Tag Archives: teacher pay

Where is all the money going?

Who is funding the war on public education, teachers and labor unions?

Michael Dobie, an editorial writer at Long Island’s Newsday asked, “Who gets a 4 percent raise these days?” He was complaining about teacher pay—that teachers were paid too much.

In this post, I will answer Dobie’s question.

Bill Gates, for one.  In 2012, his net worth was estimated at $66 billion. In 2014, it was $80.7 Billion. That’s an increase of $14.7 Billion or 22.2% of what he was worth in 2012.

In addition, Think reports that “From 1978 to 2011, CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent, a rise substantially greater than stock market growth and the painfully slow 5.7 percent growth in worker compensation over the same period.” Divide that 33 year period into 725 percent and the average increase of CEO pay was almost 22 percent annually, and Dobie was complaining in his Newsday OpEd piece about teachers who got a 4 percent annual raise—1.7 percent lower than the growth in worker compensation.

Then The State of Working reported: “From 1983 to 2010, 38.3 percent of the wealth growth went to the top 1 percent and 74.2 percent to the top 5 percent. The bottom 60 percent, meanwhile, suffered a decline in wealth.”

For a comparison, according to, “median household income fell slightly to $51,017 a year in 2012, down from $51,100 in 2011 — a change the Census Bureau does not consider statistically significant.”

What is the medium pay of public school teachers compared to the national median household income? reports: the bottom 10% of teachers earn $39,627 annually. The top 10% earns $68,273.  The median was $52,380.

Let’s also look closely at what Congress pays itself. In fact, they gave themselves a raise in 2013. How would you like to have the power to give yourself a raise?

“The annual salary of members of (the do nothing but say no) Congress will rise from $174,000 to $174,900. Leadership in Congress, including the speaker of the House and Senate majority leader, will likewise get an increase.”  They also get an allowance beyond the salary, and in 2012, individual representatives received MRA allowances ranging from $1,270,129 to $1,564,613, with an average of $1,353,205.13. In the Senate, the average SOPOEA allowance is $3,209,103, with individual accounts ranging from $2,960,716 to $4,685,632, depending on the population of the senators’ states.

But teachers don’t have an expense account. They pay out of their own pocket. The reports: “Teachers Spend $1.3 Billion Out of Pocket on Classroom Materials.” And I know a teacher who pays a retired teacher $25 an hour to help him keep up with correcting student work. He doesn’t have the time, because he is required to call the parents of his 150 – 170 students every night to remind them their child has homework.

Hey, Dobie, before you kick a teacher again, look at Bill Gates, a member of the top 1%, and Congress and think about who really deserves your boot in the butt.


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves


Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1/2

The documentary “American Teacher” focused on the low pay of teachers when compared to their peers working in the private sector with similar educational backgrounds, and the back breaking demands on most teachers (working an average 60 hours or more a week – for example, I often worked a 100 hour week often starting at 6AM when the gates to the school were unlocked and staying as late as 11:00 PM when the alarms were turned on and the gates locked).

While the film was not perfect because it didn’t mention the role of parents and other pressures teachers face, it offered a more realistic view of education in America than “Waiting for Superman” did.

Points made that many of the critical reviews of this documentary ignored were:

1. 46 percent of public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years of being in the classroom.

2. Salaries and stress are among the top reasons teachers say they leave.

3. 62 percent of our nation’s teachers must have second jobs outside of the classroom-like tutoring, mowing lawns, selling stereos, or bartending—to be able to afford to teach.

From a few positive reviews of “American Teacher” —

Mark Phillips of the Washington Post said, “A film about education that gets it exactly right… Powerful and compelling. Every policymaker should be required to see American Teacher”

Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News said, “This heartbreaking and essential look into the lives of those who put so much into educating other people’s children ought to be seen by everyone concerned about the fate of the public school system, and the nation as a whole.” – “Sobering and powerful.” – Ernest Hardy, Village Voice

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, “A heartfelt, bittersweet portrait.”

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, “As we watch the individuals in American Teacher struggle with the burdens of the system places on them, it’s hard not to feel like crying, both for them…and our national culture.”

Note: I also spent thousands of dollars for educational materials over the years that I taught, and for a few years, I also worked a second job to pay the bills in addition to working summers in jobs such as construction, since I wasn’t paid as a teacher during the ten weeks of the summer break.

Continued on April 2, 2012 in The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Graphic OCT 2015

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