Entries in School (8)


Chicago Strike Highlights Teacher's Pay

ABC News/Ma'ayan Rosenzweig(NEW YORK) -- Teacher pay is back in the headlines as Chicago school teachers went on strike Monday.

The average teacher salary is $71,236 in the Chicago Public School district, which includes elementary schools and high schools, according to the Illinois Interactive Report Card of Northern Illinois University.  The average in the state is $64,978.

Jackson Potter, staff coordinator of the Chicago Teachers Union cautioned that the average salary figures likely include a large number of veteran teachers who retired this past spring.  More than 1,000 teachers retired, according to the latest figures from the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund.

While negotiations in the nation's third-largest school district are focusing on a number of issues, including job security and teacher evaluations, the complicated issue of teacher pay will always be a point of discussion across the country, said Chris Swanson, a vice president at Education Week.

"The idea that teachers have much more generous benefits packages than other occupations is complicated to get into," Swanson said.

Education Week's "Quality Counts" report published in January looked at teachers' pay parity, which measured teacher pay against 16 comparable occupations in each state.

The analysis found that public school teachers make 94 cents for every dollar earned by workers in 16 comparable occupations, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey data from 2010.

Teachers in Illinois make about 91.2 cents for every dollar earned in comparable occupations, the report stated, which ranks teacher pay in the lower half of the country, as 32nd from the top.

"It's not dramatically different," Swanson said of the teacher pay in the state.

Washington, D.C., ranked last, because, Swanson said, it has a "robust" labor market in general.  In other words, teacher salaries in the nation's capital may appear high, but compared with other salary levels, teacher pay can be relatively low there.

On the other end of the spectrum, 13 states pay teachers at least as much as comparable workers, if not more.  Wyoming teachers had the highest teacher salary relative to other comparable occupations in the index: 131.4.

The report analyzed salary without looking at benefits, but Swanson said there is variability for non-teachers and teachers that may work nine out of 12 months of the year.

"There are teachers who work more than nine months out of the year or who have additional income through coaching," Swanson said as examples of the wide range of teacher pay.

Lori Taylor, a professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, pointed out that the dispute in Chicago appears to be "a struggle over reforming a system that is perceived as broken."

One of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's reforms is extending the school schedule, which "is apparently very important to teachers, because they are fighting tooth and nail not to have that lengthened," Taylor said.

"You have to think the reason why people stay in those teacher jobs when the salary is not competitive is either the benefit package is amazing or their desire to help kids," Taylor said.  "Either there is a personal psychic benefit, which is the case for a lot of teachers, but never the case for everyone."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Most Kids Not Learning About Financial Responsibility in School

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- America's children may be back at school, but how much are they learning about money?  Apparently, not much.

According to a new poll of parents by, 70 percent say their children are not being taught about financial responsibility when they're in class.

Trae Bodge, a senior writer at RetailMeNot, says that's a mistake.

"We're sending our kids out there with no financial training of their own," she says.  

That may be one reason why many college students make poor choices about debt and credit cards.

"I think it's really crucial when kids go out into the world on their own that they have a very solid foundation of financial responsibility," Bodge says.

Parents can help remedy this by teaching their kids about budgets at an early age. Bodge encourages parents to get kids "set up with a couple of chores and an allowance and help them save their own money and understand the value of money."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Unveils New Student Loan Plan

John Moore/Getty Images(DENVER) -- President Obama formally announced his plan to lower college loan payments Wednesday, telling students in Denver that their education, and their ability to afford it, is essential to the future economic growth of the country.

“College isn't just one of the best investments you can make in your future, it's one of the best investments America can make in our future,” Obama said at the University of Colorado in Denver. “We want you in school.  But we shouldn't saddle you with debt when you're starting off.”

The new initiative would allow student borrowers to cap their loan repayments at 10 percent of their discretionary income starting next year, two years earlier than previously expected. The plan would also help students consolidate their loans at lower interest rates.

According to the president, the changes would help 1.6 million students lower their monthly payments by hundreds of dollars.

The president’s new student loan plan is part of a series of executive actions that he is taking to boost the economy while circumventing Republican lawmakers, who have blocked his $447 billion jobs bill in Congress.

“I intend to do everything in my power right now to act on behalf of the American people with or without Congress. We can't wait for Congress to do its job.  So where they won't act, I will,” Obama said.

The president’s speech Wednesday wrapped up his three-day Western trip, which also included stops in Nevada and California. In addition to promoting his “we won’t wait” campaign and announcing executive actions, the president also raised some serious campaign cash during the trip, delivering remarks at six campaign events.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Forever 21′s ‘Allergic to Algebra’ Shirt Draws Criticism

Robert Marquardt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A Forever 21 shirt with the words “Allergic to Algebra” printed on the front is the latest shirt to draw criticism for its seemingly anti-education message for girls and teenagers.

One shopper posted a photo on, a social news website, of the shirt on a mannequin with a neon green note attached to it with the message: “SMART girls are cool. Don’t buy this top.”

Many comments on expressed disdain for the shirt.

“It’s a big deal because there is still this childish perception -- among females AND males -- that girls can’t do math,” wrote a commenter by the handle mikgyver. “I can’t tell you how many times, as a girl who’s good at math, that I’ve been accused of ‘trying to be a guy’ when I get good grades in math.”

Another commenter, called “kadhai” and self-identified as a “student of mathematics,” wrote, “I’m curious as to what the story behind this top is, and who thought it would be a good idea to put something so offensive as this on a shirt.”

“Our merchandise is intended to appeal to all audiences, not to offend them,” Linda Chang, a senior marketing manager for Forever 21, told ABC News in a statement. “We would like to apologize to our customers as our intent was not to discredit education and we are taking the proper actions necessary.”

The company told ABC News that it is pulling the shirt from its website.

The trendy Los Angeles-based retailer is popular among teenagers, and the shirt is being sold for $12.80. There were no shirts that alluded to education in the men’s section of the website.

And the algebra shirt isn’t the only one on the website that seems to be down on school.

One shirt blatantly declares “Skool sucks” and another shirt has a list on the front that reads: “A+=amazing, B=brilliant, C=cool, D=delightful, F=fabulous.” The website’s tagline for selling the shirt is “F doesn’t always mean fail!”

One shirt seemed promising with the message,”I heart school” emblazoned on the front, but a photo of the back reveals the rest of the message: “not…”

The “Allergic to Algebra” Forever 21 shirt follows a controversial and similarly themed shirt from JCPenney.

Less than two weeks ago, JCPenney pulled a shirt from its website that drew sharp criticism from consumers calling it “sexist.” The girls’ shirt read: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

After a petition was created to remove the shirt, the company obliged and apologized to its customers. “We want to apologize to our customers,” Ann Marie Bishop, a spokeswoman for JCPenney, told ABC News. “We agreed that the shirt does not deliver an appropriate message.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


High-Tech Classrooms does not Mean High Test Scores

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s out with the old and in with the new for many classrooms across the country that are updating their school’s technology for an overall better learning experience for students.

But better technology doesn’t necessarily equate to better test scores.

The New York Times reports that there’s a lot of evidence that technology isn’t the answer to improving learning. A division of the Education Department that rates classroom curriculums found that educational software is not an improvement over textbooks, despite the increasing popularity of tablets in the classrooms.

While schools are busy investing billions of dollars in technology, even amid budget cuts and layoffs, they should be aware that there is little evidence this strategy is improving basic learning.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Back to School: How Not to Pay Full Price

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's almost time for kids to go back to school, and that means parents will be getting ready to shell out big bucks to get their children ready for the upcoming academic year.

In fact, the average parent spends about $600 per child.

So how can parents save money on back to school items?  One suggestion is to buy used when possible.

School Supplies

When it comes to supplies -- pencils, pens, scissors and binders -- there are very few places that have all these items used, so you should buy new.  But that doesn't mean you have to pay full price.

The latest trend in back to school bargains is to shop for basics at dollar stores.


This is a tough one, because back to school shopping is a tradition and it gets kids a little excited about the prospect of returning to class.  But it can get expensive.  You should buy new and buy used.

First, get some basic second-hand pieces.  Of course, trying to hit garage sales can be time-consuming.  If you have a smartphone, check out this new app called iGarageSale.  It lets you search garage sales listed on Craigslist by the type of item you're looking for.  The app knows your location, and maps out all the local sales that match your search.

But shopping in stores is a tradition, so set a budget with your kids and make it about finding those two or three special items that get your kids excited about going back to school.

Sports Equipment

Families spend hundreds of dollars per child, per sport, on athletic equipment.  And kids grow out of it fast.

One option is to shop on eBay, but it's hard to get a good fit and feel for equipment.  A better option is to find a used sporting goods store, such as Play It Again Sports.  This chain has hundreds of locations and you can find lots of items for a fraction of the cost.

So, for sports equipment, you should buy used -- but with one exception: You should always buy helmets new.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Facing Funding Cutbacks, Texas School Gets Creative

Jetta Productions/Thinkstock(HUTTO, Texas) -- Like many other U.S. school districts, the one in Hutto, Texas, north of Austin, is bracing for the deepest budget cuts since World War II.

About $4.8 billion in state aid to education in Texas is predicted to disappear in the next two years.  What sets Hutto apart -- along with a few other districts across the country -- is its spirited response.  It is cutting costs, of course.  But Hutto is also experimenting with money-making schemes; some clever, some inspired, some wacky.

Superintendent Douglas Killian says proudly, "We're doing some weird stuff."

Take the hippo.  According to local lore, a hippopotamus belonging to a traveling carnival once escaped in Hutto.  Ever since, the school's sports teams have been known as the Hustlin' Hippos.  Killian and his board are now trademarking the teams' hippo logo with an eye to licensing its use on apparel.

Or take the buses: the school district has 43 big yellow buses, whose broad sides practically cry out for advertising.  So, now they have it.  Thanks to a contract Hutto signed with Alpha Media, a company that specializes in putting ads on school buses, the district stands to earn $40,000 in ad revenue this year and $60,000 a year moving forward.

The district accepts only age-inappropriate advertisements and rejects any that have sexual or political content or that promote alcohol, tobacco, drugs or gambling.

Or take the vacant lot: the district owns a vacant lot, which it has put on the market, hoping to earn $1.3 million from the sale.  Board president Doug Gaul admits, "There've been no expressions of interest yet."

Killian says, "We're having to be creative.  We started talking about all this back in September.  I met with all the district staff and teachers and asked them for ideas.  They've been absolutely cooperative."

Suggestions included such cost-saving measures as removing the mini-refrigerators from classrooms and turning off school parking lot lights at night.  These and other moves have resulted in lower utility costs. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tax Tip: Uncle Sam Brings Tax-Deduction Apple For Teachers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With school districts around the country continuing to cut expenses, teachers in many areas are being forced more now than ever to fill some of the gaps. A number of teachers often find themselves shelling out their own money to purchase classroom books, computer equipment and other supplies.

Kathy Pickering with H&R Block says educators can take a tax deduction on some of those expenses.

“That's $250 for teachers who are using out-of-pocket money to purchase classroom supplies,” she said.

And you can take advantage of the deduction no matter what tax form you use.

“They can claim a deduction on the front of their return, so this is a deduction you can get even if you don't itemize your deductions,” said Eric Smith with the IRS.

Just make sure to keep all of your receipts.

The deduction is available to all teachers, principals and counselors from kindergarten to the 12th grade.  If both spouses are teachers, you can deduct $500 for the household.

The deduction does not apply to parents who home-school their children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio