Thursday, March 31, 2011

Should an AP Chemistry teacher be paid the same as a second grade gym teacher?

From an article about the downsized New York State budget, a comment critical of public education's teacher compensation structure raises a sometimes controversial point. insane and indefensible compensation philosophy that pairs a 2nd grade gym teacher as an equal of an AP chemistry teacher...
It's hard for me to accept that both teachers should be compensated the same.  Market conditions should play a factor in teacher pay; otherwise, excellent math and science teachers are difficult to recruit.  On the other hand, some argue that early elementary teachers are performing such an important job that they should be compensated at the same level as the AP chemistry teacher is.
Here's the complete comment:
"It is not enough to solve all of our problems," said Kim Foskew, president of the East Ramapo PTA Council." How apt.
Yup, it's your problem ... not the problem of the taxpayers. And the problems? Unrealistic salary schedules, unreformed pension programs, pro-level athletic facilities and sport expenses, idiotic elective classes, nonsense phys ed programs, social engineering efforts of all sorts, out-of-control special education expenses, total addiction to every asinine educational whimsy, relentless waste of technology of all sorts, teacher union domination of the entire institution, waste of all sorts ... from textbooks to paper to talent, an insane and indefensible compensation philosophy that pairs a 2nd grade gym teacher as an equal of an AP chemistry teacher, palatial educational plants, meal give-aways, a school calendar that hasn't changed since Rip Van Winkle, and a total, never-ending "screw you" to taxpayers year after year.
Yup. You do have problems.


  1. This is a problem in higher ed, too, even at non-union schools. Professors in STEM and business tend to be hired at the top end of the salary range for their rank, and then can't get any sort of increases beyond the minimum because it would push them out of their range.

  2. Are there typically different salary ranges for the various disciplines? I "think" that college professors have more and higher income-producing opportunities outside their schools than K-12 teachers do. Hmm, maybe not.

  3. Argh, I just typed a long response and the blog system ate it.

  4. I hate when that happens! I hope you try again!

  5. It is not just subject that should be taken into account. I teach AP chemistry, regular chemistry and Pre-AP chemistry; 7 classes total of 125 students. I have a friend who teaches 5 classes of 85 students total; all regular chemistry. I plan for 3 classes, he plans for 1. I have another friend who has to prepare for 5 different classes. Should we all be paid the same simply based on experience?

    Grading and prep time are labor intensive activities that should be taken into account when teacher pay is determined.

  6. Very good point, Mr. Parker! It's curious that teacher contracts often have many "little" tasks spelled out as part of the compensation agreement, but the labor intensive class responsibilities that can vary so much are ignored.