Gusciora Takes on Home RuleFebruary 2, 2009
The Merger MacarenaFebruary 3, 2009
You’ve got to hand it to Michael Winerip of the New York Times. Once a hard-hitting reporter on beats like inner-city poverty – think Jonathan Kozol – over the last few years he’s been relegated to softer news as he now channels his inner Anna Quindlen: weepy articles about empty-nest syndrome, journal-like compositions on raising children, wistful memories.. Now he’s popping up in, of all places, the Sunday Styles section, right next to celebrity weddings and fashion pastiches. Journalism is tough.
But this week’s column in yesterday’s Times, right next to suggestions for Valentine’s Day presents (Small Stump’s Forever Cupcake, Marc Jacobs’ Love Story Clutch, love pillows by Maison de Vacances) is about the economic rewards of teaching, specifically in Rochester, New York. Here’s the lede from “Still Doing the Math, But for $100K a Year:”
THIS is a great economic time to be a veteran public schoolteacher. Valerie Huff, a math teacher at East High here, a tough urban school, made more than $102,000 last year.
Should all teachers move to Rochester? No need:
Nor is Rochester an aberration. Adam Urbanski, who is head of the teacher’s union here, estimates that 40 percent of school districts in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey pay as well as or better than his district.
Tack on stipends for teaching summer school and mentoring new teachers, explains Winerip, and these educators make anywhere from $120,000 to $130,000.
Hold it! Cognitive dissonance! We thought that teachers toiled in the infested rat holes of public education, counting pennies, hoarding pencils, bartending on weekends. Turns out that, once upon a time, we were right – but not any more. While once teachers were badly underpaid, now they’re doing just fine.
So why are contracts in New Jersey still coming in with 4% – 5% annual increases? NJEA’s mantra has always been that teachers are still playing catch-up, compensating for the years when, according to Winerip, salaries were $6,850 (1977) or $11,250 (1978). Isn’t that game over?
It should be. That’s an old song. Teachers make or break schools, and should be paid like the professionals they are. The point is that, finally, they are being paid appropriately. NJEA needs to stop singing that old musty tune or they might conjure up allusions to the fairy tale called “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” with Winerip playing the part of the little boy who peels off the charade of the king’s finery. Memo to NJEA: don’t get caught with your pants down.