I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Overpaid Teachers? As If!

When Chris Christie first came on the scene, he would go on and on about greedy teachers getting big raises while everyone else was struggling. What he failed to tell his constituents is that most NJ teacher contracts are for three years; that means there is a lag in wage inflation changes between the general workforce and teachers.

Now it's been a few years since the recession hit. How are those "overpaid" teachers doing?
Average teacher raises continue a downward trend, while school boards negotiate more instructional time, NJSBA  reported this week.
The average teacher raise for 2012-2013 is 2.42 percent, according to NJSBA. More than a third (38 percent) of districts report settlements at 2 percent or lower for this current school year. In 2011-2012, the average settlement rate was 3.19 percent.
Teacher contracts in New Jersey typically last for three years. Recently settled 2012-2013 contracts (agreements reached since July 1 of last year) show average raises of 2.36 percent – lower than the settlement rate for all 2012-2013 contracts.
I'm no economist, so I don't know if this is an apples-to-apples comparison. But the national employment cost index is 1.7%. Doesn't seem to me that teachers are riding high.

Of course, that's not even counting the fact that NJ teachers are paying more into their pensions and getting less back. Or that teachers this year have doubled their contributions to their health benefits (and that will double again in another two years). So take home pay for many teachers has probably gone down.

And we're working longer:
 In addition to curbing salary increases, teacher contracts are reflecting a trend toward more instruction time.
More than a quarter (26 percent) of 2012-2013 contracts contain an increase in work time, up from 14 percent in the previous year.  Some examples of additional work time include adding days to the school year, adding time to the school day, and restructuring the day to allow for more student-teacher contact.
Keep in mind that US teachers already work more hours than any other developed country:

And that teacher wages didn't keep pace with average NJ wages in the last two decades.

But, hey, if that discourages any of you from entering the classroom, you obviously don't have the "passion." That "passion" is Chris Christie's excuse to screw teachers out of a professional salary; it's also the excuse his conservative acolytes on school boards use to call teachers unions "greedy."

But his staff's payroll is up 14%. Nice.

But I need those people to find new ways to blame teachers for... everything!

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