Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teachers are overpaid: the new math

This summer I found myself at a party. I'm not a big party guy, so this was news enough. At this particular party there was one of those guys, the ones who are not enlightened enough to know that it's rude to denigrate someone's profession to their face. He started shooting his mouth off about how teaching is a half year job, and we make way too much for working half a year.

I've learned that it's better to ignore those sorts of people and not get into it, so I turned back to the angelically beautiful aspiring opera singer I had been talking to, but he did get my hackles up a little bit, so I need to to write about it.

His justification that teachers are overpaid: schools are in session 180 days a year, and 180 days is six months.

Time for some math, a little logic, and a little bit of fact:

First of all, there are about 20 or 21 working days in a month. I don't know many people who work 30 days a month.

A typical American professional works 48 weeks a year, gets 2 weeks of vacation, and 10 holidays, adding up to a total of 4 weeks off per year. Most professionals start accruing more vacation time, so by the time they've been employed 10 years they get about 4 weeks of vacation. Add in those ten holidays they work 46 weeks.

48 weeks x 5 day/week = 240 working days a year.

240 days a year * 8 hours a day = 1920 hours a year.

My contract requires me to be here 7.5 hours a day, but I'm here about 10 hours every day. Including the time I work at home, I put in about 60 hours a week. I also put in about 60 hours over the summer getting my classroom set up and planning curriculum.

While it is true that there are 180 class days, there are also a double handful of in service days and testing days, so we're really here about 195 days.

195 days of work * 10 hrs. avg/day = 1950 hours of work a year.

1950 hours of work + that 60 hours over the summer = 2010 hours of work a year.

Now, I know I'm new and that eventually I'll be able to get the job done more efficiently. Maybe it'll be down to 50 hours and only 30 hours over the summer.

If I were working in industry at a job with a similar amount of training, expertise, and supervisory responsibility, I'd be making probably 50% more than I do now.

I want to make it clear that I'm not claiming that teachers are poor. My salary is enough to live on, though it's not enough to buy a house on my own any more. But do you think maybe we can stop talking about how overpaid teachers are?

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