Teachers Have It Good

Readers write

April 07, 1991

From: Patricia Stilwell


Patricia Anderson's letter in the March 3 edition of The Harford County Sun really makes me wonder what teachers expect. I have read her letter several times, and each time I read it I am astonished at her perspective of her profession and her dissatisfaction with her compensation.

Anderson states that teachers are unemployed in the summer. I suppose that's one way of looking at it, but just because teachers are not working in the summer does not make them unemployed. Aren't they really just on that unpaid vacation that Anderson refers to in her next sentence? Except, is it really an unpaid vacation? Isn't Anderson comparing her 10-month salary to the salaries of those in other professions that are earned during a 12-month work year? I'd be very interested to know the average white-collar salary in Maryland and in Harford County.

After reading this letter, I have to wonder how much money teachers think they should earn per (10-month) year? And I wonder how much they think the rest of us actually do earn per (12-month) year? Anderson seems to be saying she should earn $54,108 per 10-month work year based on the "average" salary of $36,072 quoted in her letter and factoring in the 50 percent raise she says she is worth. The school year is 180 days, which are 36 five-day work weeks, and Anderson works 50 hours per week (1,800 work hours). She is saying she should be paid, in her estimation, $30.06 per hour as opposed to the paltry $20.04 per hour she is now earning.

I personally think that $20.04 per hour plus benefits (job security, hospitalization, retirement plan, Christmas vacation -- "unpaid" though it is, she still gets that week off every year -- etc.) is pretty decent.

Those benefits are never mentioned by teachers. Neither is the luxury of being able to roll back into bed on snowy mornings while the rest of the working public is sliding into work and making frantic child-care arrangements. These kinds of benefits have a value that could be quantified in monetary terms.

Anderson also doesn't mention that the additional education she's required to obtain ultimately benefits her in terms of a salary increase once she has her master's degree.

It seems to me that teachers who feel compelled to write to newspapers bemoaning their sorry lot in the salary department seem to have an unrealistic picture of what comparably educated workers earn. Additionally, the perks of the job, whatever the job may be, have to be considered when comparisons are being made. I don't think teachers are goingto find much support for $50,000-plus/10-month year salaries. And ifAnderson took her elementary education degree out into the business community tomorrow, I think she'd be hard pressed to find a job that would pay her $36,072 even if she already has her master's.

While I could go on to address the other "hardships" that poor Anderson cites in her letter, I would like to point out that most professionals work unpaid overtime, many of us continue our education at our own expense without it being a requirement, and many of us purchase materials and equipment that our employers will not provide. That is reality of the working world for all of us.

Anderson is indeed paid by thehour -- $20.04 per work hour not counting the value of her employer-paid benefits. For the sake of comparison, a 12-month employee earning a yearly salary of $36,072, with four weeks of "paid" vacation and working 50 hours per week for 180 days of his/her work year earns $15.82 (calculated by hours actually worked). From yet another perspective, if Anderson worked a 12-month work year with four weeks of paid vacation at the same hourly rate, she'd be making $38,476.80.

Jeez,I sure hope Anderson doesn't teach math.

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