Education News

Scott Wagner, running for governor in Pa., says teachers are overpaid

By Amanda Litvinov

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Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner, an early favorite among the Republican candidates for governor, said that teachers are overpaid during a radio interviewthis week.

Wagner said, “People would be appalled if they knew what their teachers made, in certain areas.”

He then stated that teachers in his home district make an average salary of $88,000, which is incorrect. The most recent data shows the average teacher salary in his district is closer to $70,000.

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It’s not the first time Wagner has complained that teachers are compensated too generously. He made the same complaint last year using the same inflated statistic.

Wagner has also said he wants to eliminate benefits that educators earn, including sick days. He plans to end pensions for working educators, and wants retired educators to give back 10% of the retirement they earned.

An outspoken critic of public schools, Wagner has made it clear he would be no friend to public education if he is elected in November.

Find out more about Scott Wagner, and his promise to support Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s agenda with a statewide voucher plan.






31 responses to “Scott Wagner, running for governor in Pa., says teachers are overpaid

  1. Just a side comment here that is my reality… I am an elementary teacher with 16 years experience and also a single mom. I love my teaching career and my school, along with the district in which it resides.
    I work 2 additional jobs to support my family.
    Some of these negative commentors are so very misinformed.

  2. There’s always so much hate and envy on threads about teacher pay–which, as several people have explained, isn’t all that enviable. Instead of bashing teachers and trying reduce benefits and financial supports, we should be raising other lower and middle class jobs up to those standards.

    Racing to the economic bottom in every way is not benefiting our society or our children. I’d love to see a discussion about the salaries and benefits of the 1%, however, which are morbidly obscene. That’s where our focus should be: bringing some kind of economic balance into our fatally imbalanced system.

  3. As a taxpayer I think what bothers me is the percentage of overhead in the school system. When extra funds are recieved, an increase in the level of education doesn’t increase. What other profession demands increases in salary and benefits without an increase in a product-in this case a well-educated student.

    I think it is time for a major overhaul-this system was developed with summers off when the majority of families were farmers.

    Let’s support a new system, year round school, with summers working with students who need tutoring- or rotating students so they do get time off, but the investment in infrastructure is justified as buildings are being utilized year round. No tenure-you have a union, sick days yes, but no accumulation of sick days from year to year, a straight 401 K- with a 3% company match-and no promised % of return on investments. To cut overhead, assign a region of schools for the management of principals and vice principals. This way salaries are justified and the majority of school taxes and government funding support isn’t going into administration overhead, pensions and benefits.

    Many professionals are college educated, work over 40 hours a week including nights and weekends and spend their own income on job related expenses. And many, like nurses, deal with life and death situations daily-equally important as educating our children.

    Change is necessary as the current system cannot support itself.

    1. I’m not sure if you understand education based on your comment. When a district gets funds, those funds are allotted for specific purposes. There is one specific budget that funds professional and paraprofessional pay (teachers, aids, janitors, cafeteria workers, administration, etc). So although a district may get a bottom line budget, the money is predetermined where it goes. Districts also write a significant number of grants to get that money to fund projects (increasing technology, purchasing supplies for special ed programs, providing meals, updating security, etc). When that money is given, it must be used for what the grant stated.

      Generally, when teachers ask for a pay raise, there is already a set scale which you can look up for your district. The teachers are capped at a pay and the pay raises are generally for the teachers who have not reached the top of the scale. Then there is a percentage that is usually negotiated for everyone that is based on the economy (this percentage helps fix the inflation of the economy). Usually the percentage negotiated here is 1-2% which results in a 700 dollar pay raise for the highest paid teacher (assuming the capped salary is 70,000 which is what it is for our district.)

      Your comment of year round school — aside from the fact that kids need a break, families need time to go on vacation and spend time as a family, and the cost of running buses, paying all of the employees for working during that time (teachers are not paid during the summer) plus allowing the teachers time off to get the training necessary to keep their licenses (which are done during the summer), the expense of the district needing to run during that time would increase exponentially. The cost saving of a district during the summer is very significant. For kicks, look up the cost of busing for your district alone during the school year. Imagine adding 8 weeks to that cost (our district spends millions on busing for the year) where will that money come from? Not to mention the cost of bills for the building increasing as well. Furthermore, Our district offers summer school every year for struggling students and summer school for elementary school students (which lasts three weeks). And guess who teaches that? Your teachers.

      Next, having tenure and a union are two different things. Tenure is granted so that the district must provide a justifiable reason for firing a teacher. Prior to tenure, if the school feels like a teacher is not a good fit for the district for any reason they are allowed to let that teacher go and the teacher is not allowed to question the decision ( example: the district hired a teacher, and the teacher has a hard time relating with the students and parents but still performs all duties necessary to the job— the teacher is let go, no reason necessary.) Prior to tenure, the union doesn’t/can’t protect a teacher from that. After the school has had a teacher for three years, they choose to grant tenure meaning that the teacher has met the expectation for that time frame and the school wants to keep the teacher long term. On the other hand, the union serves as a negotiating committee and provides legal if necessary.

      No accumulation of sick days? Which job does that to their employees? Not even sure why that was stated because that’s ridiculous. Teachers sick days are capped, just like everyone else’s, and there is a pay out for them that is much less than the worth of the days (example: Our district pay out is capped at $5000 for sick leave.) Also, in order to use the sick leave for an extended period of time, you must have a doctors excuse. You can’t just take a year off and use your sick leave.

      Of course you’d want to change the retirement. Makes sense. But that also means you’re going to have teachers who stay longer and then they will get paid the highest pay scale (or if you want to get rid of that, the highest amount of money they can get) for a longer time. Having a teacher making 70,000 working for 5 extra years would cost the district 350,000 plus benefits versus hiring a new teacher at a lower pay and a lower cost of benefit.

      Regional districts are always brought up. The states that do this are in the lowest performing states in education. Although it makes sense to do, eliminating administrators causes decisions to be made across a county or region that are best for the majority in that area. This means that the minority of each of those areas are forgotten (not taking about race here but instead learning styles, needs, classes, etc).

      Even discussing cutting pensions or retirement from teachers is so disrespectful to the teachers and to the youth. You should be wanting the most educated and well qualified individuals to teach our next generation. Quality costs money.. it’s an investment.

      And finally, yes many professionals are college educated and work 40 hours per week, spend their own money on work stuff etc. Teachers are the lowest paid of that group. Remember — teachers start out making 35,000 and it takes 30 years to make 70,000. Entry level for a nurse (RN) is around 50,000.

      Finally, you want to go to voucher schools and private schools with low paid teachers with no retirement opportunity, who work year round to live in poverty. How do you think that will benefit our children? You think if public schools are removed, education, taxes, and economy are going to become better? I didn’t see one complaint about the content that the state is requiring to be taught, or the expectations that they set and then change throughout the year, the testing that they pay for that shows nothing (look up the cost of the keystones and the pssa which they have changed every single year), you’ve mentioned no argument that the state has set parameters for all students to succeed equally which eliminates districts from tracking students to get them ready for the careers they want to pursue. Somehow, the only issue with the infrastructure of our education system is on how much we pay our teachers.

      1. I would like to point out that children in Europe attend school 11 months out of the year, begin learning a srcond, sometimes a third language in elementary, and are not hired based on their school connections or willingness to coach a sport

        1. You better check your sources before you make that claim of children in Europe attending school 11 months of the year, Sherri. According to the European Commission that information is inaccurate. You can read it here.

          Furthermore, research by professors at North Carolina showed that principals are seeking teacher candidates with classroom experience, an advanced degree and knowledge of state standards among other things. The study didn’t mention willingness to coach a sport or a school connection.

          Finally, consider the fact that school districts in Arizona are recruiting teachers from foreign countries because they are unable to find American educators who will work for the pay offered. That would be $40,000. Average US teacher pay is $58,950 according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. This is a 1.6% decrease since the year 2000. The highest national average recorded was $59,994 in the year 1989.

          It might be a good idea to research credible information regarding the educational system before dispensing inaccurate information which negatively impacts the public’s mindset about our schools.

        2. I work as a teacher in Sweden. We, and our students, are off for two months in the summer. A much needed break for all of us!! Teachers get paid (!) summer vacation but can also choose to come in and work during summer school, and instead take part of their vacation during other parts of the year. I don’t know of any European country where the students have school 11 months/year. Would be interesting to know where you got those facts from!

        3. I think you should also be aware then that being a teacher is considered a highly regarded profession over there, and in Europe teachers make as much as doctors and lawyers, if not more. To say that teachers are hired based on their school connections or willingness to coach is very insulting. That’s far and few between, and educators work very hard to make sure your children are prepared. Additionally, I would look at what restrictions public schools have that prevent them from doing all of that. things such as funding and the requirements to teach other subjects for time periods that that don’t allow time to teach a foreign language, let alone two.

      2. Can you imagine the electric bills running air conditioning during the summer months? Our district actually closes on the hottest days of the summer to save electricity. Even during the school year we sometimes power down when electricity demand is high due to hot weather. Lots of hidden costs.

        And for those who think we earn too much, compare my career earnings to someone else with my education. It took me the better part of 20 years to get to 50K. And you want me to give back my pension?

    2. If that’s the way you think teachers compensation should be changed then let’s do this for all government employees starting with the police and firemen. Oh and Linda this site has spell check and when I went to school the rule was I before E except after C. It’s a shame can’t spell but thinks she knows how jobs should be compensated.

    3. this whole comment was ridiculous, but I want to know what teacher actually has a “summer break”, between planning for next year, inservice training days, and doing work for my extra curricular (every teacher is required to be in charge of some other extra curricular. mine is the yearbook, designing it and taking photos at every event/sport) I worked every week this summer. Mon-Fri, 40 hours a week, on my own

    4. Though Tina’s response is spot on and amazing, I think we are off-topic. Wagner is ill-informed or deliberately spreading misinformation and lies to try to cripple our right to quality, free public education. No deliberately obtuse, ignorant candidate is getting my vote. There was a time we looked toward the educated, wise, experienced candidate. I can think of no time period where we needed qualified, intelligent people more.

  4. Asking any retiree to give back any of their pension from a public or private sector job is outrageous. An individual makes the decision on when to retire, based on their retirement portfolio, which would include 401K, pension, social security, etc. Paying back 10% years later is crazy. Maybe every retiree should give 10% of their social security back.

  5. Teachers are professionals with expectations of constant self-improvement, as per Act 48. Only working 10 months is rarely the case, as we do work over the the summer to improve our lesson plans, and we absolutely have to work more than 40 hours a week– classroom time is “on” time, and we can’t exactly grade papers while teaching, or call parents to update on a child’s progress, or collaborate with a special ed teacher to ensure Johnny’s specific needs are being met, or attend workshops on the latest trend in teaching… if you really think all that is happening is 40 hours a week for 10 months, your head is in the clouds. Nice thought though, boy my job would be cake if that were the case. Cute idea.

    1. I like to know the educational background of these people running the government? Most teachers are highly educated and we have to continuously have to back to school to improve our craft. I have a Masters plus 60 credits. Many of my colleagues have two or three degrees. Teachers are the most highly educated, poorly paid professionals! Stop teacher bashing and walk a mile in our shoes just for one day!

      1. Most people couldn’t make it until lunch on the first day in teacher’s shoes! If anyone thinks teachers have it great, get certified and teach!!

  6. In this economy, despite what Trump said, $70,000 does not go a long way when you have a family. It galls me that that Wagner inflates the average teacher salary in Pennsylvania. The Democratic Party and educators have a long road ahead to defeat this gentlemen in his race for the governorship of Pennsylvania.

    1. I my district an elementary physical education teacher an average of $75,000 for 10 months of work. Their is definitely something wrong with that picture.
      Tenure should be taken away so they good teacher get paid what they deserve and the lazy ones can move along.

      1. Sarah I agree. There are good teachers and there are teachers just in it for the benefits and summers off. I met so many teachers not willing to help because school hours were over and had to go home at 3, and they parents they have to pay them or somebody else to tutor!

        1. My daughter had trouble in math and I gladly paid the teacher to tutor her after school. Why would I feel that a teacher should give up time with their own family to tutor my child? Where does that line end? If their time is over at 3, should I demand free tutoring till 3:30? 4? 5? Saturdays?

        2. Do you realize that a teacher’s job is a bit political? We certainly are held to higher standards, and should be. I buy materials for my classroom out of my pay check and consider it an investnent in my work.I do bus duty and stay late after school to make sure everyone arrives home safely. I stay late to ready for the next day, or arrange a new learning experience for students. I calm fears, break up arguments and misunderstandings between students, provide individual help with work and am always looking for the best way to present and inspire. I would also protect children with my life. Why all this teacher hate? I work with a great school filled with inspiring teachers, students, and parents.

      2. Who says physical education teachers are lazy!!!!! With all of the obesity and unfit children in the world physical education teachers are met with more and more challenges. Physical education should be mandatory 5 days a week, to compensate for the screen time that parents allow their children to have. Lets also have a little parental accountability!!

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