Chicago Teachers: The Math

At the expense of 350,000 children in Chicago, selfish and greedy teachers who live in a fantasy economy continue their strike.  All things considered, their average annual salary is $116,500 versus the average private sector worker (taxpayer who funds teacher pay) at $47,500.  They should end the strike now and get back to work.

Let’s do the math on being a Chicago teacher versus being one of the taxpayers paying said teachers.  First, the average base salary for a Chicago teacher is $71,000 for a 38 week year.  Because teachers do not need to contribute to their pension as private sector workers do, add $14,000 to their pay (the typical private sector worker must fund their own retirement and may put $15,500 a year in their 401k, adjusted for potential matching employer contributions I reduced the amount to $14,000).  That average pay now adds up to $85,000.

Add to this the fact that they work 38 weeks a year, not an average of 49 weeks a year as the typical non-teacher taxpayer.  As such, add 23% of their pay to that because they work 23% less time in a year.  Now the AVERAGE pay is at $104,550.  This versus the AVERAGE pay in the private sector working in Chicago at $47,500.  Teachers may choose not to work during their 14 weeks a year that they have off, but the rest of us do work during those weeks.  (One of my favorite teacher comments:  “I have to work 2 jobs”.   Well, if you do, congratulations- you now work the same amount of time that the people who fund your compensation do).

Now, add in the lifetime healthcare that the Chicago teachers get, including their extremely generous health benefits in retirement.  This value is more difficult to calculate, but is likely worth an incremental $2,000 per year while employed, and $10,000 a year in retirement.  Since retirement lasts approximately as long as their working life, it is fair to add $12,000 to their annual pay.  Now the AVERAGE pay for teachers is $116,550 if described in the same terms that all us private sector workers operate under.  This does not account for the fact that a teacher’s pension is most likely the equivalent of $1.5-3 million in value, and very few private sector workers will ever have anything near that value in their 401k when they retire.

This is in a profession where you are virtually guaranteed employment no matter how you perform, where your raises are automatic each year and again not linked with performance.  Where the people in the profession fight any objective or quantitative assessment of their performance.  This is a complete and utter disconnect from the American economy and a capitalist society.

A last few comments about the Chicago teacher’s strike and teachers in general.  Having 4 children, I know the tremendous value of a great teacher, and I know the damage that can be done by a bad one.  I think we should find a way to reward those great teachers and give them excellent earnings upside, and find a way to address poor teachers with improvement plans or through prompt termination if they don’t improve.

What I see in Chicago is a group of “professionals” who are putting themselves first (children a distant second), who have no idea of what life is like in our economy, and who are a spoiled and entitled group that are mostly way overpaid.  I wonder as I see video of the protests, and see the signs the teachers are carrying, and the comments they make, and I think to myself:  If I lived in Chicago, and this group was teaching my children, I would move.

Chicago teachers, count your blessings and get back to work!

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3 Responses to Chicago Teachers: The Math

  1. Walt Witt says:

    They need all that money. After all almost 40% have their own children in private school.

    • vofreason says:

      Thanks for your comment Walt, and for reading my blog. The interesting thing, in addition to your comment, is part of the teacher unrest is due to the success of charter schools. And part of their beef with the contract is they want to restrict the number of charter schools. Why? Because charter schools are bad for the children? Of course not! Because charter schools are bad for public school teachers because they show that at market-competitive wages the charter schools do a far better job of educating children. If the teachers put children first they would celebrate this, but of course children are a very distant second to these teachers. Very sad, and destructive.

  2. Bueti, Rick says:

    Dan, excellent synopsis. What’s Rahm Emmaneul’s take on this? Pro Union, no doubt.

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