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Are American Public School Teachers Overpaid or Underpaid?

  1. thaivalentine profile image60
    thaivalentineposted 5 years ago

    The average American teacher works 9 months a year, gets holidays off, receives a base salary, pension, full benefits and a job for life as a result of tenure. 

    What you get, someone with a Masters Degree who on average teaches a class of students ranging from 30 to 50 students who span the spectrum of well behaved angels to your worst nightmare. 

    Considering all of this, are they overpaid or underpaid?

    1. shogan profile image88
      shoganposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      You should be aware that pay for American public school teachers varies wildly from state to state.

      1. KK Trainor profile image60
        KK Trainorposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Exactly, some teachers make very little and some make a decent living.

        The benefits would seem great, but many work 12 hour days and take work home with them. Besides that they are often required to participate in things they don't want to do, sometimes even having to coach sports they know nothing about or having to lead a student group they have no interest in. It depends on the size of the school and district. These are burdens on some teachers who have kids of their own to care for at home.

        In addition, many parents are pushing their own responsibilities onto teachers these days, expecting them to teach discipline and manners, which parents should be teaching their own kids. Teachers also have responsibility for doling out the free breakfasts and doing lunch or recess duty, leaving little time for them to eat and take care of straightening their classroom. Plus they often have to buy supplies for their students because many either can't afford or don't bother to bring paper and pencils to school.

        It's not a rant, just what I've heard and learned from working in schools as a sub. My best friend is a teacher and loves it, but these are all things she has talked about, plus the politics of school administration. Yikes!

    2. JerryTillotson profile image61
      JerryTillotsonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Within any profession, some are overpaid and some are underpaid.  I know a teacher who is at his desk at school by 5 a.m. every school day and is there until at least 4 p.m. every day.  I would say that teacher is a goo deal for the taxpayers.  I know other teachers who arrive at the contractually obligated start time of 7:30 a.m., or a little later, and are off the school parking lot before some of the students are at the end of the day.  I would say those teachers are taking advantage of the system.

    3. 60
      Loyd Eskildsonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Drastically overpaid, when you compare them to what most private school teachers are paid, especially when benefits and longevity is included. Worse yet, P.E., art/music, kindergarten etc. teachers are paid the same as high-school physics teachers.

    4. LexiAdams profile image59
      LexiAdamsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      You know that where I live (Atlanta) there is always a fuss about the Teachers not doing there job but actually the parents , they don't teach their kids right from wrong they just let them do anything they want and get away with it but they can't try that with the cops they will be in jail before you know it

    5. brimancandy profile image84
      brimancandyposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Teachers are like any other job. There is no job for life. Teachers are constantly the victims of spending cuts. When I was in high school, 8 of our senior teachers were fired at the end of the school year, so that they could afford to re-open the school the following year. That was also the year that I dropped out of high school, because it was a worthless mess as it was. Teacher's salaries were less than $15,000.

      Entire schools have been closed to save money, with kids being routed to other schools, with over loaded classrooms and less teachers. Where do you think all those teachers went? I'll tell you where,  straight to the unemployment office like everyone else.

      All this talk is more republican bullshit, in an attempt to squash unions. So that the rich can get any profession at the cheapest labor possible. They want to private companies to take over almost everything, including our police. Could that be because so many high earning companies have left the country, that they need to come up with new ones to re-generate more corporate taxes? Even though they will still pay a lesser amount in taxes? Sounds suspect to me.

      I know a lot of teachers, and they constantly worry about their jobs. They are always being asked to take some kind of cut.  And, all of them are good people. The republicans are making them out to be gold diggers, while they say nothing about the steaming pieholes of corporate assholes that sponge off the tax payers to keep their buinesses open, while they use goverment bailouts to give themselves a million dollar bonus, while they turn around and fire thousands of their employees, with the money the fed gave them to create jobs.

      You want to cut spending, start with corporate america, no more bailouts for the rich.

    6. Lame stream media profile image60
      Lame stream mediaposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I would say that most are underpaid. the recent cuts and deals with the republicans at the state level really put a dent in much of their future pay /perks like the medical and pensions. I do believe same may be overpaid too I have not seen this in FL. Rick Scott cut education to give big business a tax break killed grants for college and laid off 10 % of the public sector employees killed High speed rail (that would have been fully funded)and funded a commuter rail that gave CSX a huge rail company 426 million smackers. well I am disgusted with the Republicans because they are way off course and they really want to hurt the vulnerable!  my new term NORQUESTRIANS

  2. Jonathan Janco profile image82
    Jonathan Jancoposted 5 years ago

    I have always had a soft spot for teachers. Especially the ones that deal with the ridiculous beauracracies of the public system. I'm a strong supporter of the public system but frankly wish they would commit more of the budget to the actual schools rather than all the t crossing and i dotting that they do. While in some cases esp in wealtier areas, teachers do make a decent living, I don't think by any stretch of the imagination are any of them overpaid. The myth about teachers is that they have this nice job with summers off. Well, alot of them DONT take summers off because they work summer school or summer camp because the opp is there and they need the income. A high school teacher I know from a place I used to work at appeared to have something akin to a nervous breakdown when I served her a couple years ago. She told me she had gotten bumped from the summer school staff because a senior teacher requested the gig last minute. By the time I brought her BLT out to her, she was face down on the bar crying her eyes out. Apparently, she had spent the entire school year relying on that income. No person charged with the responsibility of educating our youth should have to worry about where their next month's rent is coming from.

  3. brlewis profile image60
    brlewisposted 5 years ago

    Definately underpaid. I am a teacher, who teaches at a private school now. This is because in public school they kept piling on the work without increasing the pay. I had absolutely no time for my family. I get paid half of what I used to be paid in the public school system, however, I am so happy now! There is so much work involved in teaching now that there aren't many people who last in the school systems anymore. Which is not good in a profession where experience makes you a better teacher.

    1. rebekahELLE profile image91
      rebekahELLEposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I'm with you on this one. I spent 8 years in the public school system, but made an exit to the private sector. The pay equaled out to about the same, but the heavy bureaucracy was gone. Private schools have their own issues, but nothing like what public schools have to endure.
      Now I'm at a different private school and took a pay cut, but you do what you need to do.
      Over-paid? I've never met a teacher who was overpaid. The work we do would make your head swim, and most of the teachers I've worked with do it for the love of our profession, not the paycheck.
      Summers off and holidays? If you only knew...

      Some public school districts have such severe budget cuts that teachers have been laid off and given the option to return as subs without benefits.

  4. TMMason profile image75
    TMMasonposted 5 years ago

    They are over-paid and over-coddled.

    We need to get rid of all the Teachers Unions currently in the School System and force the feds back out of it.

    Schools need to be brought back under local authority and the powers of the Feds and Unions stripped before they can destroy any more young minds.

    1. cardelean profile image88
      cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Hmmm...I wonder how long you have worked, volunteered, or subbed in the public school sector.  I always invite anyone who has such strong opinions about how over paid and under worked teachers are to spend some time in teacher's shoes doing ALL that they do in a day/week.  I'm sure that you would be singing a different song by the end of the week. 

      Are there "bad" teachers?  Sure.  Are there teachers who take advantage of the system?  Absolutely.  But if you've never worked or spent any length of time in a school, especially an urban district, be careful of your judgements.

    2. JerryTillotson profile image61
      JerryTillotsonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Yes, TMMason, I'd like you to teach one of my 45 minute AP U.S. History classes.  Don't worry.  I'd be there to bail you out as soon as my students smelled your blood in the water and knew you couldn't handle it.

      1. TMMason profile image75
        TMMasonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Dude... please... gimmie a break with the super-hero routine.

        Hold on I will get you a paper bag and some scissors, we can cut you a cape.

        What color do you want the big "T" on it to be?

        You have no idea of how I handle myself in any situation, kid.

  5. Esmeowl12 profile image83
    Esmeowl12posted 5 years ago

    Most public school teachers are overworked and underpaid. Many teachers take summer jobs to supplement their income or they attend workshops during that time to stay on top of current trends in education. Money comes from their own pockets to create a better and more instructional classroom environment. The school day doesn't end when the students leave either. There are usually piles and piles of papers to grade and record, usually in front of the TV in the evening when time could be spent enjoying family. Those critical of teachers should volunteer to help in the classroom for a few days. I guarantee that the perspective would change.

  6. Stevennix2001 profile image82
    Stevennix2001posted 5 years ago

    If you ask me, I think all military personnel, firemen, police, AND teachers are underpaid in general; considering our society wouldn't be able to function without any of them.

  7. Cagsil profile image82
    Cagsilposted 5 years ago

    WOW! I guess that is all I can say from reading the replies so far.

    Are American Public School Teachers Overpaid or Underpaid? If teachers were to teach, the way they are suppose to teach and truly understood "wealth creation", then what they were paid, wouldn't matter in the slightest.

    I would rather have teachers who love their job and money doesn't matter, teach children. Those who do it for a job, just because it's a job? Then, they do more damage than good.

    What teachers are paid? Overpaid? or Underpaid? actually comes in a mixture. There are teachers who are overpaid, simply because their value in teaching isn't what it should be. There are some teachers who are underpaid, but teach like they would always be underpaid. Those with the best work ethic are the only ones who should be teaching anything to children. Those who put in 110% to their work, and are glad at the end of the day that they made a difference.

    Boy is society all screwed up in thinking. So much distortion and misinformation out and about, people haven't a clue.

  8. rebekahELLE profile image91
    rebekahELLEposted 5 years ago

    yes, get rid of the corporate welfare. Enough.

  9. knolyourself profile image60
    knolyourselfposted 5 years ago

    Most people couldn't baby sit 30 kids for five minutes, let along six hours a day.

    1. cardelean profile image88
      cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      That is the truth.  I have seen subs leave classrooms half way through the day in tears because they can't handle it.  Not to mention that babysitting pays MUCH more.  At $150/week for a child times 30 kids...well let's see, that's 4500/week.  I don't know a single teacher that makes that.  Oh, and don't forget the educating that happens during that time as well.

  10. cardelean profile image88
    cardeleanposted 5 years ago

    Whenever this topic comes up, I invite people to spend a "real" week in a public classroom and shadow a teacher doing all that he/she does.  If you still think that they are over paid, God Bless you.  Oh, and don't drink any water during that time because you can only pee before school, during lunch, and after school.  Add in your "break" if you are lucky enough to get one that day.

    Are there bad teachers and ones that take advantage of things, definitely.  Should there be some reform in education?  For sure.  But those who judge need to take a walk in those shoes.

  11. knolyourself profile image60
    knolyourselfposted 5 years ago

    My ex was a school teacher. I think it must be the toughest job in the world, unless you are a cushy school where all the kids are angels.

  12. 0
    Husky1970posted 5 years ago

    Excellent and effective teachers are grossly underpaid.  Underperforming and ineffective teachers are vastly overpaid.  Reward the former and weed out the latter.

    1. TMMason profile image75
      TMMasonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Not going to happen as long as the Teacher's Unions have a say in it.

  13. ThePracticalMommy profile image92
    ThePracticalMommyposted 5 years ago

    I agree with cardelean wholeheartedly. I have said to many people that if they question what teachers' jobs are like, they should step into their shoes for just one day--one half day even. They can arrive at the starting time and leave with the students; no extra time is required. Experience it all: the variety of students, the variety of learning abilities in one classroom, the room full with 20-40 students, the expectations, the paperwork, the work to do during breaks, the work to bring home (every day, on vacation days and weekends), the testing schedules, the ever-changing curriculum, the money spent on supplies, the parents who didn't want to help, the government that demands every drop of blood, sweat and tears...the list could go on forever.

    Don't get me wrong. I loved being a teacher. It was my life. I loved every aspect of it, including all that I mentioned above. That is how  teachers are today; we are in it for the love of teaching, not for the love of money. We want to help our students become the best they can be in all aspects of life, since they are our future and they deserve the best for themselves.

    I know some people from the older generations might view teachers a bit differently, based on their own experiences of the only teachers they might remember: those who may not have had the love of teaching and made many lives miserable. My own father had a complete disdain for the teaching profession because of his memories. When he heard I was going to become one, I thought he was going to disown me. It wasn't until he saw the work I had to do, witnessed the extra hours I spent preparing and grading, watched as I spent my paycheck buying supplies for my students since the district couldn't afford them, heard my stories of the students I interacted with on a daily basis, that he knew it wasn't an easy, cushy job.

    Please don't say the unions or tenure are to blame for the current educational problems.  Tenure does not keep the bad teachers. The bad are given a chance, but if they do not cooperate, they are moved to a different environment or asked to leave. Tenure gives the good teachers the opportunity to remain part of a team without being randomly cut due to a budget change or because they are disliked by the administration for any reason.

    Please don't say that the Feds should take over. What good would that do? Do you think a group of people without teaching experience should be controlling the educational system? Look what NCLB did to education; it is nothing but a gimmick to overtest students due to unrealistic expectations set by those with no or little experience in the classroom. Even with that the Feds are not in charge, but look at the damage the law has done!

    So, overpaid or underpaid? Really? Is that what it is all about? Ask an NFL player if he's overpaid. They have unions, right? Ask a reality star who drinks and does drugs. Don't ask those who are working hard to keep our future alive.

    Want to talk about money? How about giving more to schools so the quality programs can continue and basic supplies like pencils and paper can be purchased?

    (I'm very sorry this was a long response, but I had to say it all. No personal attacks needed.)

    1. cardelean profile image88
      cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this


  14. TMMason profile image75
    TMMasonposted 5 years ago

    The fact is home-schoolers are making public students look "dumberer" everyday.

    Here is an update on Atlanta, GA... very telling.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/178-tea … ting-fear/

    ----"Experts say the cheating scandal — which involved more schools and teachers than any other in U.S. history — has led to soul-searching among other urban districts facing cheating investigations and those that have seen a rapid rise in test scores.

    In Georgia, teachers complained to investigators that some students arrived at middle school reading at a first-grade level. But, they said, principals insisted those students had to pass their standardized tests. Teachers were either ordered to cheat or pressured by administrators until they felt they had no choice, authorities said.

    One principal forced a teacher to crawl under a desk during a faculty meeting because her test scores were low. Another principal told teachers that “Walmart is hiring” and “the door swings both ways,” the report said.

    Another principal told a teacher on her first day that the school did whatever was necessary to meet testing benchmarks, even if that meant “breaking the rules.”"----

    Sad sad state of affairs.

    1. JerryTillotson profile image61
      JerryTillotsonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I have had the experience of having classes composed of students who have only attended public school, students who attended parochial schools during their elementary years then transferred to public middle school, and students who have been home-schooled and then transferred to middle or high school.  Without prior introductions, I can always pick out all three.  The parochial school students are the best behaved of the three groups and have better study and work habits.  The home-schooled students are behind of social skills, are by self-absorbed and demanding of attention, and have an extremely difficult time adjusting to a traditional public school schedule.

      1. cardelean profile image88
        cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this


    2. cardelean profile image88
      cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      What is actually is a sad state of affairs is the way that society demonizes teachers. Your point TM is exactly what is wrong with the educational system in the US.  There is much too much focus on the results of standardized tests that do not measure all that is involved in educating children today.  In addition to that, you are not comparing accurate statistics when you look at results state to state because there is not one standardized test for all.  Your example of pressure for high test results is a reality and one that I have experienced.  However, that is because of the pressure that is put on schools by politicians and other people who are not educators that make decisions for educators. 

      You would never hear politicians or other members of society criticize a doctor who works in an inner city clinic where the diets of the patients are poor and they have little money to care for their basic needs say things like "how come your patients have a high rate of heart disease and diabetes?  Why are your patients dying younger than those in more affluent areas?"   You would expect to hear something like "Oh well what do you expect when those people are poor and cannot afford to have preventative health care."  It is the same thing in education, that cards are not dealt equally.  You are lumping everything into one category and not realizing (or not caring to) the complexity of the situation.  Again I will say that there are problems in public education that need reform but public stoning of teachers is not the answer.  We don't get to pick our students.  We must educate everyone that walks through our doors.  That includes the learning disabled, the poor and hungry, the children in foster homes, those who have parents who beat them, are incarcerated and more.  And yes, they are all included in those statistics.

      As for your home schooling comparison.  I have had students who are well prepared enter my class who have been home schooled and others who just don't have a clue.  The educational experience for children is unique for each child, no matter where they have that experience.

  15. Rock_nj profile image91
    Rock_njposted 5 years ago

    A tough question to answer.  In my state teacher salaries cause high property taxes, but people will pay up to live in a good school district.  Keep in mind that teacher's jobs do not end when they leave work for the day.  Many teachers spend many hours on nights and weekends grading student tests and essays. 

    Teachers in many states certainly enjoy excellent benefits.  But perhaps we should all strive to have such excellent benefits instead of criticizing teachers for negotiating excellent benefits.

    1. cardelean profile image88
      cardeleanposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you for your perspective and support for teachers.  I agree that teachers have historically had great benefits but that is quickly changing.  I'm not sure that teacher salaries cause high property taxes as much as higher property taxes result in better schools (more money is put into them) which results in higher pay for those teachers to attract the better teachers.  At least that is the case here in Michigan.

  16. Terri Meredith profile image90
    Terri Meredithposted 5 years ago

    The average teacher's salary in my state is $55,000 per year with an entry level salary of $34,000.  The median family income last year was $48,000.  Now mind you, that figure includes families with two incomes as well as single incomes.  Anyone see how there might be hardships for families whose taxes are pushed to the limit to award salaries that are almost 13% more than their two earner income?  But wait!  Let's take a look at how well the students are doing....Very interesting.  Pennsylvania ranked 9th out of the country with high school students averaging an over all grade of a B. 

    Here's what's interesting.  Up until 35 years ago, Pennsylvania placed in the top 5 most years.  The teachers were paid absolutely atrocious salaries of $12,000 to $15,000 per year.  We lost many, many excellent teachers who turned to other professions in order to support their families.  Pennsylvania learned a valuable lesson.  Salaries were increased in order to attract better teachers.  In the following 3+ decades, the performances of students continued to slide until Pennsylvania was ranking at 33rd and 34th place. 

    Just 2 years ago, we were still ranking in the dismal dungeons.  As of this year's new ranking reports, we are suddenly in 9th place.  Hmmmmm....Ed Rendell claimed it was his continually spending more money on education for all of his 8 years in office, that made the difference.  That may or may not be true, but these numbers encourage another question.

    The average salary numbers were pretty much the same in 2006, which implies that we've maintained the same rate of retirees, newbies, and teachers returning each year.  So if salaries didn't make the difference in the ranking, was it really the additional monies being given, or like Georgia, have our educators simply learned how to cheat more effectively?

    My job has afforded me an opportunity to hire many teenagers for part-time positions.  Unfortunately, I've learned to give them 4th grade level reading and math tests prior to hiring them.  Most of these kids simply can not do basic math that would enable them to be a cashier.  They don't know how to make change.  They also have trouble reading the kitchen screens to understand what food they are expected to prepare.  I have seen no improvement in their scholastic abilities that would warrant them achieving a B status.

    That being said, I also have had opportunities to spend a day here and a day there at various public schools as a teacher for special projects.  No, it's not the same as being there day after day.  I loved every minute of my time in the spotlight, teaching kids who literally followed my every word in rapt attention.  It was sort of like a really good drug  (not that I have much experience with drugs  smile What I did notice, that brought me up short, were the many teachers lounging around the hallways, chatting and gossiping throughout the day.

    So, I will end this long winded comment by saying that I don't think teachers are necessarily overpaid, but I sure don't believe they're underpaid. The positions are salaried.  The rest of us with salaried positions are also taking work home with us, or staying extra hours out of necessity.  The difference is we aren't all supported by a union, so many, many of us are called into work on our days off and never compensated with a replacement day.  We are not awarded extra pay.  We may be expected to cancel our vacations, pay for daycare in order to appear at the drop of a hat, etc..  It is the nature of our jobs and the fact that we opted for the security of a set paycheck every week means we will definitely have to ante up occasionally and suffer the disadvantages that go along with it.  The only solution is to find a new job, perhaps an hourly one, where there are a few different labor law restrictions on employers regarding pay and hours worked.

    If the numbers in my restaurant reflected the same kind of poor performance being achieved on the educational level, I wouldn't have my job for long.  In my area of reality, performance is rewarded, and failure is not accepted, regardless of where we believe the finger should be pointed.  If we aren't good enough at our jobs to find a workable solution, then we might be looking for another job.  At the very least, we won't be handed a raise just because we said we tried to accomplish the goal.