Every so often I stop and realize that I have been at this for a decade. I have never been actively working on such a particular idea for so long. I think it’s safe to say the crisis of career I faced a long time ago has been settled. This is what I’m supposed to do. In recognition of this “holy crap 10 years” and the fact that I like making charts, I present a series of charts about things I’ve been doing for the past decade.

For this one, let’s broach a taboo subject, teacher pay. Before I dig in, let me state that I am satisfied with how I am paid. My district makes significant efforts to keep staff pay a priority despite funding shortfalls from the state (we have a redistribution system in place in Texas, that might change this year, our district currently pays in significantly more than we get back, leaving us to pinch pennies). We’re in an urban area and there are lots of districts to choose from as employee, and they know staff pay matters. Education is still government work though, so there’s only so much you can do. The rent’s still going to rise.

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Although public school teacher pay is a matter of public record in Texas (go poke around any school district HR page and you can find the salary schedules pretty easily), I have obscured the y-axis here. This is meant to be a general discussion of pay over the course of 10 years. More or less, I’ve been sitting at US Median pay (as issued by the Census Bureau) pretty much always. Only in recent years have I surpassed inflation. I’m 8% over an inflation adjusted 2010 salary. In 2010, health insurance cost 1% of income, rent 20%. In 2019, health insurance is now 10% of income, rent 24%. Despite the salary gains, most of it is now getting lost to overhead. I don’t even have kids or a spouse and health insurance costs hurt. The best part is despite having full coverage, a major medical emergency could bankrupt me easy. To say the recent tax table adjustments did me any good is laughable (I blew 3 years worth of my “tax break” on a car repair right after they came into effect). It’s probably accurate to say that every teacher knows exactly how far their money can go.

Another fact, I have always had supplemental duties. You stick around a school long enough and you’re highly likely to wind up doing something extra. In the spring of 2018, despite taking a year off from coaching, there wasn’t a single pay period where I wasn’t paid out for an extra duty (drive a bus for $50, keep score at a game for $30). In 2019, I make extra money by teaching math (high needs stipend), coaching volleyball, driving a bus for various athletic teams, keeping score at soccer games, sponsoring National Honor Society, and sponsoring our Mathematics Competition. Currently 16% of my salary comes from extra duties. I very much enjoy my extra duties, but they do require extra time.

If you’re a teacher reading this you know this is reality. If you aren’t in education and wonder why teachers work multiple jobs, well this is why. For a variety of reasons, wages stay pretty flat while everything else gets more expensive. If your situation has gotten so dire that you’ve had to take to the streets to get people to pay attention, more power to you. Teachers in a lot of places aren’t asking for much, covering the rent should not be an outrageous demand.

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AuthorJonathan Claydon