“Raising the salaries for teachers raises the quality of life for everyone.”

Dear NEA Today:

I work at a Fortune 500 company and earn far less than my wife, a public school music teacher and NEA member. I write to debate several of the points you raise in your October 2005 cover story on teacher salaries.

Two times in two paragraphs I read that Kirk Petit, a high school teacher in Nebraska, has trouble feeding his three young children. He earns $39,527 teaching, then works 30 hours each week stocking shelves. If he earns $8 an hour there, with two weeks’ unpaid vacation, that’s $12,000. When school lets out for the summer, he runs a sno-cone stand. If he earns $6 an hour there, that’s $240 a week or $2400 for a summer. By my (lowball) estimates, he’s making $54,000 a year, in a state with a modest cost of living. He has trouble feeding three little kids? What are those kids eating?

The teaching profession has no monopoly on 50-hour workweeks or cumbersome licensure requirements. These conditions prevail in nursing, accounting, and investment banking, three fields you rightly point to as having higher starting salaries than teaching. But you don’t mention that people starting in those jobs tend to work fifty weeks a year, with few holidays and no hope of a two-month summer hiatus. When I read your salary chart, I deduct 1/6 from the private-sector jobs, and the playing field evens out considerably.

page <  1  2  3  >