America's Teachers are Underpaid? Surprise, surprise.
May 13, 2015 7:43 PM   Subscribe

The top 25 hedge fund managers earn more than all kindergarten teachers in U.S. combined. "'Last year turned out to be the worst one for this elite group of investors since the stock market meltdown of 2008,' Institutional Investors' Stephen Taub writes, adding, 'How bad was it?' apparently without irony."

"The Education Department's tallies of all teachers in elementary and secondary schools nationwide found that they made about $56,600 [in the 2011-2012 school year]. But kindergarten teachers are a different group. For that, we turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, the nation had about 158,000 kindergarten teachers, excluding whose who work in special education. The average salary was $53,480.

So. What about the other end of the spectrum? An annual ranking of top hedge fund managers found that the 25 most successful pulled in $11.62 billion in 2014.
...
In other words, those 25 men -- yes, they were all men -- made about $464 million apiece, just a bit more than the teachers' $53,000."
posted by ourt (82 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is my surprised face. 😐
posted by brand-gnu at 7:58 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


God damn leeches is what they are. Such obscenely wealthy "capitalists" exist for only one purpose: to carve a niche for themselves from the labors of others, from which to extract obscene profits from society. They bring no lasting benefit to our world.

This sort of compensation goes way beyond shameful, into a dark, ugly domain where even shame would fear to tread. In any just society - one that truly valued equality, and not just as a lip-serviced sop to the masses - this sort of Croesean wealth would be illegal.

It's true: they only call it "class warfare" when the poor fight back.
posted by darkstar at 8:04 PM on May 13, 2015 [69 favorites]


University costs reflect Administrative Gods. Federal money pays leechs on the host. Increase of federal loans feeds a pig farm. Doubt me? Compare percentage of admin cost to ... any other job.
posted by Mblue at 8:06 PM on May 13, 2015


Yeah, look how many school districts are in deficit and it so bad, teachers are going to prison for altering test scores so they can keep their jobs. The failure of the public schools is partly a funding issue, we need to pay these folks more because our children are worth it.
posted by clavdivs at 8:11 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm going to make the world's most unpopular argument here and ask: is $53k really underpaid? I totally agree that hedge fund managers (and all financial types, really) are grossly, ridiculously overpaid and shouldn't be, but $53k sounds about right for the training involved in becoming a kindergarten teacher and the difficulty of the job itself (assuming one isn't overworked and is properly supplied). There are a lot of other professions, equally necessary, that have a much better claim to being underpaid.

I mean, unless you live in a big city, $53k is pretty good money. That's about on par for, or better than, any four-year degree professional barring some outliers like engineers. I know loads of college instructors making less than that.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


This isn't about jealousy. Money that the ultra-wealthy accrue is lost to the economy. They spend a bit of it on lavish luxuries and premium real estate, sure, but most of it is squirreled away in tax-free accounts, earning minimal interest (which is still millions and millions).

That money is doing diddly-bupkiss. It might as well be turned into gold coins and sat on by a dragon. It's not buying the ultra-wealthy anything - there's not anything out there with a value they're willing to pay for that will move anything but a fraction of that money around.

Tax it. Tax the hell out of it. Invest it, spend it or lose it! Funnel wealth into human endeavor, through consumption, direct investment or through taxes that pay for infrastructure and expanding basic human services! The US's economy does a lot better that way, Capitalism does a lot better that way, and rich folks find they have new and unimagined luxuries they can buy, even when taxed "onerously."

You can't buy a vacation home with a prime view of Saturn's rings unless you're willing to give up a whole hell of a lot more to taxes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2015 [95 favorites]


There are a lot of other professions, equally necessary, that have a much better claim to being underpaid.

I can only think of two: child care workers and preschool teachers.
posted by kozad at 8:23 PM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


> unless you live in a big city, $53k is pretty good money

For a single person starting out a career, it's great. For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:24 PM on May 13, 2015 [44 favorites]


Okayyy... that seems like a pretty clumsy way for Obama to make a point about... something.

I am not at all surprised that the top 25 hedge fund managers out earn more than all the kindergarten teachers combined. Though not high school teachers, whatever that says. It's not all that clear to me that anything meaningful can be drawn from the stat, other than the top 25 hedge fund managers make buttloads of money.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:25 PM on May 13, 2015


"Tax it. Tax the hell out of it. Invest it, spend it or lose it!"

This is a good observation and why Rockefeller and Morgan just gave the money away rather then let the govt. take it.
posted by clavdivs at 8:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't really care what hedge fund managers earned, so long as the sweeping majority of people, including kindergarten teachers, earned a livable wage, with sturdy support for health care and housing.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


> The failure of the public schools is partly a funding issue, we need to pay these folks more because our children are worth it

My daughter and her teacher, seen here a few days ago, agree.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Mind you that the average ~10% of them make about 36K and ~10% around 85K.

Capitalism has always demanded the majority of workers are underpaid and if they are unpaid even better. Slavery and undocumented workers are what we built this country on.
posted by edgeways at 8:33 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Nobody needs that much money. Nobody deserves that much money. 400 million dollars? Jesus Christ. The idea that any one person should be monetarily enriched by that amount in just one year is beyond obscene; it's just absurd. It makes a mockery of the monetary system itself.

Fuck taxing it. I'm so sick of being on the losing side of a rigged fucking game, and a whole fucking lot of Americans are too. Every fucking year they get richer, no matter what. Why don't we take it? Why don't we just take it? We can use it to build roads and bridges and schools. We can invest it in things that will actually make life better for more than a few dozen people.
posted by clockzero at 8:36 PM on May 13, 2015 [31 favorites]


For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good.


And especially not good if you don't have universal health care.

Then there's the salary incentive if, as a society, you want to make teaching seem like it's an awesome career choice because you care about it and it'll be a good paycheque. That requires public investment.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hedge fund managers have better PR. Here in the south, teachers are the scapegoat for everything wrong with society. They are indoctrinating children into a secret, liberal, socialist club, while hedge fund mangers are angels creating jobs.

Meanwhile, the folks who believe this live in former factory towns who were devastated by said hedge fund managers chasing a bigger return. Yet, they can overlook it because the teacher making 40k is an "elitist" unlike the that multi-millionaire industrialist.
posted by remo at 8:37 PM on May 13, 2015 [37 favorites]


kozad: I can only think of two: child care workers and preschool teachers.

Seriously? Here's a list, right off the top of my head.
At least 95% of the people working in agriculture.
Educational assistants and aids.
College and university adjuncts, graduate students, and non-professorial instructors.
Social workers.
Scientific techs, assistants, and analysts.
Health care workers below the level of nurse.
Most factory workers.
Warehouse workers.

I mean, I could go on and on. There are loads of necessary professions not even being paid a living wage.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [35 favorites]


The industrialist is rich, and he says you can be like him. That goes a long way, for some people.

Teachers, on the other hand, expect you to work hard. And for what? To be normal? That's for other people.

No, no, I like my friend the industrialist. One day, I can be like him.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


In case you don't feel like clicking: Obama's point, incidentally, was not overt class hostility toward the hedge funders. Instead, he wants to tax carried interest more. This will not, we estimate, make hedge fund compensation equivalent to that of a teacher. Or vice versa.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:45 PM on May 13, 2015 [3 favorites]




In short: this industry which plays with the market (and has the potential to wreck it) should contribute to society (via taxation) more so that it can't afford to pay its top guys obscene amounts of money, just irrationally large amounts instead. It's a tough law to get passed because everyone would rather debate the same boring tropes about individuals that discuss the banking system, which...actually nobody is reading this comment are they? I could say anything. Poop. Monkeybutt. Oh well.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:50 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm going to make the world's most unpopular argument here and ask: is $53k really underpaid?

Not particularly, no. But then, doesn't that just make the headline worse? The point isn't that kindergarten teachers are incredibly poor, it's that 25 hedge fund managers have way too much money. The comparison's mostly to point out that there are more deserving people who, like, contribute to society and stuff. All you're really saying is that, actually, those hedge fund managers have WAY, WAY, WAY too much money.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


The corpse in the library: For a single person starting out a career, it's great. For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good.

It's not bad. I mean, assuming your partner has a similar career, it puts your household income in the six figures. It's better than most careers pay.

I'm not saying they shouldn't make more... but honestly, it feels like the thing chasing teachers away from the field isn't the money, it's the work conditions. Get them normal hours, protection from being fired over having a life, a big reduction in standardized testing, drop those stupid performance metrics they get judged on, and supply them properly. I'm pretty sure nearly all of them (only excepting a few that really are underpaid, probably) would take that over a raise any day. In fact the raise may be counterproductive; it just gives admin more incentive to overwork a few teachers instead of hiring an appropriate number.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:34 PM on May 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


For comparison, an average teacher's salary in Ontario is in the mid $70k range. Start at about $45k, after 30 years or so, $90k. Ontario is on the higher end for Canada, but those are the numbers I'm most familiar with.
posted by bonehead at 10:07 PM on May 13, 2015


Yeah - there's a lot lost in that equation about the salary. My mom is a nearly 30 year veteran teacher - high school - national board certified - in Florida - makes less than that average for Kindergarten teachers. My wife - about 10 years in - here in California - makes what I made about 3 years into my engineering career 15 years ago. They both have higher degrees than I do. They both put up with infinitely more crap than I ever could and it's mostly from above and petty politics from their peers. The kids they can deal with.

I would love to teach, but I would hate dealing with what they have.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:08 PM on May 13, 2015 [13 favorites]


I don't think teachers are the important part here, and suggest that instead of veering off into another discussion of how much metafilter loves teachers, we get back to figuring out the best way to eat the rich.

I think a Bearnaise sauce. It's ironic. And buttery.
posted by dejah420 at 10:10 PM on May 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


But then, doesn't that just make the headline worse

The headline of the article says nothing about teachers being underpaid. Framing it that way was a rather editorial slant from the poster. Nor was the point of the article (or Obama) that hedge fund managers make too much. The article was just a fact check and Obama's point, as I mentioned earlier, is weakly connected to the factoid mentioned.

As for people getting paid what they deserve, well, good luck with that venture.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:13 PM on May 13, 2015


Unions.

But that's a dirty word.
posted by bonehead at 10:15 PM on May 13, 2015 [16 favorites]


The ironic thing is that "the invisible hand", that bunch of bullshit, should, in theory, adjust at the top just as much as at the bottom. So even if we took 90% of the wealth from the leeches, the toys they buy and the other things they do with their money wouldn't cost them proportionally more than they spend now.

Most of the richest people now are plunderers, pure-and-simple, and don't have a connection to the idea that a wealthy society is a generator of wealth, whereas a wealthy elite is a drain on wealth. And if your society's wealth is slowly slipping away, eventually even plunderers cannot get richer.
posted by maxwelton at 10:26 PM on May 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm going to make the world's most unpopular argument here and ask: is $53k really underpaid?

Perhaps if you unpack the word 'teacher' to its real meaning: the people whose job it is to quite literally pass on the accumulated knowledge of human society, turning small monstrous humans into larger and hopefully slightly less monstrous humans.

Teachers provide a service to society at least as important as that provided by doctors.

So, yeah, they're underpaid.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:28 PM on May 13, 2015 [19 favorites]


The failure of the public schools is partly a funding issue, we need to pay these folks more because our children are worth it.

Ugh. Our schools aren't failing but your optometrist I'm not so sure about...
posted by Fuka at 10:30 PM on May 13, 2015


What on earth does that mean?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:31 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I couldn't afford to go to an optometrist, until I was diagnosed with a cataract. Now my eye exams are covered by OHIP again! All it took was an irreversible decline in my vision.
posted by jb at 10:48 PM on May 13, 2015


As pointed out above, Obama was making this comparison to argue for the closing of the carried interest tax loophole. The loophole means that hedge fund managers, despite their hundred million dollar incomes, pay taxes at a lower rate than the school teachers. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who raises millions from Wall Street types, has been instrumental in protecting the loophole.
posted by JackFlash at 10:54 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


FWIW: A substitute teacher in Seattle schools (and pretty much anywhere else I've been in WA, CA and a whole lot of other states) requires the same level of certification as an entry-level teacher. In Seattle, after working 90 days, subs make $187 per day, which is the highest sub pay I have found in the area and beats the hell out of what my sister can net in Southern California. If that was 251 working days in a calendar year (the ballpark for a lot of people), that would come out to just under $47,000.

Except there are only about 180 school days, so that's $33,660. And it's nearly impossible for a substitute to work all of those.

You get no benefits. None. The last contract, signed just two years ago, was the *first time* substitutes had any form of due process in the event of a complaint lodged against them by anyone in the district. That contract also offered the first raise classified staff (office folks, etc) had gotten in something like ten years, and it was a bad joke, but after ten years they couldn't really pass it up.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:01 PM on May 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's often said that we're living in a Second Gilded Age, and while I don't think that really resonates with most people (namely because they don't really know about the First Gilded Age), history will prove that title to be pretty accurate. This is a time in which the government is a democracy in a general sense, but the more dominant, day-to-day, rubber-meets-the-road, realistic description of our system of governance is a plutocracy. No one wants to call it a plutocracy, but that's almost certainly what the history books will call this era, from a time in our future that I hope hope hope society places importance on people instead of profits.

Capitalism won't ever really be gotten rid of, but we can muzzle it. Make it pay for society, instead of what we have now, in which society pays for capitalism.
posted by zardoz at 11:42 PM on May 13, 2015 [21 favorites]


25 hedge fund managers make more than 1/13 of a whole profession, and people are quibbling about whether teachers have it too good? The USA will never have another revolution unless cable goes out nationwide.
posted by benzenedream at 11:44 PM on May 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


25 hedge fund managers make more than 1/13 of a whole profession, and people are quibbling about whether teachers have it too good? The USA will never have another revolution unless cable goes out nationwide.

Hmm...
posted by clockzero at 11:53 PM on May 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


You guys! There's this great invention I heard about...
posted by Token Meme at 12:36 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


Poop. Monkeybutt. Oh well.

Hedge Funder theme song: "Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to."

IMO, closing the carried interest loophole should only be a part of the solution. Broadly speaking, the central problem in current governance is the almost complete abandonment of reason. When outlaws on the fringe of society have the power to make laws then the inevitable happens, the scope of the law changes such that the outlaws are no longer outside the law. Even worse, the power to manipulate a mostly under-educated populace creates the bizzaro world in which we live--one where teachers and their unions are bad and hedge funds (the bastard children of Milken-esque junk bond shenanigans) become "Angel" funds to certain sectors of the economy instead of the modern day Pirates, Looters, and Sowers of Salt that they are.

More Civics education. More Science education. More History education. Because this was not meant to be. All the gobbledygook you hear from flacks for the right (and a few from the left, sadly) about the Founders and the Constitution and free markets is like a blinding blizzard that keeps us from being able to safely drive down the highway into the future.

Do you want a brief, less than 200 page, excursion back towards sanity? Pick up a copy of Frank Bourgin's almost forgotten study: "The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez-Faire in the Early Republic."
posted by CincyBlues at 1:17 AM on May 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


How did the French Revolution work out for the aristos again? They do know they're massively outnumbered, right?
posted by longbaugh at 2:08 AM on May 14, 2015



It's not bad. I mean, assuming your partner has a similar career, it puts your household income in the six figures. It's better than most careers pay.


Try "assuming" your partner is unemployed and run your calculation again.

Then try "assuming" you don't have a partner in the first place and run your calculation again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yup. I make just about $53k, give or take a bit depending on my side business, in a city with a low cost of living. When my partner was employed we were very comfortable. Now my partner has a disabling health condition and has been unable to work for a long time, with no prospect of being able to work anytime in the near future, and with a lot of medical bills. We're making it work on my ~53k although I worry about money a lot. But if we had kids, or lived almost anywhere else, or did not have a safety net in the form of my parents helping us pay for our new roof last year when it started raining indoors? We would not be making it work, at least not without huge sacrifices.

What I do is arguably important to society in an abstract way but it pales in comparison to teaching young kids. Those teachers should be making more than I do, or at least as much.
posted by Stacey at 3:45 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


~For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good.

~And especially not good if you don't have universal health care.


Let's not forget, too, that teachers, unique among almost all professions, are expected to spend out of their own pockets for necessary classroom supplies for their students. I'm pretty sure hedgefund managers don't have to buy their own copier paper when printing reports.

They probably don't act as counselors when one of their workers has a bad day, either.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:04 AM on May 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


Given that remuneration for a job is (naïvely) supposed to reflect the value of that job to the industry, and thus society as a whole, what the suffering fuck do hedge fund managers do that is so valuable? Like, I'm seriously asking: what does a hedge fund manager do that is worth $400 million? That's actually the GDP of a small African country right there.
posted by prismatic7 at 4:17 AM on May 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


The points everyone is making still stand but the methodology used to determine hedge fund comp is really wrong. It basically says profits=comp for the lead guy, but big funds have lots of employees who share the wealth.

Dont get me wrong. I'm not sure 50 mil per person isn't just as obscene as 500 mil.

I think the more trenchant criticism here isn't that they make more than school teachers. Its that a certain % of that comp is a direct transfer from pension funds to HF managers for a service that is extremely over priced and delivers negative value over time.
posted by JPD at 4:21 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


For a hedge fund manager to make 400 mil dollars it means he built a company the manages something like 10-20 bil dollars and generated an ok return on capital. Or he managed a.much smaller pool of cash and had a pretty good year investing .

Its actually a pretty simple answer. The better question is why are clients willing to pay those fees.
posted by JPD at 4:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sure, JPD, but what does this putative hedge fund manager actually do? Why is it so difficult to do what he does that he has to earn hundreds of times more than the President of the United States of America, who manages trillions of dollars in short and long term investments, and gets to decide whether or not to obliterate the fucking planet with nukes? Let alone thousands of times more than a kindergarten teacher. Presumably hedge fund managers have kindergarten teachers? They're not just springing fully formed from the golden truth nuggets of day traders?
posted by prismatic7 at 4:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Hedge Funds Are For Suckers
posted by joedan at 4:54 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


The points everyone is making still stand but the methodology used to determine hedge fund comp is really wrong.

And it also includes the return on the manager's own capital.
posted by jpe at 5:02 AM on May 14, 2015


How did the French Revolution work out for the aristos again? They do know they're massively outnumbered, right?
posted by longbaugh at 2:08 AM on May 14 [+] [!]


15 years after the revolution, France was ruled by an Emperor. 15 years after that, the Bourbon monarchy had been fully restored. 30 years after that, France had (another) Bonapartist Emperor. For about 70 years after the fall of that Empire, France was governed by a corrupt, unstable Republic which was beholden (in alternating elections) to the traditional aristocracy and plutocratic classes, respectively. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

So, it worked out pretty well for them after all.
posted by Avenger at 5:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


yes but guillotines are such an appealing trope, how will metafilter survive if we don't have half a dozen people drop that without thinking in the daily outragefilter thread?
posted by indubitable at 5:40 AM on May 14, 2015


I'm a former teacher and I'll admit, although normally I really hate when people do this, that I haven't read the entire thread because comments like this "I'm going to make the world's most unpopular argument here and ask: is $53k really underpaid?" exhaust me and there're only so many of them I can read before I just can't handle the thread.

One of the problem is that your salary might be $53k but you are expected to spend SO MUCH MONEY on your classroom/students. I had to buy my own paper! I had about a hundred and twenty students and they gave me two reams of paper a month. With homework and class handouts, including the intensive readings I was supposed to find and give them, that lasted a week. I once worked in a school that didn't have a working copy machine so I had to go to Staples and get them to photocopy ALL of my materials for over a hundred students and I had to pay for that myself. If you give a four page test to a hundred students, do you know how much that costs to print? And that's ONE TEST. I was a social studies teacher -- I had to buy my own maps! Do you know how much those big classroom maps cost? A LOT. Plus I either had to buy or print copies of maps for my students to use and laminate them. Laminating sheets are really effing expensive! I had to buy holiday presents for all my homeroom students; I would have done this anyway but I was told I had to. Decent gifts for thirty-five kids? I went to Target and got them each four small items from the dollar bin. That's still $140. If a student didn't have the required materials -- pencils, notebooks, binders, paper, whatever -- I had to provide those. Scissors, bins, poster paper, construction paper, stickers, journals, pencil grips for students who were legally entitled to them based on their IEP that the school didn't provide and for which I would get in trouble if they were not used -- I had to buy all that with my money.

I agree with the posters saying stuff like "For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good." but also that 53k is NOWHERE NEAR 53k. Being a teacher is really, really expensive.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:41 AM on May 14, 2015 [43 favorites]


Hedge fund managers do no better than picking stocks/investments at random. Indeed, they often do worse. They're vampires. Take all their money from them, sell off their property, and invest it all in the national public works program we dearly need.
posted by dis_integration at 5:43 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's good to see Obama trying to give people a better sense of the sheer scales of inequality involved here by dropping little factoids like this. He has much more visibility than niche left wing publications and every little bit helps — I don't think the phrase "the 1%" would be in our collective consciousness if not for Occupy Wall Street and the media coverage they got, and now it's out there for everyone to turn over in their heads.

It should be just as troubling to your average citizen that these megarich financiers probably pay a lower percentage of their humongous income in taxes than those teachers do, too. And incidentally, as others pointed out, that's what Obama is actually campaigning for here, closing the carried interest loophole. But I suspect that is a little more abstract and easy for the right wing noise machine to muddle and handwave away than the absolute values of income.
posted by indubitable at 5:55 AM on May 14, 2015


Take all their money from them, sell off their property

Under the 5th amendment, of course, we'd have to pay them fair market value for anything seized, so it's not clear how that would do any good.
posted by jpe at 5:57 AM on May 14, 2015


Also, and I'll stop commenting after this, but if you complain about how effing much money you spend you become "not a team player" or your commitment to students is questioned (no one really cares about your commitment to your landlord). I've had principals berate the staff in faculty meetings for whining about having to pay for their own paper when there are "real problems". Okay, sir, I guess my student loan payments from my Master's degree which I was hoping my salary would cover are not "real problems". Obviously if I just CARED ENOUGH about students I would bankrupt myself.

Seriously, it's not just that you have to spend so much of your own money, it's that if you imply that you are not overjoyed to be doing this you are seen as a "problem" and, when you are evaluated on every aspect of your participation in the learning community, that can contribute to you losing your job.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2015 [28 favorites]


My first year of teaching I dutifully collected receipts for write off purposes. I accumulated $2,000 dollars in receipts for money I spent on school related materials. I turned them in to my accountant the maximum deduction I could claim for classroom materials was *$250*. I don't bother keeping receipts anymore, but I know good and damn well I spend more than $250 a year on classroom materials.

Hell, I spent more than $250 *this month* on my classroom.
posted by absalom at 6:06 AM on May 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


The corpse in the library: "> unless you live in a big city, $53k is pretty good money

For a single person starting out a career, it's great. For someone a few decades into their career, trying to raise a family and pay a mortgage and all that, it's not very good.
"


Avenger: "How did the French Revolution work out for the aristos again? They do know they're massively outnumbered, right?
posted by longbaugh at 2:08 AM on May 14 [+] [!]


15 years after the revolution, France was ruled by an Emperor. 15 years after that, the Bourbon monarchy had been fully restored. 30 years after that, France had (another) Bonapartist Emperor. For about 70 years after the fall of that Empire, France was governed by a corrupt, unstable Republic which was beholden (in alternating elections) to the traditional aristocracy and plutocratic classes, respectively. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

So, it worked out pretty well for them after all.
"


I don't know... I'm a few decades into his career certified teacher in France, who's trying to raise a daughter and paying his mortgage, and $53k is still twice what I earn.
posted by nicolin at 6:21 AM on May 14, 2015


Under the 5th amendment, of course, we'd have to pay them fair market value for anything seized, so it's not clear how that would do any good.

I don't know if it would be possible, or legal, but I do know that it would be right. Anyway, we get around this with civil asset forfeiture all the time (not that we should be able to do that), and I have no doubt that a prosecutor could, by the preponderance of evidence standard, show some sort of connection between just about any hedge fund manager and the laundering of dirty money of some sort.
posted by dis_integration at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2015


it's not just that you have to spend so much of your own money, it's that if you imply that you are not overjoyed to be doing this you are seen as a "problem"

If we stopped romanticizing children as "the future" and "blessings" and started viewing them as the dangerous small animals they are, this would stop being an issue and teachers could start getting treated at least as well as zookeepers.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, as others have pointed out, that 53K is an *average*. Here's North Carolina's (.pdf) pay scale for teachers. For a bachelors, you don't top 40K until year 10; 50k until year 25. If you have a master's degree, you don't top 40K until year 5; 50K in year 20. And adjustments to the pay grade aren't keeping up with inflation-- there was just an adjustment recently, but I believe the pay is still behind what it was in 2004 or so in real dollars.

And yes, cost of living is lower in many parts of the state (and teachers in wealthier areas can and do get pay on top of this), but let's say you have kids you want to send to college. UNC Chapel Hill is relatively cheap-- 25K a year for in state-- but that's difficult to save up for if you're a single parent, or have a spouse that has a lower salary than you do. And, in fact, all of the people I knew at UNC who were children of educators were on significant financial aid and had loans.

Remarkably, many of them decided to follow their parents and become educators and stay in state, but recently, I've seen a lot of them either move out of state or at least seriously think about it because the pay is so awful there.
posted by damayanti at 6:24 AM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sure, JPD, but what does this putative hedge fund manager actually do

They do anything else that someone who works in a business that doesn't create assets does. I mean in a sense nothing they do is any less tangible then what a teacher does.

The fundamental issue isn't necessarily what they do, its how much they get paid for it. If they were paid .25% of the assets they manage instead of 2% and 20% of the returns the egregiousness of the comp would be much much smaller.

Not to mention most of the guys on those lists built and run businesses that employ 100's of people, nearly all of them in non-investing jobs.
posted by JPD at 6:29 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean in a sense nothing they do is any less tangible then what a teacher does.

Um.

I mean, I know I'm despicable pinko anti-capitalist lefty socialist unrepresentative swill, and I'm seriously all ok and fine with that, but a job that basically amounts to throwing other people's money at a wall and hoping some of it bounces back isn't even worth .25% of nothing at all ever goddamn.

It's not like anyone ever became a great author, actor, athlete, scientist, mathematician, architect, because of an inspirational hedge fund manager.

OutrageFilter? Boy have I got OutrageFilter. These people should be boiled in urine.

posted by prismatic7 at 7:11 AM on May 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


teachers could start getting treated at least as well as zookeepers.

Zookeepers are probably paid worse. There's a lot of supply for that role since a lot of people want to work with animals.
posted by jpe at 7:14 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


isn't even worth .25% of nothing at all ever goddamn.

The people paying the fee disagree.
posted by jpe at 7:15 AM on May 14, 2015


The people paying the fee disagree.

The people paying the fee are next on my list. They will merely be poached in urine and then kicked in the head until the shouting stops.

However, I am going to go to bed before the Great Unhinging unveils itself from the corpse of yr. humble crspndt, one prismatic7 (the '7' is fully voiced, not silent).

Goodnight, MeFites.
posted by prismatic7 at 7:22 AM on May 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Under the 5th amendment, of course, we'd have to pay them fair market value for anything seized, so it's not clear how that would do any good.

Well, that's no problem, just plant an ounce of weed in their megayacht.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Zookeepers are probably paid worse.

But they probably don't have to buy fodder with their own money.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:38 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


They're still paid less, even accounting for supply purchases.
posted by jpe at 7:42 AM on May 14, 2015


I'm the son of a retired elementary school teacher, and the husband of a current high school math teacher, and I'm a civil servant myself. You can support a family on these salaries, but there's not always the comfortable buffer to take care of unexpected significant expenses.

Some people yammer on about the benefits of these public jobs being job security, and that's the right to pay people less, because with risk comes reward, right? Except education is the foundation of society. So by paying teachers a bare minimum, you're not making the job market competitive for schools. Qualified math and science teachers are almost universally in demand, so you have some schools that have to make do with whoever comes along, and the students suffer. The future of the community suffers.

The story of countries where teachers are paid on par with doctors may be a myth, and there's no way we'll see "superstar teachers" being paid millions of dollars a year to compete with the 25 top hedge fund managers, but making teaching competitive with other fields that demand similar levels of education could get more people who were thinking about teaching to actually apply, instead of taking something they might like less that pays better.

And pay school districts enough to provide adequate supplies for the full year! My wife faced the same issue of supply shortages that others mention, except so far she has been lucky enough that paper usually lasts most of the way through the year, and we haven't had to make too many runs to Staples to print tests. But she does ask for whiteboard markers for Christmas.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:51 AM on May 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Take all their money from them, sell off their property.

jpe: Under the 5th amendment, of course, we'd have to pay them fair market value for anything seized, so it's not clear how that would do any good.


No problem. Under the 16th Amendment they can be taxed at any rate. Currently it is only 15%, less than the school teacher. In the past it was 90%.

The hard part is getting there. Since they make hundreds of millions per year, spending a few tens of millions to buy a few senators is just the cost of doing business. Just the existence of their outsized incomes creates a corruption of government.
posted by JackFlash at 8:34 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that at least part of the problem - maybe even most of the problem - is that teaching is considered women's work. One, it's assumed that women are just naturally good at teaching and nurturing, and willing to work for "a calling" and warm fuzzies. Two, the outdated assumption that a woman teacher is not the main or sole breadwinner for her family - teachers are assumed to have husbands who are the main breadwinners. Three, pre-second-wave feminism, college-educated women were funneled into the caring professions - teaching, social work, nursing - and were something of a captive labor pool with few other options.

Most people now at least pay lip service to the idea that women are breadwinners, but I think the idea that women can and will find a breadwinner spouse, and that women as a group are willing to work at low pay for The Cause or A Calling, is still prevalent. And even now, women make up the majority of K-12 teachers. Low teacher salaries, poor job conditions, and lack of respect are a women's issue.

Meanwhile, only 10% of mutual fund managers and 3% of hedge fund managers are women.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:45 AM on May 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


Under the 16th Amendment they can be taxed at any rate

Their income can be; their wealth can't.
posted by jpe at 8:47 AM on May 14, 2015


I don't know... I'm a few decades into his career certified teacher in France, who's trying to raise a daughter and paying his mortgage, and $53k is still twice what I earn.

While I agree that teacher salaries are also far too low in France, it's not possible to compare numbers like that. In France we have socialized healthcare, teachers get housing assistance (they don't often in the States), reliable public transportation, and very cheap higher education. Meaning, in order to get your certification as a French public school teacher, I'm betting you didn't have to go into tens of thousands of euros of debt. US teachers do.

So you need to keep in mind, that in addition to your costs in France, American teachers are also paying:
- their own student loans
- health insurance, medical visits, pharmaceuticals
- transportation
- housing at market prices, not subsidized

I'm not counting costs of purchasing necessities for students, because my French teacher friends do the same, though it does (anecdotally) seem to happen to a much lesser extent than in the US. There's no centralized, well-publicized reminder of which supplies to get for kids in the States like their is in France.

And at 26-27K in euros, believe it or not, you're above both the median and average household incomes for France. I realize it's low, because I lived on similar, alone, for a bit and was counting pennies, but it is better than many...
posted by fraula at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Their income can be; their wealth can't.

We're talking about billions in income. They wouldn't have the wealth without the untaxed income.
posted by JackFlash at 8:51 AM on May 14, 2015


They've already got the wealth. At any rate, we both know tax rates won't go up materially anytime soon.
posted by jpe at 8:56 AM on May 14, 2015


Under the 16th Amendment they can be taxed at any rate

Their income can be; their wealth can't.


Estate and gift taxes target wealth accumulation. Taxes on interest and dividends target wealth accumulation. Taxes on real property target wealth accumulation. There are a myriad of ways we could move toward fixing this situation through use of the state's taxing power. Eliminating the preferential rate for capital gains is a necessary first step. The taxation of carried interest can't really be changed absent a complete overhaul of partnership taxation (which would be ok IMO), but eliminating the capital gains rate differential achieves the same goal.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:19 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Any law can be changed, including taxation laws. Wealth is very unlikely to be taxed in this or perhaps any non-Terror kind of legal environment, but to say "can't" like it's a natural law is overreaching.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:33 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


but to say "can't" like it's a natural law

There are thousands of people employed (Fox news, think tanks, reporters, libertarians, bought academics) whose life's work essentially boils down to convincing the unwashed masses that it is a natural law. It's not a surprise that some people believe it.

The other pernicious myth is that because some rich people will always escape taxes, tax reform is useless. No shit it's an evolutionary arms race between taxation and evasion, but having the tax system roll over and play dead isn't a very good strategy if you want a functional democracy.
posted by benzenedream at 12:28 PM on May 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm going to make the world's most unpopular argument here and ask: is $53k really underpaid?

With the amount of "money" floating around in the world? Yes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:22 PM on May 20, 2015


Anything less than 75k/yr means most people struggle to make ends meet. I'd put that as the bar for most peoples' "enough".
posted by bonehead at 8:09 AM on May 21, 2015


« Older “It's about this little girl who finds a little...   |   "Every surgeon carries within himself a small... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments