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Palo Alto teacher salaries compared statewide

Original post made on Feb 8, 2013

The average public school teacher in Palo Alto earns somewhere in the middle -- not the highest, not the lowest -- compared to teachers in surrounding communities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 8, 2013, 9:56 AM

Comments (27)

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Posted by Give Me a Break
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Feb 8, 2013 at 11:24 am

You can make numbers support any conclusion you want. The author of this article failed to report that comparing averages of unified school districts (K-12) with elementary or high school only districts is comparing apples to oranges. AND comparing average salaries is extremely misleading since all schools give teachers automatic step and pay raises that increase with numbers of years experience (you get a raise for just hanging in there and showing up to work whether r not you did a good job).

Teachers from grade 7-12 have to be credentialed in their teaching subject (different from the general teaching credential). This amounts to more classes in their specific field and usually more education beyond a simple BA in education. Many of these teachers have Masters degrees, and some have PhDs. That additional education is reflected in the teachers salary, from the start.

So a K-12 district cannot be compared to a high school only or an elementary only district. Additionally, length of service is critical to the comparison, as new teachers earn less than someone who is about to retire. Gunn and Paly hired over 45 new teachers in 2005 and had another high hiring year in 2006 (I don't know about the elementary school hires for those years, but with enrollment increasing every year, you are hiring entry level teachers.)

Many of the middle and high schools use part time teachers as well which will bring average salaries down.

So, the right way to look at this for a true comparison is to break out the average salaries for full time teachers by years of service (5, 10, 15, etc.)and compare PAUSD to only K-12 districts and state the size of the districts. EdData does have teracher experience trends for each school district. PAUSD has an average of about 12 years, while Cupertino Union has about 10 years average (they all fluctuate from year to year).

Salary numbers are the easiest to compare but we all know that is only part of the picture. Benefits should be added but that may be beyond the capabilities of Ed Data. But they do list the employee contribution to the Healcare plans--but not saying how those plans differ.

So, are the PAUSD teachers payed comparably? No way to know.....


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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2013 at 11:44 am

At these salaries, these are professional positions, not union jobs.

There are too many incompetents masquerading as teachers. Don't give 'em a nickel until they dump the unions and we convert these jobs to "at-will" positions.


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Posted by Teachers-Are-Over-Paid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm

@Give-Me-A-Break has pretty much demonstrated that pro-education organizations like EdData can not be trusted to do a fully adequate job of providing the public meaning comparisons of education system data. Adding to this failure on EdData's part, is the fact that teachers are guaranteed pensions, which are estimated to be about 72% of their top salaries at 30 years, but can be more—if they teach more than 30 years. These additional payouts come to millions, when teachers start exiting the system with salaries over $100K/year.

While the pension system's payouts are added equally to all teachers/Staff across the state—these additional payouts increase the effective salaries of education system employees when compared to private sector employees who work all year long—as opposed to the 180-odd day school year.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Benefits:
the benefit of being able to have your kids educated in PAUSD (if you are a PAUSD teacher)while living outside the district is QUITE a benefit that should be added to the salary comparison.
Some PAUSD teachers do live in the district, by the way, but for those who don't, hey, what a valuable benefit that is hard to quantify but is still VERY significant.
-from someone who pays a heckuva lot of property taxes for a middling home...


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Posted by Mommy us
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Considering how godawful much it takes to live here, I am surprised PAUSD does not pay better, unless they want their teachers commuting from MOdesto and being chronically late!


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 8, 2013 at 10:56 pm

These salaries are for 9 months of work.

So, if you annualize that, then that means PAUSD teachers make 6 figure salaries.
Pretty good.

Agreed that unions do not seem to be needed.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2013 at 11:22 pm

The teacher unions are laying the PR case for the budget cycle that's coming up; they are anticipating that the school district will have a surplus.

Unfortunately, PAUSD has a weak board, who will not lead and change the compensation philosophy to merit based pay, and weeding out those who aren't suited for the teaching profession.


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Posted by luc deshamp
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 9, 2013 at 9:34 am

if you annualise the salary and add the benefits, the median is in 110K+benefits. @ current average life span, and based on demographics of teachers (female), you have to double the salary to come up with full comp. 220K median. Now that is not low pay by any standard. Based on our governor and president this is getting close to be in the 1%.

when is the public going to stop being fooled by this notion that teacher are underpaid, over worked etc.

even the starting salaries are more than competitive (51,422, 68K annualized, 130K full benefits included...)


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2013 at 9:40 am

This story is merely a reprinted PAEA press release and it is inaccurate because it compares districts that are not similar despite the fact that EdStats permits very fine grained comparisons among similar districts. Using the program correctly and making appropriate comparisons yields a different (and startling for many parents) result.

PAUSD is a unified district. Comparing PAUSD to other unified districts in California with at least 5K students rather than to the convenient and random agglomeration of comparators in this "story," (we actually have 11K students but I set it generously in order to reinforce the point) shows that PAUSD has the highest average teacher salary in the state of California, bar none. Out of 167 comparable districts, PAUSD has the highest average teacher salary, and by a wide margin. Nearest competitors are Pleasanton Unified, Newport, New Haven, and Garden Grove. PAUSD was also the highest paid district of its type and size in 2011.
See: Web Link

Palo Alto also has the highest per pupil expenditures of any of the 167 comparator schools in 2010-11 (figures not available for 2011-12), and that does not count private education foundation funds that supplement that ranking.

When the analysis is limited only to those schools to which PAUSD is even more comparable rather than merely all unified districts with enrollment greater than 5K, then the picture the same or better. Comparing PAUSD to those schools with similar ethnicity and API again puts us on top statewide. Of the 53 unified districts with more than 5K enrollment and in which the largest ethnic group is white PAUSD again has the highest teacher salary, and again by a wide margin. Of the 54 unified school districts with more than 5000 students and a similar (+- 20%) proportions of students scoring proficient or above on the math portion of the CST, PAUSD again tops the teacher salary rankings.

No matter how you slice it, PAUSD has the highest teacher salary for any mid-size or above unified district in the state. It also traditionally offers the richest benefit package and the highest per pupil spending as well.

The comparisons in this "story", though nearby are not actually comparable in type, size, or makeup and are not relevant, though they make a nice sob story.

That doesn't mean that teachers should not receive raises. Perhaps they should. However the idea that our teachers are somehow underpaid relative to the market is simply false. The idea that our teachers will leave and go elsewhere if we don't give them unlimited autonomy is also false -- even laughably so, given that they have the highest salary, highest benefits, and greatest classroom resources (as measured by per pupil expenditures) in the state in which they are certified to teach.

They could of course go to private schools and some of them doubtless would be successful there. But I think that many of our secondary teachers would find the degree of responsiveness to parents that is required of private school teachers something of a shock.


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Posted by Palo Verde Parent
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

Michelle,
I think that you are also conveniently choosing how to compare teacher salaries.
"The idea that our teachers will leave and go elsewhere if we don't give them unlimited autonomy is also false -- even laughably so, given that they have the highest salary, highest benefits, and greatest classroom resources (as measured by per pupil expenditures) in the state in which they are certified to teach."

The above is a false statement.

A high school teacher could go to MVLA and make considerably more (PAUSD is not the "highest" for a high school teacher)

An elementary teacher could go to Las Lomitas and on "average" make more money.

Just because both of these teachers could not go to the same district does not mean they could not go elsewhere and make more money.

I highly doubt that the teachers get any benefit from us being a "unified" district. As a matter of fact with the whole calendar debate it is quite possible that our teachers feel that being in a "unified" district is actually a disadvantage.

I agree that our teachers are well paid, but we must be honest and admit that they are not the "highest" paid.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

PVP: There is no reason to believe that our teachers are underpaid relative to the relevant comparators. The fact that we have the highest salaries in the state for similar schools on average suggests that our teachers in any given category are paid competitively. You are comparing an average salary for a unified district to an average salary for a non-unified district and concluding, incorrectly, that the PAUSD teacher earns the average regardless of what grade or level of education he or she possesses. The fact that PAUSD pays the most of any similar district in the state strongly suggests (and is the best evidence that) our teachers have competitive pay and benefits for their grade level, training, and expertise. You cannot compare apples to grapes and then conclude that apples can grow on vines if they want to because they are both "on average" fruit.


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Posted by Teachers-Are-Over-Paid
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

> teachers can leave and go somewhere else ..

Yes .. if there are openings for them. The idea that 30% of the teaching staff will walk away every year is not very realistic.

And so what if a few teachers leave every year for better opportunities? That's the way the world works—and it should be no different for teachers. There will always be a job opening closer to home, or that offers better hours, higher salary, or even a promotion. Thinking that once hired, a PAUSD teacher should be expected to work here for the rest of her life is extremely unrealistic.


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Posted by example of techer failure
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

"You cannot compare apples to grapes and then conclude that apples can grow on vines if they want to because they are both "on average" fruit."

Huh? OMG, that is a totally awesome statement, worthy of a Bulwer–Lytton. Clearly, some teacher should have been fired a long time ago.


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Posted by $$bureaucrats
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Doesn't our district superintendent make as much as or more than the governor of our state? Our administrators make too much and there are too many of them! Talk about performance-based pay, how about the administrators?


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Posted by teacher
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Yes; as teachers in this geographical area, we are paid well. Though I hold a Masters and five teaching credentials, I make considerably less than the average in our district due to number of years actually in the classroom. Yes - I'm frustrated about the system, but at least there is a concrete way to work through it. And while I work through the system, the students still need as much support as any other district I've worked in.

Many teachers I teach with have left administrative (district office) positions to return to the classroom - because while those jobs pay well, they are still not worth the intense pressure from all stakeholders including the media.

Palo Alto pays for strong teachers. For those hired in the last 5 years: if they are not good teachers, they are asked not to return. If you read the calendar, it does appear we work 9 months, though I meet with my team and develop curriculum/plan throughout the summer. I consider those 3 months that I'm not "working" similar to those weeks my husband travels to conferences throughout the year for his high-tech job. I become a better teacher during that time, so I can be stronger for my colleagues and next group of students.


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Posted by an "overpaid" teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Most "union jobs" clock out after 40 hours a week. Teachers can't. The work follows us home until long after the "non-union" work force is enjoying happy hour and weeknight TV binges. The nine-month work angle is absurd -- clearly from someone who has never been a teacher.

However, even assuming a 40 week work year, teachers would only need to put in 50 hours per week to meet the full time requirements of most other occupations. Most teachers do considerably more than that. These teachers should be paid handsomely, given that an educated populace is foundational to a functioning democracy and a competitive economy.

The discourse on education in this country is sadly driven by people who have no idea what it is like to be a teacher. Until teachers are respected enough to be heard, that will never change. In short, if you've never been a teacher, you should probably just stop posting on these boards. Thanks.


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Posted by negotiated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2014 at 7:57 pm

"overpaid"

"The discourse on education in this country is sadly driven by people who have no idea what it is like to be a teacher."

People have no idea about a lot of jobs. The responsibility is with each individual to advocate fair pay for their job. In the case of teachers you have a union as well. It is a negotiated situation. It would be better for everyone to have incentive compensation as with market jobs, but the current system does not allow that. Teacher salaries would be much higher without unions.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

negotiated - of course many people have no idea about a lot of jobs as far as pay and responsibilities. But generally, they don't pontificate on message boards about jobs much, unless they're in the public sector. Suddenly, everyone's an expert, everyone's a critic. I'm not directing my comments to you, btw, to say you were pontificating about something you're uninformed about!

And *what is it* with people still having issues with most teachers not working in education in the summer? That's traditionally when teachers had to work *another job* to make ends meet.

I'd be curious to see how many people here would be willing to post what their yearly gross salary + benefits equals.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 4, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Or equaled before they lost their job and started hanging out on the internet.


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Posted by negotiated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:29 am

Hmmmm,

"But generally, they don't pontificate on message boards about jobs much, unless they're in the public sector."

People do "pontificate" about other jobs, like skyrocketing executive pay which is claimed to be undeserved.

My point was that it's either up to an individual to do something about a grievance about fair/unfair pay, otherwise it's decided by the market. With teachers, it's negotiated pay. One teacher could be working more hours, another not, they will all get the same treatment. If it was market driven, or at least partially performance driven, teachers would probably get paid more.


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Posted by another overpaid teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

This is one of the most affluent cities in the state, can afford to pay its teachers handsomely, and should be willing to do so given the cost of living here (in particular the cost of housing). I am incredibly grateful to be able to work as a teacher in this community. That said, I EARN my salary. I have a Masters Degree and three teaching credentials, and 15 years of experience as a teacher. I routinely work at least 50 hours per week, sometimes more. I manage 150 individual students on my rolls, doing the best I can for each and every one of them. I am evaluated thoroughly in my job performance every year by my supervisor and my principal. My job is a public service job - my skills could arguably be marketed at a much higher rate in the private sector, but I do what I do because I believe in public education and the important foundational role it plays in the continuing growth of a democracy. I also like working with kids, many of whom are still full of enthusiasm and positive energy that makes going to work every day a lot of fun for me, and I think giving kids a positive experience in their formative school years is a very important task that has long-lasting impacts. It's important to point out that children are not widgets, cannot be "measured" with metrics in the same way that manufactured goods can, and that this is not a "market job". It's qualitatively different type of job, because every day we are trusted with a significant task in the upbringing and character modeling of the community's children. It's not like pushing finished goods off an assembly line, no matter how much we might wish it was. All that said, unfortunately there are still crappy teachers and crappy administrators, just like there are crappy lawyers, doctors, plumbers, and engineers. It's a fact of life, always has been and always will be. Pretending that union-busting is the answer to the problem of teacher effectiveness is just simplistic wishful thinking.

The teacher's union exists for a reason - to advocate for the teachers, fight for fair working conditions, and protect teachers from unfair treatment at the hands of administrators who might otherwise summarily dismiss them and replace them with less experienced teachers who can be paid less, or for other unfair reasons, including matters relating to academic freedom and pedagogy, which is a principle worth protecting. "You could leave and go elsewhere." Well, you might end up in a private school, where the administration is free to demand whatever it wishes of you, and is also free to do things like summarily drive highly experienced teachers out of a job for petty personal reasons and/or to cut costs, as has happened repeatedly at Menlo School, Castilleja, and Sacred Heart.

Who loses in that situation? Just the children.


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Posted by negotiated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2014 at 6:20 pm

another

"It's important to point out that children are not widgets, cannot be "measured" with metrics in the same way that manufactured goods can, and that this is not a "market job". It's qualitatively different type of job, because every day we are trusted with a significant task in the upbringing and character modeling of the community's children."

Would you know how private schools establish salaries for their teachers? The metrics are probably a combination of things, and more specifically related to measures related to the teacher. In terms of the task of character upbringing, there is a lot of talk recently that it's not the job of the schools to do this type of upbringing, but the parents. This seems to change all the time.


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Posted by Smoke and mirrors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2014 at 7:40 pm

The only PAUSD teachers that are thoroughly evaluated are those in some kind of trouble. It's free passes for the rest. That's how PAEA negotiates it and they are in charge.


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Posted by An "overpaid" teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Firefighters are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers. Policemen are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers. Bart employees are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers. How exactly do public unions limit salaries? Sadly, teacher salaries have always been low, not because of unions, but because it is viewed as women's work. And in this society, women's work is not seen as valuable.

The misinformation on this board is staggering. And people masquerading as knowledgeable are obnoxiously ignorant. Why enter a space to sound off on a job and its merits when you have no actual understanding of what that job entails. Again, if you haven't been a teacher, stop commenting on our middle class salaries or work load. But believe me, if we ever get paid what a CEO does, please come on back and whine your heads off. At that point, we will have earned your derision.


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Posted by negotiated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2014 at 9:42 pm

An "overpaid"

"Firefighters are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers. Policemen are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers. Bart employees are unionized and have higher salaries than teachers."

Btw, I don't think teachers are "overpaid" - the concern seemed to be that teachers feel underpaid.

There are more teachers than firefighters, and policemen put together, and I don't think they have tenure.

The risk of losing a job is in market prices for private school teachers, so altogether, it may be public school teachers are not underpaid.


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Posted by stats
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

It's worth pointing out that on average, private school teachers make FAR less than public school teachers. Source: Web Link

The rare exceptions are here in Silicon Valley and in other micro-markets with elite schools that charge very high tuition and have very wealthy donors. Sacred Heart has an actual salary scale that is based on years of experience. Menlo, on the other hand, has confidential teacher salary data. It's widely known among faculty there that the former head of school used this confidentiality as leverage against teachers in negotiations in an extremely biased manner. There was no transparency there.


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Posted by negotiated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 6, 2014 at 8:58 am

stats,

"It's widely known among faculty there that the former head of school used this confidentiality as leverage against teachers in negotiations in an extremely biased manner. There was no transparency there."

This is the sort of thing where the employer either has fair practices or not, it's unfortunately not always a transparent process, but the advantage of a market is that a person can price themselves in other ways. The more dynamic the economy, the better it is.

The missing part of this picture is administration of public schools. They have guaranteed customers, who are forced to the one size fits all system. This price of school is not carried by anyone other than the students.


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