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School Issues: Teachers Hit the Jackpot in Columbus

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott School Issues: Teachers Hit the Jackpot in ColumbusPhoto via Wikipedia.
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Columbus is the best place for single women, the best place for African American families, one of the smartest cities in the nation, a perennial top-tenner on the fat list, and according to new research, it’s home to some of the most well-compensated teachers in the United States. Time to celebrate, right?

Or not. Media coverage of the recent findings on teacher salaries has been decidedly dour. Yesterday’s newspaper story quoted Columbus Education Association president Tracey Johnson saying it’s not really that great here:

“If you can go and make more money in another district and you don’t necessarily have to deal with the issues you have here, we have teachers that have decided to go elsewhere.”

“Issues” is a careful term. Certainly, relationships between the district and teachers are rosier than those in nearby suburbs such as Reynoldsburg, where the fall semester hosted a two-week strike. Cynics speculated online that “issues” was a reference to impoverished children.

Part of the frosty reaction to the study might be explained by looking at the source of the research. The study was conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The group itself is controversial. Created by the Thomas B. Fordham foundation in 2000, it has published studies that suggest that college professors award easy As, and studies that track teacher attendance. It’s certainly not the most popular reform group in the teaching community.

To conclude that Columbus teachers are among the most well-compensated in the United States, NCTQ compared 113 large districts. When it adjusted salary schedules with cost of living, it found that Columbus teachers lifetime (thirty year) earnings stand at about 2.4 million dollars.

That puts Columbus teachers at the top of the (adjusted) teaching heap. In fact, it only takes thirty years to put the professionals on par with the median forty year earnings of chemical, energy and aerospace engineers, per the Brookings Institute.

Not bad.

And the teachers themselves might say the same thing. While the district requires that press queries be thoroughly managed by the communications office, personal correspondences with teachers have included these observations, printed with permission:

“People who blame the students are usually incompetent at their jobs whether it be teachers, administrators, or union leaders. Kids/culture/poverty are real issues but never an excuse. Maybe we will come to a time when teachers only teach for 10 years before changing careers. I do suspect the 30-year teacher tract will become less automatic in the coming years.”

and

“While the pay scale, in general, for teachers is lacking across the U.S., especially when compared to our general workload, and amount of work done outside of our work day, doing what I do, where I do it, is a pretty wonderful thing… In all honesty, you couldn’t pay me to do anything else. I would take this job over anything else I can imagine that might pay six figures.”

So, maybe Columbus is a good place to teach, after all.

To read the full report from NCTQ, CLICK HERE.

To read more updates on School Issues, CLICK HERE.

For more ongoing discussion on Columbus City Schools, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

Correction (12/4/14 4:58pm) — The Dispatch quote was originally attributed incorrectly to Columbus Education Czar Rhonda Johnson, but is actually from Columbus Education Association President Tracey Johnson.

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