Since the mid-1980s, there has been an increasing howl of complaint that public school teachers “make too much money” – reaching a crescendo around 2000. It’s an assertion made routinely by right-wing TV pundits who garner tens of millions in income by unearthing egregious betrayals of the public trust and passing them off as the status quo.
So it’s time for some hard data.
Last year the California Department of Education School Fiscal Services Division – unlike Glenn Beck – surveyed the salary scales for every school district and county education office in the state. The results contradict both those who believe that teachers are fattening luxuriously in the public trough, and those who claim teachers can barely eke out a pinched living at the bottom of the economic ladder.
The California data reveals that teachers make… pretty middling salaries on average.
The chart shows a sampling of lowest, highest, and average full-time teacher salaries from some representative districts around California, and particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Santa Clara teacher salaries are on the lower-middle part of the scale, ranging from $39,069 at the low end and $89,856 at the top, with an average of $73,381. By contrast, Mountain View-Los Altos Union School District’s pay scale starts at $62,102 and tops out at $117,351, with an average salary of $92,725. Nice money, but not what you’d call rich in Silicon Valley. San Jose Unified’s pay scale starts higher than Santa Clara’s – $43,436 – but the average is lower – $67,256.
Next : The CalSTRS pension system.
Caption: Sample Teacher Salary Ranges Across California. Source: “Selected Certificated Salaries And Related Statistics 2009-10,” January 2011, www.cde.ca.gov/ds/fd/cs/. Survey participation was voluntary and includes information for 856 districts.
Carolyn Schuk can be reached at email@example.com.