Commentary: Teachers Have Legitimate Concerns About Compensation, Particularly Health Care



Yesterday’s column by the Davis Teachers Association Executive Board raised some interesting issues.  A few people expressed concerns that the piece was overly negative.  The district finally has a little breathing room and the board took a balanced approach to using the new funding, including a small but notable 2% pay hike plus a one-time 2% increase.

While the DTA board probably should have made the point more clearly that this was a good start, the core issue is something that the community needs to grapple with.

As we learned in February, the health premium for the district costs about $1600 per month with the district covering $951 of that and the rest is covered by employees, about $650 a month or $7800 per year.

The DTA argues that the 2% increase is not “truly” a pay raise, but “a partial cost of living adjustment.”

As they argue, “What this increase does is cause our teachers and other members to fall behind the cost of living a little more slowly.”

They continued, “For the better part of a decade we have seen our salaries stagnate, with no increase to the salary scale at all, and in that time a one year cut of 2.7%, during which year the District actually increased its reserves. In reality, each year our salaries have declined in real dollars as the cost of living has increased.”

They add, “This does not even take into account the increased out-of-pocket costs of health care premiums, with some of our members paying more than $1,000 a month out of pocket for their benefits. It also does not include increased class sizes, responsibilities, caseloads, expectations, and many more concerns piled upon us as we were told to do more with less.”

One poster argued, “I think you should be a little more honest. You somehow have forgotten to mention that your salary schedule has automatic step increases. So unless you have been teaching for 20+ years you have been getting annual increases in your pay over the past decade.”

Another poster countered, “The salary scale has not changed in all this time. People do move up the scale each year for ten years, then every other year for ten years, then never again. A very high percentage DJUSD teachers are at the top of the scale and will never receive another increase. The out of pocket benefit costs have increased so much that some young teachers have gone up a step in salary but taken home less money per month.”

Both sides of this issue make some good points.

First, teachers have been hit largely by stagnant wages over the last decade.  While that means their salaries have not kept up with inflation, they have not taken huge pay cuts that we have seen in other areas of our community.

Second, the pay issue is difficult to assess because of the state of the economy and that the fact that taxpayers have been asked in Davis to pick up an increasing tab to avoid more layoffs.  As we once stated, there are appropriate and inappropriate times for pay increases.  The board here deserves some credit in giving teachers some relief while balancing the overall needs of the district.

On the other hand, it is my view at least that teachers do not get compensated nearly enough, and while it is true that people can argue that teachers only work for nine months, it is also true that other vocations are dispersed in unique ways.  Firefighters, for example, only work a couple of days a week and yet make far more than their teaching counterparts.

For me, however, the biggest issue that the district needs to figure out a way to tackle is health care.

The district believes that they provide better coverage than most districts our size.  And the district believes they cannot ever cover full health.

A $200 per month increase in costs for teachers, on top of having to pay $100 to $150, is putting a huge strain on the teacher’s ability to live on their current income.  Many teachers will receive a net decrease in pay this year.

A full time city employee receives $1657.86 for medical, $220.64 for Dental, $5.90 for life and $35 for LTD (Long Term Disability), for a total of $1920.40.

The stunning thing is a half-time, 50% employee receives $956.75 from the city, slightly more than what the school district contributes to medical coverage for teachers.

The inequities in pay and benefits for teachers versus city employees is very striking.

The district may be correct that it can never offer full health coverage, but what should that tell us about our priorities?

The DTA board concluded their piece arguing that the district “is now financially better off than it was when it showed that $2,000,000 favorability. While we hear the District’s affirmations that the new state funding formulas still do not make the District whole, neither does the 2% increase make our members whole—far from it.”

This is clearly something that we have to figure out before we lose good young teachers that otherwise figure to be the backbone of another generation of education for Davis.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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87 thoughts on “Commentary: Teachers Have Legitimate Concerns About Compensation, Particularly Health Care”

  1. Barack Palin

    “Firefighters for example only work a couple of days a week and yet make far more than their teaching counterparts.”

    There you go again, you compare teacher’s compensation to firefighter’s which we all know that firefighters are highly overcompensated. Heck, if you compare 90% of the jobs in Davis to firefighters you’ll find we’re all under compensated if that’s your template. I guess it works for you to cherrypick though to try and make a point.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I wasn’t comparing compensation to firefighters, I was comparing their work schedule. We pay maintenance workers in the city more than teachers.

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > We pay maintenance workers in the city more than teachers.

        Are ALL “maintenance workers” in town paid more than ALL “teachers”?

        Where do we find a list of Yolo county pay?

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          Let me state it like this: all maintenance workers do not get paid more than all teachers. But a lot of maintenance workers get paid more than many teachers.

          1. Sam

            What kind of math are you using to state this? A first year teacher with no extra education makes $24.71 per hour their first year. A building maintenance crew supervisor starts out at $24.23 per hour. If the teacher does not go back to school they top out at $30.67 per hour while the maintenance supervisor will only get to $29.45.

          2. David Greenwald Post author

            The real question is why are you using hourly figures when they are salaried employees. Besides most maintenance works are done for the day when they leave while most teachers have grading and prep time added.

          3. Sam

            I am using hourly pay so you can make an apple to apples comparison of two positions. Teachers work 184 days a year with 5.75 hours in the classroom. I figure they spend another 2.25 hours grading papers for an average 8 hour day or 1,480 hours per year. The maintenance worker would work 1,920 hours per year. Just talking about annual compensation is very misleading if both jobs are not full time.

          4. David Greenwald Post author

            Except that you are not making an apple to apples comparison because the work structure is completely different. At the end of the day, you make my point when you show that they roughly get the same hourly rate, when in no way should the two salaries be that close.

          5. Sam

            You don’t think a first year teacher should be paid the same as a Supervisor? The teacher’s salary will double over time, the Supervisor is capped at a 20% increase.

          6. South of Davis

            David wrote:

            > Besides most maintenance works are done for the
            > day when they leave while most teachers have
            > grading and prep time added.

            We can’t forget that most maintenance workers have to do “maintenance” 8 hours a day when teachers typically “teach” for less than 5 hours a day (and have summers off). Don’t forget that Teachers have the option to grade the papers when they have time off for recess, lunch, PE, music, art and assemblies ) way more time off in a work day than a typical maintenance worker) or from 3-5 pm when the typical full time maintenance workers are still on the clock…

          7. Mr. Toad

            You usually don’t have time to grade papers during most of those times. You are either setting up or supervising the kids or otherwise working or talking a little break yourself. Yes, teachers need breaks too. The idea that teachers can get it all done during regular working hours really shows that you have little understanding of what teaching is like on a routine basis. People who don’t want to put in any extra time are usually called subs. They show up, there is a lesson plan waiting for them, they execute the plan if they are able and go home when the bell rings at the end of the day. If that is what you expect compare it to a laborer for the city. By the way, if you think teaching isn’t physically demanding you probably never tried to teach thirty kids for a school day.

            My kid had a fabulous first grade teacher, Dr. Angelo. She put in so many nights and weekends and had probably 10 years of college education. If she was working by the clock or had the training of a maintenance worker there would have been no way the children entrusted to her could have made the progress my kid did that year. These comparisons are beyond belief and without dishonoring laborers in other trades, insulting.

          8. Mr. Toad

            There is a big difference between a maintenance worker and a teacher. Teachers don’t get paid for after hours time spent grading papers, planning lessons or any number of other things they do. The maintenance worker is either off the clock or getting overtime or at least regular time. Teachers don’t get overtime when they might be spending many hours in the evening or on weekends reading student work. In fact they don’t get paid for this time at all.

          9. Mark West

            That is the reality of being a salaried employee in any field. You get your annual compensation regardless of how many extra hours you put in to get your job done. In every salaried position I have ever held, I put in way more than 40 hours a week in order to succeed at the position.

            And to say that teachers are not paid for prep time is false. What are they doing during the part of the day that the kids are not in school? That is the prep time that is included as part of their contract. If they need more time to accomplish their jobs then they do what every other salaried employee does, put in extra work at home.

      2. Barack Palin

        “I wasn’t comparing compensation to firefighters, I was comparing their work schedule.”

        Okay, 99.9% of us other workers in private or public jobs don’t have the great firefighter hours. So what’s your point? Many of us would love to have 3 months off every summer plus 3 weeks off during the year for Xmas and Easter breaks. Those sound like fantastic hours too.

          1. Barack Palin

            You have compared teacher’s salary and hours to firefighters before so you are the one taking it too far.

  2. South of Davis

    David posted that the teachers had a:

    > one year cut of 2.7%

    I’m wondering if David had a tutor for his kids and asked him to work one less day a week if he would say he “gave the guy a 20% pay CUT”? (the Davis teachers were paid less because they worked less).

    David also wrote:

    > As we learned in February, the premium for the district costs about $1600
    > per month with the district covering $951 of that and the rest is covered by
    > employees, about $650 a month or $7800 per year.

    Can we get more details, is it $1,600 for a family of six (that is WAY WAY high for one person)?
    Is it $1,600/month for 12 months (or the 9 months the teachers go to work)?
    What percentage of teachers even pay out of pocket for “family” health care (most people with kids have a spouse/domestic partner/etc. that also has a job with health care)?

    Is there a link to this info on like the one below (where I see that a firefighter friend is getting over $28K a year for Medical/Dental/Vision “MDV” and his wife a teacher is getting $6K+ for MDV, that is in addition to the more than $80K !!! my friend is getting for his pension/employee retirement and his wife is getting more than $9K paid in to CalSTRS for her retirement)

    Click the link above and take a look at what people get paid in the Bay Area, my friends are not even close to the top of the pay scale (check out BART and what the “poor” teachers make in Portola Valley)

  3. Don Shor

    > As we learned in February, the premium for the district costs about $1600
    > per month with the district covering $951 of that and the rest is covered by
    > employees, about $650 a month or $7800 per year.

    These kinds of numbers never cease to amaze me. The district could probably save money at this point by giving the employees cash and sending them to the exchanges. Then each employee could buy insurance appropriate to his or her family’s needs, and a good number of them would probably be partially subsidized. How many Vanguard readers have $1600/month insurance?

    1. hpierce

      Your concept of the exchanges may have merit, but I’d want to see a 3-5 year ‘track record’ of the new ‘system’ before I’d recommend it be mandatory for folks in an existing system. I say that as a strong supporter of the concepts of affordable coverage for all, and covering pre-existing conditions. Know of several folk where a bi-polar condition was diagnosed after the child had gone off parents’ insurance. They seemed healthy, until…

      1. Tia Will

        I think that a “wait and see ” approach is wise for anyone who is both happy with their current insurance, and very knowledgeable about what it does and does not cover. I have seen far too many people who have thought that their insurance company was going to pay a much higher percentage of their medical costs than actually turned out to be the case. The lucky ones are those who make the realization before having a procedure done. Not so fortunate are those who receive a multi hundred thousand dollar bill that is so complicated that there is no way that someone not a member of insurance company could possibly decipher what would and would not be covered by their insurance plan.

  4. Mark West

    “The inequities in pay and benefits for teachers versus city employees is very striking.”

    This comes as a surprise to you? Have you not been paying attention these past few years during the discussions on how compensation for city employees is too high and unsustainable? So now you want to raise teachers compensation to the same unsustainable level?

    Teachers deserve to be paid for the quality of their work. They do not however deserve a raise just because we have made the mistake of overcompensating city employees.

      1. Mark West

        Good question. My comments are directed at total compensation and not at the level of an individual’s pay rate. The staff as a whole are compensated at a level that we cannot afford, and therefore, the entire group is overcompensated. As I am not privy to the pay rates and performance evaluations of individual staff members, I have no basis for commenting on the appropriateness of any one individual’s compensation.

    1. South of Davis

      Don wrote:

      > How do public school teacher pay and benefits locally compare to pay
      > and benefits for teachers in private schools in the area?

      I’ve been told by private school teachers in Davis, Sacramento and the Bay Area that they choose to make less at a private school than to deal with the bureaucracy and politics of teaching in the California Public School system (but I don’t know how we will ever be able to see what all the teachers are paid in “private” schools)…

      1. Don Shor

        Before the recession, the national average for public school teachers was about 35% more than private school teachers. I can’t even guess what the difference is with regard to benefits. I don’t know how the recession affected those numbers.
        This shows us what the market rate for teachers is, and what the unions do for their members in terms of improving their incomes.

        1. Davis Progressive

          does it show us where the market rate is for teachers or does it show that there are some people willing take less money for non-economic reasons?

          1. Don Shor

            That’s always true. Most small business owners could be making more money working for someone else. Actually, non-economic factors are far more important to most workers than pay.

          1. wdf1

            Comparing public school teachers to private school teachers is “apples and oranges.” Private schools are not obligated to require professional credentials of their teachers, nor are they required to meet the “highly qualified teacher” requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). I imagine that there are additional regulations on public school teachers that are not required of private school teachers. The hiring pool of teachers for private school is potentially bigger than it is for public schools.

            Public school systems are required to teach any student who walks through the door, regardless of ELL, income, special ed status or issues of student discipline. Public schools have to be more flexible than private schools.

          2. Frankly

            On the point about public teachers requiring credentialing and not private teachers… who sets the credentialing requirements? Answer, education establishment. So, it is the fox guarding the hen house.

            The same is true for pay grade step increases for acquiring a masters degree.

            Is the level of credentialing required or overkill? Do K-12 teachers require a masters degree? Are they more valuable as teachers with a masters degree?

            This all gets down to a lack of rational education success measures and a related lack of a teacher performance management system that compensates based on actual demonstrated performance results and not just achievement of certifications.

            It is the culture of academia to value credentials over demonstrated performance results. In the culture of business it is exactly the opposite. The latter motivates and enables constant improvement. The former motivates and enables constant credentialing.

          3. wdf1

            Frankly: who sets the credentialing requirements? Answer, education establishment. So, it is the fox guarding the hen house.

            Who sets the board standards for physicians and medical doctors? Answer, medical establishment. So, is it the fox guarding the hen house?

            Who determines requirements for passing the bar for attorneys? Answer, the legal establishment. So, is it the fox guarding the hen house?

            Shall I go on?

            Your comments indicate that you do not think education is a true profession, that it is something that anyone pulled off the street could do without much training.

            It is the culture of academia to value credentials over demonstrated performance results. In the culture of business it is exactly the opposite. The latter motivates and enables constant improvement. The former motivates and enables constant credentialing.

            And how do you feel about legal or medical credentials? Can I count on you to remove my gall bladder? Can I count on you to answer questions about my will?

          4. Frankly

            Question: What do you call a doctor that graduated in the bottom of his class?

            Answer: a doctor.

            Here is my response to you questions.

            When the credentialing establishes skills development, I am all for it. For example, it the IT field, there are a number of technical certifications that require true mastery of the subject matter. When I look for people with a certain skill set, I might favor, or even require, credentials.

            But do I pay a credentialed employee more than a non-credentialed employee?

            Absolutely not. I pay a greater wage only if the employee demonstrates consistent higher value to the company.

            Here is a real work example of mine. I had an Oracle DBA that was highly credentialed but he struggled with soft skills. I eventually promoted a less-credentialed coworker of his to a more senior position because she was more effective working with internal customers, and what she did not know she would facilitate getting the answers for.

            Like for a teacher, these Oracle DBAs are a high-level professional position that requires years of experience and education.

            Credentials should be a subset of overall consideration. What academia does is to make it the primary determinant without enough consideration of the actual demonstrated performance.

            Academia loves credentials. Academics fluff themselves up with as many as they can acquire. They demand to be paid more for each one.

            Business generally could care less unless there is a tie. All performance being equal, the promotion would go to the more highly credentialed. The exception to this is new hires. Since new hires don’t have any performance track record, credentials can be a primary consideration. But if the employee does not perform, the credentials don’t provide job security.

            But in teaching… get your credentials and your masters and hang in there for 10 years and you get the highest comp and full job security no matter how crappy your performance is.

          5. hpierce

            BS…. you are correct in what private schools HAVE to do, but most teachers I have known in the private sector have all (and a number, MORE) the credentials, training, etc. Are you aware of how many public teachers have ’emergency credentials’ where they don’t even meet the “minimum” standards? Your ‘soap box’ is shaky.

          6. Michelle Millet

            I have an “emergency credential”, which allows me to work as a substitute teacher in the DJUSD. With it I am only permitted to teach up to 30 consecutive days in one classroom.

          7. Davis Progressive

            good point, i was just wondering about the qualifications for public v. private schools and whether that constrains the market because private seeks lower end teachers.

            palin does your wife have a teacher’s credential? master’s degree? doctorate?

          8. Barack Palin

            I will say this though, my wife often runs into parents of the many hundreds of children that she has taught through the years and more often than not they tell her she was one of the best or the best teacher their kids ever had, public or private. So D.P., so much for your attempted little “lower end teacher” jab.

      2. Barack Palin

        My wife is a private school teacher in Davis. Her salary is a little above the starting teacher salary but she works year round with no medical benefits. Luckily she gets her medical through my benefits.

      3. hpierce

        I can tell you that competent, dedicated teachers in parochial schools (diocese of Sacramento) get around 30%-35% less salary/benefits than DJUSD teachers. Anyone doing that, rather than teaching in the public system (where they would be equally successful) made a choice. All of us make choices, hopefully well thought out. Public school teachers made a choice. Looking for better compensation when you knew what the rules were when you signed on, is normal and human. Doesn’t mean that they should expect that.

        1. Barack Palin

          Exactly hpierce. My wife isn’t complaining that she’s underpaid, she made a choice. Same with public school teachers, they made a choice. The constant crying that public school teachers that get almost 4 months off per year while making $40 to $70 thousand in Davis falls on many deaf ears. There are many in our city working more hours for much less. Quit the crying.

          1. Sam

            That is my point. I don’t want to hear someone making $70,000 per year in a part time job complain that they want more of my money because their health insurance went up. Everyone’s health insurance costs went up. If that is so important to have the district pay more for their insurance they could have had them do it in the new contract instead of taking the increase in pay. I am going to guess they did not do that because most teachers are on other health plans and don’t buy through the district. The letter was deceptive and in poor taste from a group that just each got a $1,400 bonus and an increase in pay.

          2. Davis Progressive

            and you end up with a profession where people can choose between making $70,000 or over $100,000 in other industries, so while you may capture some who are not concerned with money, you end up losing out on the competitive advantage.

          3. Barack Palin

            Yes, and those $100,000/year jobs are just out there for the pickin’. Who are you kidding? Just ask any college grad who can’t find a decent job if they’d like $40 to $70 per year with 4 months off. I’ll bet you’ll have them lined up.

          4. Davis Progressive

            you pulled a very interesting sleight of hand there. you went from the point i made about max wages (which $70K is for a teacher) and changed it to college grads.

          5. Barack Palin

            No, I’m just pointing out that in today’s economy a $40 to $70/year jobs with 4 months off is hard to come by. You made it sound like teachers could easily be making $100,000/year. Those jobs are just not out there and easy to come by, just ask any college grad who can’t find a job.

          6. Davis Progressive

            not suggesting it easy. i was suggesting that a highly qualified individual is probably going to pick a career path with a higher upside.

            i find it interesting that on the one hand you and frankly complain about quality of teachers but on the other hand are perfectly willing to constrain their upside income.

          7. Frankly

            BP, in private industry, a disgruntled employee is a top-management priority. One bad apple can destroy a work culture. That employee needs to either turn around to a positive attitude and demeanor, or sent packing if this cannot be achieved.

            Now look at public education… we have a high percentage of disgruntled employees. And these are not just back-room employees… these are people that are engaging and influencing young minds on a daily basis.

            Kids are emotional sponges… most of them suck up and internalize the feelings emitted from those around them. If they are taught by a teacher lacking complete enthusiasm for the job, then they will develop a lack of enthusiasm… and then be put in a position to have to constantly fight it. That is simply not fair. Our kids deserve only enthusiastic and positive teachers and administrators.

            If you don’t like your job for any reason, and you cannot make it better, then you should quit and get another job. If you don’t have the skills to do another job, then you need to go get those skills. In the end, everyone needs to be pursuing work that makes them happy and engaging. It is even more important when the job is to teach.

            We need to make it easier for teachers to quit and be redirected to another career choice when warranted.

          8. Barack Palin

            Exactly Frankly. My wife’s job isn’t union either so she has to perform. That doesn’t matter to her though because she likes to perform. She’s happy in her job and makes decent money. The benefits aren’t great but she gets medical through me. She knew the deal going in, just as the public teachers knew their deal going in. Quit yer cryin’.

    2. Mr. Toad

      Private school teachers usually make less as is the case with probably all union versus non-union classes of work. That is why more people should get in a union and why the middle class has shrunk over the last 40 years as unions have declined.

      However, I recently saw a story claiming that when controlling for all variables public schools actually have better outcomes for kids than private schools because public school teachers are better trained and tend to have more experience. I guess seniority has it benefits for the kids sometimes too.

      I searched google putting in public school versus private school and here is one of many articles on the subject:,8599,1670063,00.html

      1. Don Shor

        My guess is that private school teachers are younger overall, and that — other than that age difference, if it exists — the union membership of public teachers makes up the difference in the pay between the two. But the private pay and benefit rates tell us what the market value of teachers is, while the public rates tell us what Frankly would probably call the cartel-based (union) value of teachers is. It is a standard saying (among liberals especially) that teachers are “underpaid,” which is usually just a way of saying that “we really appreciate teachers.” Well, who doesn’t? But we all know there isn’t a direct correlation between societal value and market value for any profession. The question is: where do teachers stand with respect to others in similar markets and professions? How does a public school teacher compare in pay and benefits to:
        — a private school teacher;
        — a college professor;
        — a substitute teacher?

          1. Frankly

            I don’t know any conservatives that say teachers are underpaid. What they say is that really good teachers are underpaid.

  5. Tia Will

    Fair warning. Anyone who doesn’t think that this is about more than money can stop reading now.

    What is completely missing from this conversation is how we value the various different roles played by different individuals in our society. Do we believe that the consequences of great performance or very poor performance are the same for a building maintenance person as a teacher, or a firefighter. If we have an excellent maintenance person, we get well kept buildings, important true, but arguably not as crucial as 25 or so years of classrooms of children receiving and excellent education or prompt rescue from a vehicle on fire.. Taking the opposite extreme, a very poor performing maintenance worker may leave us with a leaky faucet or crumbling tiles. Inconvenient and unsightly but hardly of the same order of magnitude of 30 or so children losing out on a years worth of education year after year or an incompetent firefighter which could in worst case scenario lead to unnecessary death.

    In my view, we focus way too much on the money with people scrapping back and forth over various aspects of compensation and which job demands more hours and effort. We all have made our career choices and presumably considered the pros and cons when we made those choices. Missing from this assessment completely are the intangibles, the satisfaction one derives from their career balanced against how much time they perceive they need for their family and other pursuits.

    So what’s my point ? If “fairness” is really the issue, then we should all be compensated the same amount on an hourly basis. I do not believe that “fairness” is really the issue at all. I believe that the root problem here is that by nature, people do not want to pay the full amount for what they have, especially if they perceive someone else as having a “better deal”.

    Ok, end of rant !

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Do we believe that the consequences of great performance
      > or very poor performance are the same for a building
      > maintenance person as a teacher

      A “very poor” teacher (that does a poor job teaching) will not allow kids to learn as much.

      A “very poor” maintenance person (that hooks up a heater vent wrong) will KILL all the kids in the class.

  6. Tia Will


    “Quit the crying”

    I would agree with this. However, I agree with its application to both sides. I believe that there should not be crying about amount of salary in a profession one has chosen if it provides a living wage. I also do not think that there should be “crying” and resentment over the summer vacation or any other perceived perks that teachers, or any other category of worker gets. If those benefits were more important to anyone who is not a public school teacher, then perhaps perhaps that would have been a better career choice for that individual.

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I also do not think that there should be “crying” and resentment
      > over the summer vacation or any other perceived perks that teachers,
      > or any other category of worker gets.

      I have not read anyone “crying” aka “complaining” that teachers get the summer off. People are just pointing out that you should EXPECT to get paid less (and not “cry” about it) when you work less (just like my MD friend that works 80 hours a week including tons of nights and weekends should EXPECT to get paid more than a teacher who teaches 25 hours a week). I just read in the Enterprise that 95% of the kids who applied for Stanford didn’t get in and I have no doubt that every teacher in Davis could easily make an extra $10-$20K working as a private tutor after school (or an extra $8,500 coaching a boys and girls volleyball team).

      1. Tia Will

        “I have not read anyone “crying” aka “complaining” that teachers get the summer off.”

        I guess we interpret these comments somewhat differently. I believe that the same standard of description should apply to each group. For example, I have not heard of any teachers
        “crying” but have certainly heard requests for pay raises. It would seem to me that this is the right of any employee to request a raise and to make their best case about why they deserve it. So why is that teachers are felt to be “crying” when they point out accurately the amount of time they have gone without a raise despite increasing cost of living, the actual hours that they work for their salary, and the value of the job that they do to the community.
        If an employee of any company can make a request for a raise, why cannot a teacher in the public or private sector do the same without being demeaned as “crying” ?

        1. Mark West

          There is a big difference. When an employee of a private company asks for a raise, the impact of that raise is felt entirely by the company. When a public employee asks for a raise, the impact is felt by the entire tax paying community. I have no issues with a teacher asking her supervisor for a raise, but I am entirely put off by a group of them complaining to the press that they are not paid enough.

          1. Tia Will

            OK SOD

            You win this round in the extrapolation sweepstakes.
            However, except at the extremes, I will stand by my point.

          2. Tia Will

            Mark West

            ” When an employee of a private company asks for a raise, the impact of that raise is felt entirely by the company.”

            Your statement is only partially true. The private company does have other means of revenue generation should they decide that an employee deserves a raise. They may for example decide to raise the cost of a service or product if they feel that the employee is valuable enough.
            This may not have much impact in a single instance, but it certainly has a major impact if you are taking in aggregate for very large companies, or are considering the pay and benefits of CEOs.

            It is also interesting to me that you are put off by a group advocating for their position in the press. Is this not a matter of free speech. If Soros or the Koch brothers have the right to pour as much money into our system as they want in the name of “free speech” should we not also honor the rights of a group of teachers to express their point of view whether we happen to agree with it or not ?

          3. Barack Palin

            “Your statement is only partially true. The private company does have other means of revenue generation should they decide that an employee deserves a raise.”

            Have you ever heard of parcel taxes? Take a look at how many parcel taxes are going to Davis schools as you pay your April 10 bill. So schools do have other means of revenue generation.

          4. Tia Will

            Of course what you say about parcel taxes is true.
            It is also true that we get a vote on parcel taxes.
            We do not get a “vote” as to who runs a private company or who sets their price structure. Fair enough when the cost is transparent as a price sticker on a garment. Totally deceitful when what is being discussed is costs of medical procedures which is anything but transparent.

          5. Mark West


            I didn’t say that they didn’t have the right to whine to the press, I said I was put off by it. I would be equally put off if you were to whine to the press about the amount of money that Kaiser pays its doctors. Just because you are allowed to do something doesn’t make it a good idea, or a reason for anyone to respect you.

          6. Barack Palin

            Plus, once they cry to the press and put it out there about their pay we the taxpayers can also cry to the press and voice our opinions. No?

          7. Tia Will


            You are free to cry to anyone you like. That was my point. If people are “complaining, or whining, or crying” about the “unfairness” of their salaries, or their taxes,
            they most certainly have that right. And as Mark just put it, “it doesn’t make it a good idea, or a reason for anyone to respect you “. I just think it cuts both ways.

  7. Frankly

    Facts about teacher pay:

    – Including all K-12 teachers, educators in higher learning, and all administrators… it constitutes over 50% of all federal, state and local government employees. If we overpay even a small percentage, it has a HUGE impact on overall budgets and takes away from other programs.

    – Education – especially public education – is a monopoly. The unions have unprecedented and unfair power over this industry and over the consumers of the services provided by this industry. In addition, this monopoly is highly politicized. It corrupts our democratic process for vetting spending priorities.

    – Because it is largely a monopoly, there are little to no market based checks-and-balances that help level pay. We frankly do not know if teachers are overpaid or underpaid. However, there is one measurement we can check and that is the level of difficulty for recruiting new teachers. Since 2006 there has been a measurable drop in the number of new multiple-subject teacher credentials in CA (10,362 in 2006 to 6,315 in 2011.) The certifications for single subjects and special education is relatively unchanged. Of course the CTA is pushing this as evidence that there is a shortage of teachers because teachers are not paid enough. But this is oversimplification. There are in fact several reasons for the drop in enrollment in teaching credential programs. Based on student surveys, the primary reason is that young teachers are the first to be laid off when there are budget problems… and there are currently a lot of budget problems (ironically, primarily because we have been grossly overpaying government employees). Another reason that certification enrollment has declined is the hyper inflationary rise of the cost of college education (again, ironically because of the increase in compensation of the people employed by higher learning). The loss of arts and industrial arts classes due to budget problems (again, ironically due to the rise in government employee compensation), has also caused a drop in students otherwise interest in a teaching career. Lastly, teachers report low job satisfaction and the word gets out (more about that below).

    – But, currently there is no shortage of candidates for open teacher positions in most CA school districts. It may be a problem in the future, but not today. Today there are plenty of young people ready and willing to take teaching jobs. From that measure alone it is clear that we are not underpaying teachers.

    – When factoring the summer time off, compared to other white-collar professional jobs, teachers work fewer hours per year. The argument that teachers bring work home with them and work extra hours during the school year does not differentiate them from their professional peers in the private sector because most professional employees in the private sector do the same. In fact a teacher can be sick or take a vacation and have a substitute teacher fill in. Contrast that to many professional employees in the private sector where they are almost always plugged in and working. We can certainly argue that this is not a good thing. However, teachers benefit from this ability to leave their work at work over the summer and for much of the regular school year. Experienced teachers also have greater job security than do their professional peers in the private sector. This extra job security and the ability to leave work at work… these are job benefits that have value.

    – Including the ability to leave work at work, and the extra job security, teachers get better benefits than do their professional peers in the private sector. These benefits and they way they are administered is a big reason that teacher job satisfaction is low… and low job satisfaction contributes to the demand for greater pay as a false and temporary remedy for low job satisfaction (more about that below). There are numerous studies that prove pay levels to be far down the list in job satisfaction measures. However, if the other more important criteria cannot be remedied (examples include effective and quality management, and recognition for performance), then employees seek a boost to lower level criteria as a placebo.

    – There has been an explosion in the number of administrators and the pay for administrators. If we want more money for teachers, then we need to start reducing the number of administrators and their pay. From BLS, the average wage amount for all public school administrators is $46.85 per hour. Contrast that to all management occupations ($45.21 per hour), K-12 teachers ($38.29 per hour), accountants and auditors ($29.33) and the average for all workers ($22.77). What we pay administrators is absurd… especially given the general average crappy leadership performance we get out of them. And if we include TOTAL compensation, the BLS data shows K-12 teachers making $56.59 per hour (administrators are not broken out in total compensation for some reasons but we can just estimate a similar ratio of pay-to-benefits that teachers are getting (+32%)… this would put them at ($61.84 per hour). Compared to all private business and financial managers ($58.44 per hour)… it is clear that education administration is a primary source of our problem and our solution to get more money to teachers.

    – But getting back to the point about low teacher job satisfaction and their benefits… the simple fact is that teachers become job-locked (to use Nancy Pelosi’s now famous term used to defend the job loss caused by Obamacare) because of their benefits. In every profession there will be a percentage of workers that will eventually determine that they are not a great fit for the job/career they selected. Or in some cases, people change and their wants and needs change with respect to their career. If an employee will be significantly financially harmed by changing jobs/careers, they will be less likely to leave. So they will stick with a job that does not provide them satisfaction only for money.

    – If we were to transform pensions to defined contribution plans and implement more robust merit and pay for performance systems (instead of job security through seniority) this would cause more otherwise disgruntled teachers to quit and do different work. This then would open up positions for new employees with enthusiasm for the job. The overall impact would be more positive energy in the profession… and this would also help some employees better enjoy their education career (because working with positive or negative coworkers is own of the key job satisfaction criteria). It would also help the students get a better education because grumpy and disgruntled teachers cause subtle and not-so-subtle student engagement problems (who like to listen to someone that gives off signals of not wanting to be there?)

    The bottom line here… teacher pay is not the problem. Complaints about teacher pay are a symptom of other problems. And these other problems are also the source of crappy education quality. Fix the other problems, and most of the complaints about low teacher pay will go away.

    1. Don Shor

      This is an extraordinarily astute analysis. I think that the benefits are the problem in terms of managing the district’s expenses. Following up on what I said earlier, I would guess many teachers, especially younger ones, would prefer greater flexibility in choosing their benefits. Probably a lot of teachers would be happy to have more take-home pay and a bronze health plan, rather than less take-home pay with a platinum plan.

    2. Mr. Toad

      I agree with you about too many administrators. Too many school boards and county offices of education.

      Ivan Illich wrote a book called De-schooling Society about how certification controls supply. Its not just teachers its doctors and lawyers and any number of other professions that have this problem too. This article talks about the cost of medical insurance. Crank out many more doctors and watch the costs decline.

      As to teacher credential candidates and teacher supply and demand you left out the effects of class size. It has a huge impact. When you cut budgets you need to increase class size to house the students.

    3. wdf1

      Frankly: Since 2006 there has been a measurable drop in the number of new multiple-subject teacher credentials in CA (10,362 in 2006 to 6,315 in 2011.) The certifications for single subjects and special education is relatively unchanged.

      Single subject certifications would include credentials for high school math and science which are always in higher demand because there are other industries that could pull those workers away. Special ed teachers are also in high demand. If you were a teacher going through the last recession, one way to make sure you were less likely to get laid off was to go get your single subject or special ed credential.

      1. Frankly

        This makes sense to me. Getting a teaching credential is no walk in the park. We would expect students to be strategic in maximizing their employment opportunities.

  8. Mr. Toad

    Not everyone can do that after school. I tried coaching after school one year. After giving my all to the kids in class all day I was too exhausted to put in another couple of hours. It really gave me a greater appreciation for teachers who coach after school. I would take extra work in summer some years.

  9. Tia Will

    “For me, however, the biggest issue that the district needs to figure out a way to tackle is health care.”

    As a provider of health care, I could not agree with you more. In this city as well as throughout the country, health care costs are exorbitant compared to the health care costs and converge provided by any other comparable, country. One vital step that we need to take is to separate the issue of health insurance from employment.
    While there was a point in time where this made some sense in terms of attracting workers by providing ancillary benefits, that time has long passed.
    In my view, anything that the city chooses to do with regard to health care benefits will not address the underlying issue which is the fact that in our desire to have every service provided according to the dictates of the
    “free market” we have rationed health care by ability to pay. Until we rectify this situation and opt for an actual functional health care system, we will continue to just nibble around the edges of this problem.

  10. Tia Will

    “Crank out many more doctors and watch the costs decline.”

    In complete agreement with this point. Also would see cost decline if the charge for medications and procedures in this country were even comparable to the costs in other countries with similar if not superior outcomes.. Or if we were to loosen our rules about which medications can be purchased without a prescription with consultation with a pharmacist or similar salaried professional. There are lots of potential approaches to the problem of health care costs. Traditional fee for service medicine while keeping those services deliberately limited and exorbitantly expensive is not one of them.

  11. Ryan Kelly

    I remember the discussion I had with someone about solving the problem of the high cost of health insurance as a way to increase the take home pay for teachers. The response was that it would be unfair to the teacher’s who had insurance through other means or no dependents. It came down to him wanting a pay raise and the cost of healthcare was merely an argument to get that raise.

    I still view the high cost of healthcare as a real problem and giving someone a $.50 per hour raise is not really going to do much to alleviate the burden. Someone should really look at the plans being offered and providing options. If the teachers again use the cost of healthcare as a reason to provide a raise for all, then I would like to see exactly what the average teacher is paying out of pocket. I don’t want to hear about the one teacher who choose an expensive plan to cover her family of five and pays a lot.

  12. Barack Palin

    So why is it that since California is starting to fund the schools better that automatically the teachers deserve a raise? Why instead aren’t we considering relieving the parcel tax strain on homeowners?

  13. wdf1

    Frankly” But in teaching… get your credentials and your masters and hang in there for 10 years and you get the highest comp and full job security no matter how crappy your performance is.

    This is more of your usual rant against organized education.

    And what’s missing is, beyond standardized test scores in math and English (a very incomplete measure), “how do you measure performance?” You’ve promised to provide us with that answer, haven’t you?

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