Saturday, April 16, 2016

Are Pasadena Unified Teacher Salaries Out Of Line With The Communities They Serve?

Forehead sticker = dignity.
Yesterday I got some gruff guff from certain unhappy folks over my comparison of PUSD teacher total compensation numbers and the median resident income figures of Sierra Madre. I thought it was a fair, if numerically inexact, comparison of two admittedly disparate parties. However, apparently for certain individuals that was a bad thing for me to do. Here is how a marginally heated exchange over this statistical heresy went on the Pasadena Politics site yesterday. This between a gent named Glenn Mitchell and the noted mid-valley social critic Eric Maundry.


I guess what concerned Glenn here is that if you compare teacher total compensation numbers and median Sierra Madre resident income, it makes things look less favorable for those claims of educator impoverishment being made by the United Teachers of Pasadena. Adding benefits such as health care and retirement to base teacher salaries, and then comparing that to just the median income of mostly private sector folks in a community served by the PUSD, didn't cut it in his eyes.

Of course, the assumption Glenn makes is that privately employed residents have things such as premium health benefit packages and CalPERS-style retirement accounts, and I was deliberately leaving those inconvenient facts out of the mix. Trust me, a lot of people do not have those things.

So anyhow, lets say I disagree. After all, PUSD total compensation all comes out of the very same pockets. As such it is all taxpayer funded income, no matter what bucket you happen to stick it in.

As you know, statistically average income is the sum of all records divided by the number of them, while median income is the exact middle if these records were to be put into a numerical order. I thought that is worth mentioning.

All of that said, I have generously decided to play along. This is how the conversation could have gone down had I originally played it by Glenn Mitchell's rules. First, here is PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald's assessment of what the typical senior Pasadena Unified teacher is pulling down, and why a teacher strike would be unjustified. It is taken from an article posted on the Pasadena Now website (link):

McDonald added, “A majority (58 percent) of our teachers earn an average of $107,233 in total compensation, including salary, district-paid health care benefits, and district-paid retirement contributions. The annual salary of these senior teachers is $85,450, the average district cost per teacher for health care is $12,614, and the district-paid retirement contribution for that salary level is $9,169.

The figure we will be using here today is that $85,450 annual (not average as Glenn assumed) senior teacher salary number cited by McDonald. We are subtracting the $12,614 average health care and $9,169 retirement figures from the mix as requested.

Next up is the somewhat questionable claim of economic hardship and potential displacement made by a group of UTP teachers employed at the Sierra Madre Elementary School. This is taken from their recent letter to Pasadena Now (link).

We find it demeaning and disheartening to continue to protest for this salary increase that will enable us to live in a community that we work in. Without this raise, many of us will have to relocate to communities that are more affordable, and ones that support and value their teachers.

What these demeaned and disheartened Sierra Madre Elementary teachers apparently want you to believe is that if they do not get the salary increase they are demanding, they will be forced to quit their jobs here and move to another city. Presumably a place where they will be paid wages commensurate with their housing requirements. The assumption is that you, the targeted audience of this notice of grievance, will be shocked at so terrible a potential loss to the community.

Per the very useful Transparent California site, here is what publicly and privately employed Sierra Madre residents, people who are not necessarily UTP/PUSD teachers, are making these days (link).


Lots of interesting information to be found there. But for our purposes today the number we need to note is that $78,594 "median earnings for full-time year-round private workers" statistic, and then compare it to that $85,450 annual (not average) PUSD senior teacher salary figure cited by Superintendent McDonald.

Which means the claims certain teachers from Sierra Madre Elementary School are making about being economically squeezed out of their Sierra Madre homes might not necessarily be true. If private sector workers can somehow keep body and soul together here on median earnings of $78,594.00 a year, those aggrieved educators should be able to hold on with their $85,450.00 salaries.

Right? I think so.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

47 comments:

  1. If I understand correctly those figures you quote include 2 weeks off in December, 1 week off in April and 10+ weeks off for summer? Full medical for life and a pension after 30 years? Annualize that pay, include the medical and pension along with job security and you are getting a deal.

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    1. Those are facts that get buried whenever teachers are fighting for more pay, but facts that need to be remembered by those being asked to dole out the dough. I looked up Laura Palmer's salary for the last three years, and it jumped from $58,000 to $63,000 to $68,000. This sort of pay raise in the private sector is unheard of. My girlfriend hasn't received a pay increase in the last five years and the boss quit dispensing bonuses four years ago. I hate unions and I'm beginning to hate the teachers they represent.

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    2. So 6:42: You whine that your gf didn't get raise, but you hate unions that did get raises for their members. Can we conclude that you like you enjoy being stepped on by the private sector ownership class?

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  2. That's a good point 6:22, has the hours the teachers actually work get factored in here? When they get the summer off, their hourly rate for when they do work based upon their total compensation goes through the roof.

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    1. Preparing, grading, calling parents, lunch hour given over to make-up tests, after school hours given over to make-up tests, developing new teaching strategies, etc...none of this is on the clock...factor that in and teachers come up really short on the pay scale...

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  3. I would like to give a test to the teachers. Have them answer the questions: Do they favor teacher tenure? Another question would be that if there ever have to be layoff's, do they favor layoffs based upon seniority or based upon merit? In other words, in the event of layoffs, should the best teachers stay or the ones who have taught for the longest. The answer to those questions tells me whether or not the kids come first or the money comes first.

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    1. Ask the same question of the police departments, fire departments, hospitals, etc.

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    2. If it wasn't for government employees there wouldn't even be a government!

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  4. Where is theb line drawn on this issue? Should Beverly Hills teachers make enough to live in that community? Palos Verdes? I sure hope not for the sake of the taxpayers.

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    1. Basing teacher salaries on the real estate market is an interesting concept. Do they get salary cuts when the housing market goes south?

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    2. Housing prices would go way up if we got out of the PUSD.

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    3. Consider who would be the buyers.

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    4. That's right 7:41. It's a good thing that you're there for the Beverly Hills and Palos Verdes taxpayers. Why should teachers and other public servants get what is better spent at Cartier, Vutton, and the local Bentley dealership.

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    5. 7:41 here, 5:44. You sound like a hardcore Obama lover. Let me tell you something... The residents of Palos Verdes and Beverly Hills didn't acquire property there by getting an undergrad degree and taking a job that only requires 9 months of commitment per year. Greater sacrifices had to be made and it's for that same reason that it's ridiculous to ever pay a teacher enough to be able to afford to buy in those communities, period.

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    6. Another point of contention I have with your statement is referring to these people as "public servants". A public servant volunteers their time doling out meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving on a volunteer basis. The "public servants" today are operating on a self serving level with an outrageous sense of entitlement. They need to accept the fact that all of their plea bargaining, protesting, and striking comes at a price. That price is resentment and disrespect from those such as myself.

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  5. If you think teachers have it great, look at the administrators. Cars, vacations, and little oversight, sign me up. "Public" unions don't help the public.

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  6. To be a little more accurate in comparisons I think we are missing another statistic . Take the educational lever of each person you are comparing and show what degrees they have attained. ALSO, note the age of the person when they acquired there degree. This will be giving you some interesting statistics to be factored in for a more total picture. When comparing numbers and facts this information is best displayed on a database or a spreadsheet. By putting as much of this information up to be reviewed you will be getting further away from what the YES on the Sierra Madre UUT group did. You would not want to be put in that same group of people I'm sure.

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    1. I kinda, sorta get what 9:07 is trying to say, but I don't think 9:07 has a clue what the outcome would be, which is: public sector employees are better educated than private sector employees. So if if you believe (the canard) that public sector employees make more than private sector employees, maybe they should.

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    2. please, draw me a picture

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    3. Maybe more educated, probably not better.

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    4. Sierra Madre City Hall is filled with geniuses.

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    5. 5:57 - What does the sticker on your head say?

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    6. I've worked by private sector and public sector, and I can say that the public sector employees work harder with less resources.

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    7. 5:57 You are actually missing the point, so it seems.

      The key is to compare private and public sector people with the same educational requirements. Someone, like a teacher or firefighter who does not need a doctorate degree should not compare themselves to what a doctor is earning. They should be compared to private sector employees who also can enter their profession with a bachelor.

      Sierra Madre has a relatively high percentage of people who have masters, doctorate and professional degrees, many with much higher educational requirements than those of a teacher.

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    8. 5:57: Are you kidding? Public sector employees more educated than private sector??? Not sure what country or planet you're referring to...

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    9. It's true. Look at Bruce Inman.

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    10. It is true that, on average, public sector employees are better educated. This has partly to do with the fact that the private sector employs a large number of untrained people to pick strawberries, serve food, clean cars etc. This brings the average of the private sector down.

      That's why one can only compare apples with apples, and not a strawberry picker with a teacher. They have to have the same educational requirements. And there it is quite clear that state and local government employees of California are much better paid than their private sector and even federal government equivalents.



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  7. There is a general issue here.It is not just Teachers.It is ALL government employees.
    Neither is our situation in Sierra Madre unique.
    The Wall Street Journal today page A9 describes a similar situation in Stanton - Orange County.
    Hopefully the "No more UUT" people from all over the country can use their resources to collectively stop the Ponzi scheme that Public Sector employment has become.

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  8. Government unions are killing California.

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    1. Yeah, unions are killing California's economy if you consider being the 8th LARGEST economy in the WORLD to be akin to death.

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    2. Cute. Have you looked at how many people have left the formerly Golden State?

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    3. http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/how-a-great-american-migration-to-california-reversed-itself/

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    4. Well, it looks like we didn't need them to propel California into 8th place worldwide.

      Don't forget, too, that it was the union workers of the 20th Century that created the middle class and made the U.S. economy #1.

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  9. Here is the real problem. Please help us. Lets deal with this and we wont need to be asking for a raise, OK ? Again, please help with this problem.

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/pension-fund-ate-california-13528.html

    CalPERS has also steered billions of dollars into politically connected firms. And it has ventured into “socially responsible” investment strategies, making bad bets that have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Such dubious practices have piled up a crushing amount of pension debt, which California residents—and their children—will somehow have to repay.

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  10. http://www.city-journal.org/html/pension-fund-ate-california-13528.html

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  11. It's not the people, it's upper management in unions and government that are causing pensions to be insolvent, thus needing pay raises. I can see how touchy a subject this is as it's always nice to wake up in the morning. Gee'sh don't blame all this on the poor worker.

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    1. Forgive them 12:41. Private sector mid-level manager types, who spend much of their careers kicking down and kissing up, tend to see public sector employees as beneath them.

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    2. some of those poor workers are evil, self serving hypocrites. right, bigfoot?

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    3. 6:04 - Gotta lotta hate, eh?

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  12. For all of you who don't like public employees, unions, and union employees, I have some suggestions that will help you take a stand, once and for all.

    If you own a business: Do not sell anything to or otherwise take even a dime from union members, and do not purchase anything from businesses that do or that employ union members.

    If you work for someone else or a business, demand that your employer does the above. If your employer refuses, quit and start your own business that refuses all economic relationships with union members.

    Get rid of all products you have that were produced or have components that were produced by union members. In case it is not obvious, do not buy any new products that were produced by union members.

    Do not accept any government services provided by union members. E.g. Do not renew your driver license or auto registration. Place your children in private schools. No building permits please.

    Do not use the electrical grid, water services, communications services, police/fire, roads/highways, etc. If you must cheat and use the highways, ignore all road signs and traffic signals. Be sure to cut off all union members you see on the road.

    Do not say "hello," "have a nice day," or "isn't this weather great" to union members. If a family member belongs to a union, dismiss him or her from your life, even if you have to move out of the basement.

    Remember, you must purge the union member from all aspects of your life.

    Please take a stand now!

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  13. People are already taking a stand, or I should say, they are taking a run.

    https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/great-california-exodus-closer-look-5853.html

    "A third factor is state and local governments’ constant fiscal instability, which sends at least two discouraging messages to businesses and individuals. One is that they cannot count on state and local governments to provide essential services—much less, tax breaks or other incentives. Second, chronically out-of-balance budgets can be seen as tax hikes waiting to happen."


    Be careful what you wish for, you maybe getting it.

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  14. City Journal is published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which is funded by ultra-conservatives such as the John M. Olin Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, etc. No bias there.

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  15. What specifically is incorrect in this specific article?

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  16. NYT and WashingtonPost made similar observations.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/15/upshot/the-california-exodus.html?_r=0

    http://knowmore.washingtonpost.com/2015/04/01/how-a-great-american-migration-to-california-reversed-itself/

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  17. Just because the data shows that more people are leaving than coming to CA doesn't mean that reasons given by an ultra-conservative "think" tank are correct.

    People leave because it's cheaper to live elsewhere; i.e. they don't have the ability to earn enough to pay for the lifestyle they want. Those who stay, do have the ability.

    Conservatives would have you believe it's high taxes, corporate regulations, and litigation (remember tort reform?) that make CA uncompetitive.

    But there's that pesky and objective fact that CA has the 8th largest economy in the world. Rationale business people should and do rush here to take advantage of that fact.

    Take tort reform propounded by conservatives as an example. Conservative "think" tanks would have you believe that corporations are being sued out of existence by frivolous tort claims that clog the courts and cost consumers and tax payers money. Their evidence is typically the anecdotal, seeming high jury verdict (the nearly inevitable subsequent reduction of which receives scant if any reporting.)

    The lay person can't check the facts because courts don't always report the types of cases filed, at least not in an accessible manner. But some do.

    Check the Orange County Superior Court website and search cases by a range of filing dates, say a month or several months. What types of cases do you see? If you listen to conservative "think" tanks, you'd expect to see mostly tort lawsuits against businesses.

    The reality, however, is that such cases are barely a blip. Far more if not most court resources are taken up with business contract disputes (i.e. business people not honoring their agreements), business collection actions (i.e. credit card companies collecting that 28% interest), unlawful detainer actions (i.e. wealthy owners throwing out the poor), and auto accident cases (i.e. insurers not honoring their policies).

    Basically, the courts that the people fund are mostly used to help wealthy businesses and property owners with their problems. Way, way down on the list in terms of numbers of lawsuits are tort action by individuals against companies. But conservatives will never tell you that.

    Don't believe me? Then look it up. Or take the easy route and just imagine that one day, any day now, you might find just find yourself in the top one-tenth of one percent. So just swallow their propaganda; one day you will be one of them, right?

    Whatever you do, the bottom line remains: Conservative "think" tanks exist to deform the facts.

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