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Entries in Teachers (4)

Tuesday
Sep112012

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

Tuesday
Apr032012

Michigan Teacher Disciplined for Not Giving Boss Facebook Access?

Courtesy Kimberly Hester(CASSAPOLIS, Mich.) -- When Kimberly Hester of Cass County, Mich. posted with permission a photo a coworker sent her on Facebook, she didn't think it would offend the public school where she taught, or lead the superintendent to demand access to her Facebook page.  But a photo of her coworker with her pants down did just that.

Hester, 27, was a full-time peer professional, or teacher's aide, at Frank Squires Elementary in Cassapolis, Mich. for about two years. In April 2011, a coworker texted a photo showing herself with her pants around her ankles, with the message "thinking of you" as a joke.

"She's actually quite funny.  It was spur of the moment," Hester said, adding that there was nothing pornographic about the picture, which only showed the pants, part of her legs, and the tips of her shoes.

"I couldn't stop laughing so I asked for her permission to post it [on Facebook]," she said.  The coworker agreed.  Hester said all this took place on their own time, not at or during work.

Hester said a parent (not of one of her students) showed the photo to the superintendent, calling it unprofessional and offensive.  Hester said the photo could only be viewed by her Facebook friends.  The parent happened to be a family friend.

In a few days, the superintendent of Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, Robert Colby, asked Hester to come to his office.

"Instead of asking to take the photo down and viewing it from my friend's point of view, they called me into the office without my union," she said.  Hester is a member of the Michigan Education Association, which represents more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and support staff in the state, according to its website.

The superintendent asked that she show her Facebook profile page.

"I asked for my union several times, and they refused.  They wanted me to do it right then and there," Hester said.

Hester's story echoes reports of employers asking job applicants for access to their Facebook pages.

Robert McCormick, a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, said normally in the private sector and in a non-union stetting there is nothing to prevent an employer from asking for access to a Facebook page.  But in a private sector setting, if an employee is summoned to a disciplinary meeting with the employer and requests union representation at that meeting, it is an unfair labor practice to refuse that representation.

Hester said she and her coworker pictured in the photo were put on seven weeks of paid administrative leave, and they were eventually suspended for 10 days.  She said the coworker, who was up for tenure, was forced to resign.

Bill Young, an attorney representing Hester through the Michigan Education Association, said Hester's case will go before a private arbiter under the collective bargaining agreement in late May.  Young said the coworker has taken another job.

Hester said she returned to work in September when the school year began.  While Hester previously worked assisting a teacher for emotionally impaired students in kindergarten through the fourth grade, she was assigned another program and was placed under a strict directive.  She said she was instructed not to speak with coworkers unless it was about a student and could not go to the bathroom before asking.

She said her contract allowed her 14 paid days off but the school would not let her use them.  She said she was also directed to read books about communication and to take 49 online classes.  She said that and the work environment at school took a toll on her emotionally in November 2011.

"I had a nervous breakdown, went to hospital and was put on medication," said Hester, who has been on unpaid leave since November.

Hester said she went on leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act at first.  Then, she said, the superintendent refused to give her benefits.  Next week she will have a pre-trial hearing for worker's compensation.  She is demanding her job back and back pay, $15,000 to date.

She also wants an apology from the school.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar202011

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

Steve Mason/Thinkstock(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

Saturday
Feb192011

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