The high salaries of teachers in Boston, where nearly 3,000 people earn six-figure salaries, reflect the strength of their union and suggest a district plagued by ‘chronic underperformance’ could be more adult-focused who run it only on the children it serves, say the watchdogs.
A Herald analysis of payroll data found that 2,905 teachers earn more than $100,000 a year, compared to Boston’s average per capita income of $44,690 in 2019, the most recent year for which the US Census Office has statistics.
Those teachers were earning six figures in a city where 18.9% of the population – about 121,000 of 642,000 people – live below the poverty line, compared to a national average of 12.3%.
David Tuerck, president of the Beacon Hill Institute, which develops economic and statistical models for policy analysis, thinks Boston public school teachers are overpaid “because of the strength of teachers’ unions in Massachusetts.”
Neither Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Union, nor a BPS spokeswoman returned calls seeking comment.
“Teaching is a demanding and vitally important vocation in our society, and educators should be well compensated,” said Jamie Gass, director of education policy and research at the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank.
“The problem is, when BPS teachers have inordinately high salaries and golden pensions, while the district is defined by chronic underperformance, it’s more like a massive employment system designed to profit to adults than to an organization focused on educating schoolchildren,” he continued. .
Exam schools dominate the top four schools with teachers earning $100,000 or more.
Boston Latin School has 104, Boston Latin Academy 77, and John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science 71. Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which is not an exam school, has the second most large number of six-figure employees. : 88.
Thirty-nine Boston public schools had 25 or more teachers earning more than $100,000, and 128 schools had one or more teachers earning that amount.
“A hundred thousand is a lot,” said Edith Green, whose 15-year-old son attends Fenway High School. “Two parents don’t even bring that. And they say they have to pay teachers high salaries in part because of the high cost of housing in the Boston area? Well, we also have to pay for housing in Boston, but with less than half the money teachers earn.
The Boston school board spent part of its meeting last week in a strategic closed-door session to prepare for salary negotiations with the BTU.
As of Feb. 25, the average public school teacher salary in Boston was $68,466, according to salary.com, but the range is generally between $59,766 and $79,057. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on several factors, he noted, including education, certifications, additional skills and the number of years in the profession.
Sharon Hinton, founder and executive director of Black Teachers Matter and former BPS teacher, said $100,000 is a lot of money.
“But you don’t know how long the teacher has been there or all the things he does after school, like lesson plans, grading papers, talking to parents or dealing with something that would have could have happened that day,” Hinton said.
And that could include matters of life and death, Hinton said, like the ninth-grader who was killed in 2015 devastating her classroom.
Or, in 2013, a double homicide that left two bodies in the middle of the street just in time for students to see them as they boarded their buses.
She recalled her own experience with a girl who acted out in class because, Hinton took the time to find out, her cousin had just been murdered.
“Everyday you could be a Big Sister, you could be a counselor, you could be a surrogate parent, in addition to being a teacher. So if they get paid $100,000 a year, God bless them “, she said. “We teach everyone but we still don’t get the respect we deserve, the kind of respect that teachers get in other countries.