So, how is the allegedly greedy, overpaid teacher in New Jersey faring these days? Well, the National Education Association has put out its annual report on state-level school finances, including information about teacher salaries. Go to page 20 to the "PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN AVERAGE SALARIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS 2001–02 TO 2011–12 (CONSTANT $)," which is the inflation-adjusted change in each state's average teacher salary. New Jersey ranks #22 in this change:
New Jersey's average teacher salary is less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it was back in 2001.22. NEW JERSEY –0.5 *
Now in all fairness, that doesn't mean that the same teacher in 2001 is making less today than back then: teachers move up their salary guides and earn more each year. Older teachers retire at the "top of the guide" and are replaced by younger teachers starting out at the bottom. But the decrease in average pay suggests that the lifetime earnings of a teacher in New Jersey have decreased from a decade ago.
Worse, we're not even counting the changes in pensions and benefits that have eroded teacher pay since Christie took office. Breaking his explicit promise to teachers, Christie brokered a deal with Democratic turncoats that increased pension contributions immediately to 6.5% of salary, and will grow to 7.5% by 2018. The deal also eliminated COLAs, so the value of the pension is shrinking while the teacher contribution grows.
The deal also saw teachers pay more for their health care: up to 35% of the cost of the premium, which translates into thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses for the same (or worse) level of coverage.
The upshot? New Jersey's teachers have taken a huge hit on inflation-adjusted take-home pay over the last decade. No one can ever accuse us of not "sharing in the sacrifice." But mark my words: when Chris Christie's fiscal Ponzi scheme comes crashing down and he's forced to find billions more each year to meet his pension obligations, he will point the finger at teachers first.
That is, unless this state wakes up, realizes this man is an utter fraud, and boots him out of office before he can make his mess even worse. Let's hope we can make that happen within the next nine months; if we don't, it's going to get even uglier around here.
And it's pretty damn ugly right now.