-By Warner Todd Huston
As the Obama economy tumbles farther and farther down into depression, as states begin to face the reality of a budget crunch that can only be solved by layoffs of public employees, and as teachers find they are open to those layoffs, we commonly hear teachers claim that they are perennially underpaid and don't deserve layoffs. Yet the Chicago Tribune has found that nearly half the teachers in many of Chicago's ritziest suburbs are making over $100,000 a year in salary.
The Tribune reviewed the salary information of 132,000 Illinois teachers and in Highland Park, Deerfield, Park Ridge, Hinsdale, and other Chicago area suburbs it found that in some cases half the teachers -- and in other cases over 40% -- make $100K yearly (not including benefits) even as the educational system in Illinois crying poor and cutting staff.
The Trib found that only four percent of Illinois teachers make the big bucks, but those higher salaries are concentrated in the Chicago suburbs in question. "In all, 32 Chicago-area districts paid at least 20 percent of their teachers six figures -- five times the state average."
Naturally these teachers say they deserve the pay scale and their unions certainly won't try to put sensible limits on anything. But this raises the question of just how much a teacher is worth? Remember the old argument questioning why a factory worker that puts a nut on a bolt would make $30 an hour for such unskilled labor? Do teachers deserve $100K even if they are the best of the best? How much is too much especially in a day and age when money is tight and so many are losing their jobs?
The Trib also found the highest paid Illinois teacher:
A now-retired physical education teacher and longtime football coach at Addison Trail High School in DuPage County earned more than $184,000 in 2008-09 -- the highest teacher salary in the Tribune's analysis. He had 35 years of teaching experience and a master's degree, all factors that boosted his salary.
A phys ed teacher and coach? Does a simple jock warrant almost $200,000 a year?? He isn't a rocket scientist... heck he may not even know what science IS being a mere phys ed teacher!
We all want what's fair for teachers and, yes, their job is supremely important. However, should a high school or grade school teacher make as much as a surgeon or highly educated and skilled doctor, lawyer or judge?
Further, should a mere phys ed teacher be making almost $200,000 a year while a new teacher gets laid off? Should one guy be making what could pay two teacher's salaries?
We really need to take some pains to address this situation.
(Originally posted at TheUnionLabelBlog.com)