[Vision2020] Idaho Teachers Among Nation's Lowest Paid

Phil Nisbet pcnisbet1 at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 12 01:01:21 PDT 2005

Did anybody look at the hard numbers or is the thread simply pure 

Idaho has 20,990 teachers in K-12. 

Has 250,000 students in K-12.  NEA

Entry wage for Idaho teachers 1-12 is $36,650. Lower figures are because 
Preschool and Kindergarten teachers earn substantially less money on entry.  
Further, general education, which includes other training and librarians, 
audio visual people and the rest, make the general education average entry 
salary $23, 358 a year.

Idaho teachers put in 1600 hours a year according to Idaho Labor.  That 
gives an entry level hourly wage of $22.91 an hour for Primary and Secondary 
school teachers.

The following professions exceed teaching entry hourly wages;

Engineering Managers $30.62
Electronics Engineers $26.67
Mining Engineers $28.51
Nuclear Engineers $36.62
(Note that most engineers do not make an hourly wage at entry equal to the 
pay of a teacher)
Atmospheric and Space Scientists $25.71
Entry level doctors of all stripes with wages after internships of $29-50
Power Plant operating engineers $25.78
Air Traffic Controllers $28.89
Transportation Inspectors $22.93

Other than for Engineers, teacher’s entry salaries are higher than for any 
of the people in Sciences or even than entry level in the legal or business 

The variation is that other professionals work year round, the bulk of entry 
level jobs in the professions do hot have health benefits for the first two 
years or vestment in retirement plans.

So other than for nine out of several hundred professions in Idaho, Teachers 
are making better hourly wages.  Their principle problem is the lack of a 
year round work load, though this is compensated for by better benefits 
packages than other entry level professional positions.  And compared to the 
$7.66 an hour average entry level wage for all workers in Idaho, they are 
not doing badly.

It is of interest though, that Pre-school and kindergarten teachers, adult 
Education teachers and a series of others make far less than the Primary and 
Secondary teachers.  It is they and the support personnel which move the 
average entry level wage for all education down to an average of only 
$23,000 a year.

Another post suggested that teachers making low entry level wages have to 
stock their classrooms with useful items as part of their professional 
obligations.  As a geologist, I can plainly state that companies require 
professional gear to be supplied by their hires, including appropriate work 
clothes, professional associations and fees, continuing education and 
conference attendance, work tools like hammers, compasses and the like, etc, 
etc, etc.

The actual disparity is more interesting.  Other professionals end up with 
higher wages in later life.  Teaching positions have a maximum wage much 
lower on either a yearly or an hour basis to other professions.  So teachers 
see less of an increase with years of experience than other professionals.  
It may be noted that in other professions, the practitioners are not tenured 
and are not covered by strong Unions, are very likely to move from job to 
job frequently and are also likely to be moved from area to area within a 
company framework, on the company’s whim.  There is a pay off for this less 
stable work environment for other professionals, the brass ring and chance 
to become a company owner or big company manager.

One of the troubles with suggesting that most teachers would want to move to 
higher teaching wages in California or elsewhere is that the cost of living 
in those other locations is much higher than here in Idaho.  Even here in 
Moscow, the average home price is less than half that in those higher wage 
areas like California.  An extra grand a month is not likely to convince 
somebody to move to a place where they can not afford to purchase a home.

Now I will grant that when I was a child, teachers had one of the worst 
professions on record.  But now that I have looked at the statistics, what I 
see is a good entry level wage for a median pretty stable professional job.  
>From back in the days when there were 30-35 kids in a classroom, they seem 
to have dropped down to a pupil/teacher ratio in schools of 15:1.

So the question is, should we simply pass on a blanket wage increase for all 
of education?  Or maybe we should be looking at selective wage increases to 
bring teachers in Special Education, Pre-school and Kindergarten up in 
wages?  For that matter, how do we offer a better brass ring for teachers 
toward the ends of their careers?  How about increases in teacher annual pay 
by keeping the doors open and allowing more teachers to work the summers in 
the schools?

Phil Nisbet

PS I find it interesting that the IEA and the AFT use figures that are for 
‘teachers’ which are a mix of the various portions of the teaching 
profession and are not Primary and Secondary teaching jobs.  They do 
un-include some of the other lower paid educators, which is why they come up 
with a figure a couple of grand higher per year, but the rest of the recent 
AP article is skewed by comparing apples to oranges.

Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today - it's FREE! 

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list