Pay Statistics on Teachers Way Off

RECEIVED Mon., Oct. 15, 2007

Dear Editor,
    Richard Whittaker's article featuring statistics galore from the National Compensation Survey was interesting indeed [“Does It Really Pay to Work in Austin?” News, Oct. 12]. I'd like to point out one false statistic concerning number of hours worked per year. The sentence states 2,119 hours per year for managers, 2,215 by automotive technicians, and 1,488 by elementary- and secondary-school teachers. I guess someone (i.e., the Bureau of Labor Statistics) arrived at the figure for teachers inaccurately by multiplying 40 hours per week by number of weeks worked per year, which they assumed was 37. This would be a minimum, not an average. Probably figuring three months off for summer, when it is realistically two, the number of weeks worked is actually 41. I speak from experience because my wife has taught kindergarten and first grade for 13 years. Also, there's never a 40-hour workweek. She averages closer to 50, and that doesn't include extras like Parent Teacher Association meetings, back-to-school nights, science night, math night, literacy night, etc. So the actual yearly number of hours is well over 2,000, not nearly as few as the article implies.
    In addition to school time, there's homework, lesson planning, phone calls to parents, shopping for supplies not provided by the district, dealing with the stress of unrealistic demands, and the list goes on. Texas doesn't allow a union for teachers. Their salary doesn't compare to other college-educated professionals. Teachers who don't give up only stay in the profession because they love children and want to educate them to offer the best possible chance of "making it" in this society. This society, faced with war, global warming, and so many other critical issues, continues to keep education reform on the back burner. Hopefully, teachers, who are being held "accountable" for future generations, will continue to inspire creative problem-solvers. Everyone reading this has a teacher to thank.
Jeff Farris
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