Myth about teachers’ salaries continues


Tom Trousdale from Leyden High School District 212 recently wrote a letter lamenting, once again, the state of the poor, underpaid, underpensioned Illinois schoolteacher.

This is another example of teacher union mythology that, though demonstrably false, continues to be promulgated by every teacher and union official.

So how does Trousdale’s claim that teacher salaries “stand at the bottom of the pack” compare with the facts? Well, at his school, the average teacher salary is $78,000 per year for nine months of work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the metropolitan Chicago area, that is more than accountants and auditors, financial analysts, computer and mathematical science occupations, architects, aerospace engineers, civil engineers, chemical engineers, microbiologists and chemists make, just to name a few.  So the “bottom of the pack” appears to be his private-sector peers not his fellow teachers.

You will notice that all of the above degrees require a much more rigorous curriculum than the typical education degree. I think it is safe to say most education majors did not enter that course of study because aerospace engineering was too easy for them. So you have to ask yourself if teaching degrees are easier to obtain and teachers work only nine months a year, then why are they paid more than their degreed peers in the private sector?

Keep in mind Leyden District 212 is one of the worst serial salary-inflators in the state. It is home to the $168,000-a-year driver’s education teacher and the $80,000 raise.  As unbelievable as the driver’s ed salary is, there is a person at District 212 who went from $136,000 in 2003 to $216,000 in 2004.  Compare that with the private sector’s 3 percent average raise.

Trousdale also says teachers “don’t expect to get rich,” which is good to know since teacher pensions show otherwise. For example, the above-mentioned driver’s ed teacher’s average salary over the last four years was $138,000, and his pension is 75 percent of that or $103,000 per year at age 56.

If he would ask a mutual fund company how much money he would have to give it upfront for an annuity that will provide him with a lifetime income of $103,000 indexed for inflation, it would tell him to write a check for $2.5 million.

This teacher’s personal contribution to his pension compounded at 5 percent interest per year adds up to about $290,000, meaning 88 percent or $2.2 million of his pension is paid for by taxpayers, not by the teacher himself.

In other words, we taxpayers could save ourselves $1.5 million if we write this guy a check for $1 million when he retires rather than paying him over the rest of his life, and since, according to Trousdale, teachers don’t expect to get rich, I am sure they will be happy to accept a $1 million check in lieu of their pension.

So how about it, Mr. Trousdale, is a million dollars enough not to make you rich?