benefits (like health insurance), both of which are common in government and rare in the private sector.

      • How can you possibly “assume” that professionals which I assume that you mean teachers work about the same hours as private industry employees?
        Have you ever looked at a school calendar which shows the large number of days when schools are closed and teachers are not working?
        My wife taught school in NY and Florida and she was not working for 11 weeks a year when private sector workers were working.
        If you calculate teacher pay on an hourly basis using the number of hours they work you will see that they compare very favorably with others–see my comments below for further information

  6. The first claim I’m going to refute is VACATION PAY??????? in 30 years I never received the first cent of vacation pay and neither has any other teacher. And paid time off? Are you kidding me? I was paid for a 6 hour day, every day, but I worked a minimum of 8 hours. I was paid for 187 days and believe me, I worked more. There is no OT, no comp time, no stipends for all that professional development over the required 24 hours each year’s most of us end up doing, and that $20-30k masters degree I and every other teacher is required to obtain, almost paid for itself with $900 step raises up to 20 years experience, after that there are no raises in pay, no 20 minute work breaks, and for most of my 30 Years I ate WITH my children so there was no lunch break either.
    Normal labor laws do not apply to education.
    Teachers get a single health insurance plan, mostly paid for, however those workers at the local Firestone plant only pay half as much for the same plan, 10 sick days, they do accumulate, and recently 2 personal days. Shall we compare to private sector? My DIL made more at her first job in IT support with a boot camp coding degree than I made as a 30 Rank 1 educator. Her company paid her to volunteer in the community one day a month, after 6 months she received unlimited time off to volunteer, they have 2x years company retreats, she’s been promoted 2x in one year with pay raises.

    We won’t even go into my son’s pay, compensation and benefits with a business and IT degree, it’s not even in the same realm of reality.

    So the next time you want to go all Koch/ALEC on how over paid and compensated a profession is, why don’t you focus on the CEO packages of Financial, energy, Rx and major law firms. You should find truly eye-opening facts there.

    • When schools close for winter break, spring break, and the summer, most teachers are effectively on vacation. Furthermore, per the National Council on Teacher Quality, “Because of teachers’ unique work schedule, they generally do not receive ‘vacation days’ in the same way as most professional workers. Instead school districts provide their teachers with a certain number of sick leave days (the average being 11 days for large districts) as well as a limited number of days to address personal business (the average being 4). … Because many districts reimburse teachers for unused sick and/or personal leave, there are also costs associated with policies that allow teachers to use other kinds of leave in lieu of sick or personal.”

      This particular comment you made is revealing: “I was paid for a 6 hour day, every day, but I worked a minimum of 8 hours.” Like other professionals, teachers are paid to accomplish a mission, not just punch a time clock. Many professionals, myself included, work far more than that and do so more than five days per week.

      The rest of your claims were already debunked in the article and in my comments above.

      By the way, I never said that teachers are “overpaid.” I merely reported the facts on how much they are paid. No honest person should object to that.

  7. The following is a reply I got from a teacher whom I know and like when I “shared” the link to your article. Please take a minute to address his math as I don’t think I was covered in the article itself. (If possible, thanks) :

    I wish my wife and I each made that much.

    Several districts a while back when a large portion of the teachers were women that got benefits from there husbands negotiated with the district to put the cost of healthcare in the salary scale and Teachers could buy into a plan that was offered if they needed to. Not sure if they figured that type of situation into the story or assumed all districts pay included benefits on top of that.

    I do not pretend to understand all of the Economic Mumbo Jumbo in the report but what I am getting out of it is that the 120K is not a real number.

    If I am reading it correctly it sounds like they are taking the number of hours that they say a teacher is working (~1500) both during the school day and at home and the number of work days (~180) and adjusting the income including benefits to that same number of hours (~2000) during the work day and at home and number of work days per year (~250).

    Now if we just look at the number of working hours per year they say a average teacher does (I understand people a lot more edumacated than I did this study) I am just have a hard time with both those figures.

    Using their numbers, a teacher works on average a 6.7 hour day and ~179 teaching days (usually another 3 staff development days) that is about 1219.5 work hours per year. That would leave only about 280.5 hours of work done outside the school day. About 1.5 hours per day if if a teacher only works outside the school day on school days. Most teachers will work on weekends vacations (winter, spring summer etc), so if you figure those days in it works to less than 1 hour per day of extra. Sorry I just have a hard time accepting either of those number.

    While the those in private industry work about (~2050) hours per year including outside of the work day. Using a 8 hour work day and about 250 work days per year. It works out to about ~2000 leaving only about 50 per year for those that work outside the 8 hour day.

    Sorry I just have a hard time accepting either of those numbers.

    • Sure, I’d be happy to. The health insurance benefits quoted in this article and in my comments above include only those amounts paid directly by taxpayers. They do not include any contributions by teachers.

      With regard to work hours, public school teachers generally have a contract workday that begins and ends at specific times. Between these hours, they typically have a lunch period and another free period where they are not contractually required to work. However, many teachers use this time to prep lessons and grade tests. For example, in a school examined by Just Facts, the contract work day is 7.0 hours, but teachers receive a total of 1.5 hours for their lunch and free periods. Teachers also receive sick days and personal days, and schools typically have several half days throughout the year.

      Some studies have double-counted teacher work hours by asking them for the length of their contract workday and then adding to this their prep and grading time. This is flawed, because teachers often use their free periods during the contract workday to prep and grade. The data in this article accounts for all of the time that teachers actually work. Nothing more, nothing less.

      In addition to two Department of Labor studies on work hours cited in this article, Just Facts triple-checked the data by conducting a detailed time study of a very dedicated full-time public school teacher. All of these produced analogous results.

      The same points apply to private industry workers. Those who work 9-5 typically get a lunch break, coffee break, sick days, holidays, vacation days, half days, etc.

      Just Facts recently completed extensive research on work, including a very relevant and interesting study of workers who kept detailed time diaries of their work hours. It found that employee estimates of their work hours exceeded their diaries “by between 5 percent and 12 percent.” This is the difference between perceptions and facts.

      • The “free period” as you call it is paid time, yes. Time in which we are often expected to meet with other teachers for planning and department meetings. When we are not doing those things, we are expected to be using that time for grading and preparation that far exceeds the one period per day allocated to it.

        • Nonsense. I work in a public school. Teachers use there one hour of prep to do daily classroom prep, planning and grading. SOMETIMES some of them are asked you meet with admin., or they CHOOSE to consult with or collaborate with other teachers, often they just sit around and b.s. for a good part of the time, or use the massage chair in the teacher’s lounge, often they are in the office chatting up the secretaries or on the phone. Mostly, they use their paid hour of prep to prep and plan.

  8. I don’t have time to read all the comments, so this might have been covered. But Texas teachers, for example, don’t receive anything near the full benefits you describe (and it varies widely). Some have to pay significant amounts in health insurance-both for premiums and deductibles. All pay into their pensions, so you really only should count the state and district contributions and not the total amount. Additionally, I question the 37% percent less work figure….and there’s no way that includes all the time they spend outside the classroom working on an average day. A full three months off would only be 25% less (roughly) and most teachers work a good chunk of that three-month summer break.

    • Most teachers work some of the summer break, but hardly a good chunk of it. There are several holidays off that many private sector workers do not get (Columbus, Veterans’ Day, Presidents’ Day, MLK Day,) a dozen or so half days, winter break, spring break, and also summer. Yes, teachers often do a week or two of professional development, but they gain “clock hours” for if as well so it is not uncompensated and merely altruistic. Anytime I hear admin suggest any professional development, training, collaborative workshop, or a simple meeting, the first thing to come shooting out of teachers’ mouths is “WILL THERE BE CLOCK HOURS AVAILABLE?”
      Anyway, the data presented is very clear and pretty unassailable, and extremely well sourced, the only problem is that it does not seem to comport with the inflated view teachers as a whole have created for themselves. Good lord, you are paid on the public’s dime! Have some gratitude, somebody is busting their butt in the private sector year round to pay those taxes. If the pay sucks, find a job where the pay is better. If you are doing it because it’s your calling, quit griping about the pay. I hear there are private schools that also have teachers. What do they pay?

  9. I can’t believe you are trying to put this over on the American public. It is false and the other news outlets know it. If you truly got this data from your source, then their data is false. You really should have checked it out before you based your argument on false data. Poor journalism.

    • Nonsense. As the article documents, this data comes from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. These are far more credible than anyone’s unsubstantiated assertions.

  10. I find people do not want the facts. They just assume they are getting screwed and want to complain. My wife is a teacher and I often tell her she get paid more then I do when you include her benefits and pension, I’m glad someone else presented the facts and when the pension system fails the taxpayer will be told they have to pay for it! Thank you for the facts.

  11. The education issue in Oklahoma has turned from teacher salaries to general funding for the classroom – for textbooks and other materials used in teaching and in meeting students’ needs while at school. What about this matter? Good information would be helpful to Oklahoma voters and policy-makers.

  12. James,

    Excellent work–on both the original article and your systematic dissection of the whining teachers commenting here.

    They’ve gotten away with pulling the wool over the taxpayers’ eyes for so long, with their dramatic, “I work 12 hours a day, buy all the supplies for my classroom, and pay all my health benefits, etc, etc,” stories of woe and oppression.

    You present the facts very well, very clearly, and dispassionately. Note how the educators respond with illogic, emotion, and vitriol to Just Facts.

    Pretty telling. These are the professionals we entrust our next generation to.

    For insight into what many teachers and their unions value, see the recent Project Veritas investigative journalism reports on the NJ Education Assoc. president explaining his values:

  13. I didn’t see career prep. Time, expenses and loss of potential income. What are the comparables with other professions?

    • Do you think those issues different for teachers from other professions?

      Career prep?
      Loss of potential income?

      Sort of unclear what you mean on all of these, but do you think that teachers are the only ones who better themselves by professional education? Pretty much all professions require constant maintenance and upgrading of skills.

      Same for all your other points.

      Teaching is not a unique job. The only thing that is unique is that teachers have our kids at their mercy–for indoctrination and as hostages in their negotiations for more tax dollars.

  14. I worked in the public sector for thirty years. I enjoyed my career and was reasonably paid (all in) in my opinion. I would recommend that teachers really evaluate their pensions. Whatever component paid by the public has tremendous value over a 401K. It would be reasonable to take the pension payout at retirement and divide the annual income by about 5% to see what it is worth. Assuming a $45,000 per year pension would yield a value $900,000. It takes a lot in the private sector to achieve that. Hopefully, the legislatures and school districts actually funded the retirement system. That is another problem.

    One issue that is reasonable is how much the “administrative” burden in education has ballooned. A lot of the money in education may not actually get to the teachers or the kids.

  15. as a note: I live in Bucks county PA, suburb of Philadelphia. The teachers in our district start out making $45,000 per year but teachers with ten years seniority, which accounts for a third of the total, are making $98,000/yr with $35,000 in benefits The average household total income in the area is $85,000.

  16. I am a retired HR Executive and Consultant with a lot of experience in the field of employee compensation.My wife taught Public School in New York and Florida so I am quite familiar with teacher comp and work schedules.

    I will state that the information in this report is very much in line with my own experience and research on the subject and contrary to reports by the media and teachers unions.

    If you go online and check out a schedule for the public school in your area it is absolutely clear that teachers work a reduced work schedule compared to most other workers in both private sector and government.

    Schools are closed for Spring Break,Summer break, Holiday Break and also for several other Holidays which are celebrated by government workers but not by private sector except for banks and a few other industries.

    Teachers pay that you read in the media and from teachers unions is always stated in annual terms when compared to others but this is a flawed method since teachers work far less hours than those they compare themselves to,

    The only valid comparison is to compare pay on an hourly basis using 1490 hours for teachers and 2045 for others.If you use the example of the average teacher pay of $58,950 and divide by 1490 the hourly rate earned by the average teacher is $39.56 so that the average teacher is being paid at an annualized rate of $80,900.

    Teachers say that they have to work two jobs to get by which they can do since their main job is part time and their second job is just working the hours that are put in by mainstream workers.

    And regardless of what the Union says it is a fact that when schools are closed teachers are not working and most other workers are.

    Add to this that Teachers have Defined Benefit Pensions which only about 15% of private sector workers have and they also have excellent health insurance and post employment health insurance,

    There are some States where adjustments need to be made but overall teachers have a really good deal

  17. I am interested in what you think about the comparisons shown on the OECD education comparisons. U.S. teachers salaries, % of GDP spent and other metrics show U.S at the high end. Not sure if it is apples to apples.

      • In 2013, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers labor union, stated “When people talk about other countries out-educating the United States, it needs to be remembered that those other nations are out-investing us in education as well.”

        That is patently false. In 2013, the U.S. ranked 5th among 33 developed nations in average spending per full-time K–12 student, and the average spending per U.S. student was 28% above the average of these nations. Yet, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 19th in reading and 30th in math.

        Some say that these poor results are not the fault of the schools but the students, their parents, and other factors. However, U.S. 4th graders rank 6th among 45 nations in reading and 14th among 48 nations in math. In other words, U.S. 4th graders are near the top of the pack for reading and math, while U.S. 15-year-olds are near the middle for reading and near the bottom for math.

        Clearly, U.S. students fall behind their international peers as they spend more time in the school system.

        Moreover, empirical and anecdotal evidence shows that with competent schooling, even disadvantaged children excel. For example, in 2009, Public School 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York, had:

        • a mostly Hispanic population.
        • one-third of the students not fluent in English and no bilingual classes.
        • 80% of the students poor enough to qualify for free lunch.
        • lower spending per student than the New York City average.
        • the highest average math score of all fourth graders in New York City, with 99% of the students scoring “advanced.”
        • the top-dozen English scores of all fourth graders in New York City, with 99% of students passing.

        These and other such results indicate that school quality (or lack thereof) plays a major role in how U.S. students compare to students in other nations.

  18. I was able to follow the average salary from $58,950 plus the 33% for benefits to get to the $87,854, but I did not see what the costs were to get to the $120, 578. What is included in the expenses from average annual compensation ($87,000) to the annualized cost ($120000)? Perhaps I missed it but…

    • Annualized ‘cost’, in this case, is a slight misnomer. A more proper term might be ‘annualized compensation’.

      The $120k is the amount a teacher would be compensated IF he/she worked a full year’s time.

      As stated in the above article, teachers work 37% LESS hours than private industry employees.

      So add 37% to the actual $87,854 (1310.4 hours) and you get the what-would-be $120,459.98 (2080 hours).

      Note: hours based on 52 weeks, 40 hours/week

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