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Simple Salary Math

ERS' work with Boston Public Schools mentioned

Read the editorial as it origninally appeared in the Boston Herald

The Boston Teachers Union is casting doubt on a recent study that suggests Hub teachers are paid far in excess of their peers in other cities, arguing the cities used for comparison aren’t representative. BTU president Richard Stutman also questioned the source of the study’s funding.

Well, hey, when you can’t argue with the raw numbers, why not simply confuse matters by questioning the motives, the methodology and the math!

The study, compiled by Education Resource Strategies (ERS), was commissioned by the school department as it attempts to reckon with its budget problems, and was paid for by a nonprofit that offers grants for strategic planning to school districts and other education groups. The compensation figures were one part of a larger budget analysis.

According to the ERS report the average $107,562 in salary and benefits for a teacher in Boston comes in 29 percent higher than the average in comparison cities.

But Stutman isn’t satisfied that Austin, Buffalo, Denver, Cleveland, New Haven, Syracuse or Prince George’s County, Md., are comparable to the Hub. City Councilor Tito Jackson has also jumped on the bandwagon, questioning the comparisons in part by citing Boston’s high cost of living.

ERS says it screened the comparison cities for similarities in enrollment size, percentage of students in poverty, population of special education students and English language learners, and weighted them for geography.

But somehow we don’t think that will satisfy either of these critics.

And we suspect that what Stutman and Jackson are really annoyed about is the study’s recommendation that, in the future, Boston “explore whether it can focus future wage increases on [teacher] contribution rather than experience.”

The simple truth is that Boston has made the decision to pay its teachers handsomely relative to comparable districts, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But with money tight and the vast majority of the school budget going to teacher salaries the district is now being forced to reckon with that history — particularly because it’s paying some teachers who aren’t actually teaching, and staffing levels now far exceed the demands of current enrollment.

That’s not propaganda or a “push poll,” as Stutman suggested. It’s simple math.


Simple Salary Math
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