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.....
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.
Posted by luc deshamp, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, 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...)
Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 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.
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.
Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:02 am
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.
Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, 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.
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.
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?
Posted by teacher , a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, 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.