Average public school teacher paid more than median household income

CNS News reports.


The average public school teacher in the United States is paid more in base salary alone for just the work he or she does during the school year than the median U.S. household earns in an entire year.

In the 2011-2012 school year, according to a newly released report by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, the average base salary for a full-time public school teacher in the United States was $53,100 for the regular school year—not counting any earnings made for summer work.

In 2011, the latest year estimated by the Census Bureau, median household income in the United States was $50,054.

Thus, the average base salary paid to a public school teacher for the regular school year was $3,064 more than the income the median household made in an entire year.

According to the NCES, many public school teachers are paid additional money—over and above their base salaries—by the public school systems that employ them. For example, 41.8 percent are paid an average of $2,500 during the school year to work in extracurricular activities; 4.4 percent get an average of $1,400 during the school year in compensation based on their students’ performance; and 7.9 percent get an average of $2,100 during the school year from other school-system sources.

Also, 16.1 percent of public school teachers have a second job outside the school system that employs them as a teacher. These teachers earn an average of $4,800 during the school year from those outside jobs.

When all sources of teacher income are taken into account, according to the NCES, the average teacher income during the 2011-2012 school year was $55,100.

If two public school teachers were married to one another, and each earned only a public school teacher’s average base salary of $53,100; their combined income would be $106,200. That is 212 percent of the nation’s median household income.

And what are you paying for, exactly?

One of the reasons why I think that teachers should not be paid so much is because they are not accountable when they do wrong. Thanks to teachers unions, it’s almost impossible to fire them. I can understand paying people less when they have more job security, but we are paying teachers more and they have tons of job security. How much job security? Well, consider this story about a public school teacher who molested one of his students and was convicted of rape. That part is not surprising. What is surprising is how seven of his female colleagues wrote letters on his behalf to try to get him a lighter sentence. Do you think that those seven teachers will be fired for doing that? Guess again.

One of the character witnesses is the rapist’s own wife:

High school teacher Toni Erickson is the wife of child rapist Neal Erickson.  Clearly, Mrs. Erickson has exhibited loyalty toward her husband and is willing to overlook that he molested an eighth grade boy for three years, and that is very touching.  But what’s scary is that from Toni’s lopsided perspective, the child is less a victim than the rapist.

In her letter to the judge on Neal’s behalf, Mrs. Erickson said this:

As for punishment, because I know that is something the community expects, hasn’t he been punished enough? He is losing a job he has held for 17 years [during three of which he was raping a child] and losing all future career potential as a teacher.

It’s clear that Toni seems more upset about the damage to her husband’s future than the physical and psychological damage he imposed on a child.  Mrs. Erickson also blames the community for demanding what she apparently feels is a disproportionate level of punishment, and deems herself qualified to determine how much penance for a child rapist is penance enough.

Toni’s moral position that statutory rape is not harmful to children was further exposed when she said,

I have seen many delightful students who have been damaged by horrible events in their lives. While I acknowledge that Neal’s conduct with [a victim he found ‘delightful’] was wrong, I do not believe [the 14-year-old] was damaged by Neal’s action[s].

Furthermore, she said,

“I base my opinion on my personal interaction with [the boy], both before and after Neal’s actions. However [my daughter] very likely could be [damaged]. Please don’t punish her by [her father’s] absence in her life.”

So according to a woman who has overseen a high school classroom for 15 years, jailing a dangerous predator is cruel, because when he’s not molesting boys, Neal is needed to father their daughter?

Would you like to get your money back from the public school system and send your child to a school that is accountable to you? Well, tough. You can’t. You can’t even have them fired when they condone raping children. If they’re not going to be accountable, then I don’t see why they should be paid so much.

29 thoughts on “Average public school teacher paid more than median household income”

  1. Yes, and don’t forget: teachers have a captive audience who must parrot the teacher’s beliefs for a grade. Let’s just say that teachers develop a HIGHLY inflated sense of self based on all the sucking up that is done to them by kids and their parents.

    And, many teachers are not terribly intelligent: our high school pom-pom squad seemed to train a lot of them. The Education Dept. in some universities is easier to get into than the P.E. Dept.

    Then, there are the teachers who like to tell their students they can’t say anything negative about the current POTUS, or they could be jailed. That’ll teach ’em!

    I say this as a former university professor, former homeschool teacher, and as the son of a teacher. So, if you disagree with me, I will respond that you are an education-phobe. :-)

  2. my base teaching salary was only $28,000, I don’t think this is a fair average of teachers’ salaries.

    1. That could still be quite good these days, Sis, with the tens of millions more people being plunged into poverty under Obamonomics the past 5 years.

      Besides, these are averages. If I remember correctly, $34K was roughly the median entry level teaching pay in Illinois a few years back for instance. But, if you work in a low cost rural town in Illinois, you might be paid a good bit less.

      There is a pretty wide variation on median entry level pay for teachers across states, as well, but it is still pretty good compared with what all the people are being paid who are now having their hours cut due to ObamaDoesntCare.

      And we won’t even get into the fringe benefits and job security – that’s where the big advantage to teaching is. So, I am guessing that you are quoting an entry or very low level teaching salary in a lower cost state or more rural area of a medium cost state perhaps? Surely you are not teaching in the Chicago Public School System, where entry level begins at roughly $50K?

  3. Your conclusions are misleading. I get paid less than the median and I am entering my 7th year. And yes, there are bad apples like there are in every profession.

    1. Yes, but the bad apples in other professions get fired – rapidly. Not true in teaching: once those bad apples make tenure, they get rottener and rottener. :-)

      1. I will agree with you on that. But Christian students in the public school system can have an impact on these teachers who then can have a more positive impact on others after that, if these students are not put in homeschool or private schools. They can at least be a light to the other students in the classrooms who are only hearing a one sided argument from a bad teacher.

        1. Sure, Adam. And we can also drop off our precious developing children, who we are Biblically required to raise up properly, at the Red Light District. After all, they can be a “light” (pun intended) there as well. Perhaps we should abandon our children to the nearest Planned Murder-in-the-Hood “clinic” where they can volunteer on Saturdays and be a “light” to the abortionists.

          When you drop off your kids at the nearest public school, you are abandoning them to the one-sided far left anti-Christian culture of pro-aborts, “Michael Has Two Daddies” books, transgender sensitivity training, etc. Trust me: I was on that side for decades.

          But, if you feel that your 6 year old, or even high-schooler is sufficiently trained up in hard-core Christian apologetics, has served on the mission field in countries where Christians are being softly persecuted, has demonstrated outside of abortion clinics, etc, then please feel free to do so. I must commend you on the fine job of raising your children. But, please do not use “children as light” for rationalization as to just what you are doing when you drop them off.

          And, if you feel that a Christian student is going to convert a brainwashed leftist school teacher by being “nice” in class (or did you train them up to have the courage to preach the Gospel in school?), then you fail to understand the spiritual forces at play here.

          1. World Gone Crazy,
            I do drop my 6 and 7 year old off at public school. And guess what? They still believe in God! In fact, most of the teachers are Christians. Our boys are able to have an impact on unchurched kids. And when their friends come over, we can have another impact on them.
            I teach in high school. And guess what? Most teachers are Christians! There are some atheist. But the Christian students sniff them out pretty quickly. And if they aren’t sure about something, they know they can come to me.
            I do not fail to understand the spiritual forces at work. I am in the middle of it and see amazing things happening that would never be reported by the liberal media or websites like this, because they both have agendas.
            As far as our children being lights, if they are Christians that is what they are. That is now rationalizing, that is pure Gospel!
            The alternatives aren’t that much better. Those who go to Christian schools are doing the same activities as those in public school. Maybe even more so because they feel suppressed. And those that are homeschooled cannot relate to their peers and are less effective in evangelizing.

    2. Adam, most teachers are Christian?!? Not in my part of the Bible Belt! But I sure don’t know how you would know that.

      Let’s assume, for the sake of argument that you are correct that most teachers are Christian. What difference does it make if they have to teach godless, anti-Christian, politically correct, liberal fascism to their students? You claim to know the Gospel, and I will assume you do, but your kids’ teachers cannot express it! How does that help again? Just who is being a “light” to who in the public schools? Because the trend is that believers children are seriously harmed by the wonderful public school system, without which it is a miracle that civilization advanced over thousands of years. :-)

      As for your kids, please let me know how they are doing in 14-15 years – with regard to their relationship with God. They’ve been in the system for a couple of years. It takes time, comrade, to do the devil’s work. :-)

      As for homechoolers, please do not talk about things you are ignorant of. Every study has shown that homeschoolers are much MORE effective at relating to adults (do you really want your kids “relating” to the lowest common denominator of their peers?!?), are MUCH more articulate, are much MORE likely to be involved in their community, and are much better at sharing the Gospel. (Because it hasn’t been watered down by anti-Christian forces.)

      I can pick out a homeschooler in 30 seconds from a bunch of public school kids. She is the only one who isn’t looking at her cell phone, is engaging with the adult in the room, and is actually communicating with humanity.

        1. Thank you, WK! And remember too that public schools used to collect data on the standardized testing results for homeschoolers in their districts. Then, in the very early 1990’s, they suddenly stopped collecting this data. Why? Because they didn’t like the results they were getting!

          How infuriating to the elitists in the public schools that a barefoot and pregnant Mom (the best kind – always) with no college education could outperform (by 30 percentile points on average and at one-tenth the cost) the “sophisticated” public school system – without which civilization would never have advanced?!? :-)

          Not to mention that most homeschoolers hear the Bible every day – yes, even in class time! Where IS the ACLU when you need them?!?

      1. My job is to foster my child’s relationship with God no matter what environment they are in. I will direct them in the same way hundreds of Christians I’ve personally known have guided their children in the the Way and whose children still have a personal relationship with God even though they went to public schools. We can overprotect our children. We can keep open lines of communication with them so that when things come up at school, they know they can talk with us about it. I will also be monitoring my children’s computer and cell phone activity so I will know when things aren’t right. I’ve observed that lot of “Christian” kids who fall away had parents who either did too much of this and smothered the kids or hardly did any of it. I’m not dumb enough to leave the raising of my kids to others. But I’m pragmatic enough to know I can’t protect them from things forever and it would be better for them to be exposed to worldly things when they’re in high school when I can guide them than to pretend that my blinding them from the world isn’t going to cause them to go after the world when they are on their on.
        Your comment on homeschooling proves my point. Yes, they can relate to adults, but not their own peers who they will be going to college and having careers with. They’re not on their cell phone because they have few friends their age to communicate with. You can pick them out because they don’t know how to relate to their peers. They many times miss social cues. We must not forget that these peers are simply children who need people like you and other Christian teenagers in their life to show them how God intended for us to live. And, I would argue with how much more involved they are in the community. A lot of my students are very involved in the community. Jesus did talk about doing things for the least of these, aka, the lowest denominator in many cases. Let’s not water down what Jesus has directed us to do. Let’s encourage our children to be the light in the community that Jesus talked about. You know, most of Jesus’ 12 disciples were more than likely teenagers when he called them and sent them out into the world.

  4. In my state, Texas, there is not really tenure, just working under the wing of someone that might protect you when you get into trouble. As far as indoctrinating students, both conservatives and liberals are guilty of it. In regards to pay, teacher salary might start out higher than other professions, but it will never go much higher than what you are thinking. In my school district base pay for 0 experience is about $43,000 dollars. 20 years later you max out at $50,000. So, no teachers are not raking it in like you are thinking.

    Where I work you are held accountable. More accountable than most professions. For example, if I fail to respond to a parent email in time, I will get ripped by a parent and then I have to get lectured from my appraiser have to just take it. If you are not wanted on campus, someone higher up will let you know that it is time for you go.

    If you want to blame someone for not running a good school, blame administrations, not all of the teachers. We are an understaffed, overworked, and for the most part, under appreciated group of professionals. Most of the criticism that I hear is from guess who? PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER WORKED AS A TEACHER! And no, teaching Sunday school does not count. If you have any complaints as a parent, please notify the school your kids go to. Or pull them out and put them in a private school.

    For the most part, I think I make great pay as a teacher and coach. I love my job and I do not do it for the money. If I ever did lose my love for the job, I would walk away and work in the oil field where I would make about $20,000 more than I make currently, and have more free time with my family. I work hard for my money, but there are some, just like in any other profession that are lazy and do not earn their keep.

    1. Please give ma an example of conservative indoctrination in public schools. Something on the order of GLBT sensitivity training. I do need a laugh today.

      $43K – $50K for 10 months sounds pretty good to me – especially in Texas! (That’s in the range of starting civil engineering salaries in Texas.) Heck of a thing to complain about when millions more have been plunged into poverty by – oh, yeah, it’s still Bush’s fault. How are the benefits BTW?

      If, as you say, there is no tenure in Texas, then that is a good, albeit rare, welcome change. One more reason to love Texas! You have still described that it is more difficult to fire teachers than in private industry, where “have a nice career, here is security to escort you off the premises” still holds.

      I agree that administration is the problem. So, what, pray tell, is the cause of bloated public school administration? We both know the answer to that.

      Lots of people are in understaffed, overworked professions. You just MIGHT be overworked in the oil fields. :-) Heck of a thing to complain about when poverty levels are at a 50 year high.

      As for “underappreciated,” you made my day – but I think I hurt myself falling out of my chair. How much sucking up do you need?!? I experienced it and I loved having control over those sheep, and their parents, in my classroom.

      Finally, how has the public school student performance changed over the past 50 years? Because that’s the bottom line, right? If Mommy with no college degree can homeschool her kids and outperform the public school by about 30 percentile points on average (and with no statistical disparity between minorities, unlike the public school system), then maybe it’s time to give back some of that pay.

      On a nice note, I LOVE Texas, probably for the reasons you don’t. And, I am sure that Texas does a MUCH better job of educating their public school students at a reasonable cost than most states. (Their governor certainly knows a LOT more about economics than the Poverty President.)

      1. In the words of Joe Biden, your reply has “a lot of stuff”, so let me try to unpack it from a personnel prospective.

        No agenda needs to be taught in school whether it be conservative or liberal. It is not our job to create “parrots”, but to educated and encourage students to better themselves any teacher that cannot keep their political or religious views out of their job does not need to be in the classroom. If there are teachers like this in your area schools, it is up to you to let the administration know and make them do something about it.

        Salary wise, I agree with you assessment. The pay is great in my area, but it has to be to lure teachers here. So i do not complain about my pay. As I said before, I think I get paid well. I disagree with you in regards to on how much I or the vast majority of my colleagues work. Also my workday begins at 6 am and ends at 5 pm and most days I bring work home. Also, I am a fan of Bush. Voted for him twice. Benefits vary from school district to school district. In regards to people losing their jobs, there is a lot of work up in the Dakotas so I do not feel sorry for people who are still jobless after 5 years since this depression. I had co-workers that received the pat on the back a few years ago and were non renewed. In my, at least from what I have seen, we are not immune to losing our jobs. If you do something wrong, you get fired or a reprimand based on the severity of the infraction and reprimands do stack. 3 and you are gone.

        I am not sure about your area, but we are not busting at the seams with teachers in our state. I have been by administrators in Texas that our last budget sequester cause severe damage to our collegiate education. Many prospective teachers switched major due to a bleak outlook for their fields.

        In regards to appreciation, that is not the same thing, at least in my eyes, as sucking up. Appreciation is a thankful recognition. Personally, I do not care if I a parent ever “sucks up” to me. However, if we have a conflict regarding a students, I would appreciate it if they would act professional with me and my colleagues when discussing a matter rather than go a level above me. I also do not want sheep in my class.

        The way to fix the system is to eliminate standardized testing, have more teachers, have unbiased instruction, and take power away from individual parents.

        In regards to Texas, I was raised by a conservative family and still hold most of their values. I am an agnostic, but get along better with believers. I love the food, low cost of living, and the government for the most part leaving me alone. And Perry is just ok.

        1. I see that you did not give an example of conservative indoctrination. But, liberal indoctrination is rampant. You say neither should happen, but one side is!

          Nor did you address the abysmally low performance-to-cost ratio of public schools versus homeschools.

          Strange that a conservative or libertarian would be quoting Joe Biden. Not much brain mass in Crazy Uncle Joe’s head.

          1. Well of course there is indoctrination that take place. It just does not happen on the scope of what you are thinking in area that I work. I also said that there should be no indoctrination, not that there was none taking place.

            Public school vs home school, good for the parents, but take into account that they do not have a large class size and there is no start and stop time. I am sure most teachers would do wonders if we only had to teach one or two kids daily. And yes, private school are always going to have better schools because they can screen their students prior to entry or kick them out.

            In regards to quoting Joe Biden, I did that because you are crazy like a fox, like him. We all know what the problems are in public education, but they are not one sided(liberal) as you and the writer of this blog are stating. This piece was just mud slinging that tries to make most teachers seems like careless rapist and molesters. Conservatives and liberals both enjoy complaining about the state of teaching, but I do not see very many people complaining and yanking their kids out of school and enrolling them in a private school. Most would not be able to afford it even if they gained back the taxes they are spending on public education. Also, most parents cannot and should not teach their own children at home. I know my parents could not even though they were hard workers.

            So, instead of whining about have and have nots, like most teachers I know do, try to come up with ideas that are not laden with sarcasm. Teachers know testing is low and the good teachers are trying to fix it. However, that cannot be done with out support from a community.

    2. Sorry for being overly sarcastic and ungraceful, Julian. (Seriously.) I am in WK’s “University of Grace” Program – Semester 1, but I am already flunking. :-) Actually, WK and I are competing to see who can be the most snarky. He is winning, but based on my bounced comments, I am still in the running. :-)

      Homeschool is not good for the parents, public school is. It is far easier to drop your kids off at the public school and hand over their education to someone else than to do the hard work yourself. Homeschooling, on the other hand, is VERY hard on the parents – one less income and a LOT more work (who said teaching was easy? Not me!). Public school is easy on the parents and allows for extra income to buy SUV’s and big screen TV’s. We did both: I speak from experience.

      You are correct that it is easier for homeschooled students to finish their days earlier, because they can go at their own pace – not at the pace of the class median. My kids were usually done by noon.

      Thank you for calling me “crazy like a fox.” In the case of Joe Biden, I prefer to just use the term “crazy.” :-) Even so, I think you might be correct about a mental resemblance to Joe. :-)

      You ask for solutions. My solution is to shut down the public school system, eliminate the Dept. of Education (which is nothing more than a front for education unions and the Democrat Party), and place the responsibility back on the parents where it belongs. (Do you think that is too drastic? :-)) If barefoot and pregnant women with no college degree can whup (academically speaking, but maybe in other ways too :-)) the public school system, then maybe we should admit failure. Many of our nations founders were homeschooled, and they seem to have turned out ok.

  5. World Gone Crazy,
    I too teach in Texas. The benefits are not that great. Perry is low on education, and blame is always put on the teachers. Both from the top and from Christians who don’t appear to have ever walked in our shoes.

    1. Adam, move. Plus, your statement is self-refuting. You say that Christians have not walked in your shoes, but up above, you say that most teachers are Christians! Well, which one is it?

      1. Sorry, thought it was obvious. I’m talking about Christian parents and tax payers who haven’t been teachers in the public school system and don’t see the whole picture. You would obviously disagree and I respect that. But realistically, the dept. of education isn’t going anywhere and we have a public school system that needs our help. We can’t give up on it because it’s not going away. If we leave it to itself and pull our Christian children out, think about how much worse the long term impact of that will be on our society.

  6. What would a fair salary be for a teacher in your opinion? I am a teacher and coach two sports. Most of the days during the school year I am working at least 10 hours, often much more. I coach on weekends, plan lessons on nights and weekends, and grade papers on nights and weekends. My base salary as a 7th year teacher is just over $40000, and I live in a suburban area in MN. I work more in 10 months than most of my non-teacher friends work in their entire year.

    Most teachers teach because they love kids, not to indoctrinate the kids some leftist agenda. I know lots of Christians that teach in the public arena, so they can impact kids for Christ. I am able to use my relationship with students and athletes to lead a Bible study outside of school.

    I think the bigger issue you don’t even address, is why is the median salary only $50000?

    1. Well, I am for pay based on merit, not based on tenure. I don’t think that a teacher should be paid independently of performance, and I think parents should have a choice.

      1. I as a teacher would agree. I get extremely frustrated when I hear of students describe how other teachers teach (or don’t teach) yet get paid the same as I do. Other teachers who actually do their job feel the same way. The same thing applied when I was a police officer before going into education. Some officers stayed at the station all day doing nothing while some of us actually did our jobs on the streets but got paid the same. The documentary Saving Superman had great recommendations from the former Washington DC superintendent that were shot down by those teacher unions. Maybe if more parents and voters were educated on these issues when they went to the ballot boxes then things would change for the better.

      2. I teach at a charter school with no tenure, so it is a move in the right direction. I tend to agree with you, but am yet to hear a good way to judge merit. You can’t exactly do it based on student performance, because what if a student doesn’t care. You can’t base it on a degree it on additional education, because most masters of education programs are just a easy way to get a raise. You can’t do it on graduation rate, because schools will just start graduating everyone. A teacher’s merit is a hard thing to nail down. The best system I have seen is a combination of a lot of factors.

        My main issue with your article is you paint teachers as rapists, or defenders of rapists…It feels like you are judging the majority, using an example of the minorities.

    2. Josh, how can a Christian teacher “impact kids for Christ?” By teaching the required anti-Christian curriculum during the day, and then calling them up at home at night and saying “By the way, Jonny, all that stuff I taught in class today is wrong?!?”

      I’ll tell you why the median salary is only $50K. Because if you have an off day, Josh, and accidentally teach the kids that Abraham Lincoln was the father of our country, or that 2 + 2 = 5, what are the consequences to that? Nothing! It will get caught soon enough, next year, or at some point.

      But, if a civil engineer has an off day, bad things happen – bridges, buildings, and dams collapse. And they have to work all year long, more on the holidays too, extra hours, and with no union. Oh, and they can be fired for their “off” days.

      Given the horribly declining performance, incredible white-to-minority disparity in performance, and skyrocketing costs of public school education, I am shocked that $50K is the median. How about working for free until we get performance back up to the 1950’s levels? Then, I will give you $100K per year. But, my money is safe. :-)

      1. I don’t think that $100K per year for teachers who produce is enough money. But there are a lot of teachers who should be fired, and we can’t fire them because of the unions which protect teachers who underperform. No private sector company is like that – they all have to compete with each other to offer the customer more quality and value for less money. We have been spending more and more money on public education for decades, but performance has not improved to match that of other countries like South Korea, which are doing much more with less. Could it be that our schools spend too much time teaching about why America is a terrible country and why capitalism is bad and why global warming is real? I.e. – too much time on indoctrination?

        1. WK,
          I wouldn’t say indoctrination is it. I would say bad policies like No Child Left Behind that dumbs our school system done to the lowest performing kid who has figured out he doesn’t have to work and can still pass is the issue. We do need logic and philopsophy classes that teach students how to think so the truth of Christianity is more obvious.

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