Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IL: Highest Paid High School Teachers vs. Professors

Highest paid teachers in Illinois: High School vs. College, By Discipline
Illinois High Schools
Univ. of Illinois Main Campus
English$189,219 $163,000
French$173,000 $150,000
Physics$172,100 $240,000
Math$169,700 $185,000
Theater$167,500 $102,000
Political Science$166,410 $191,000
Music$165,400 $136,000

A recent post featured the highest-paid high school teachers in Illinois.  Here's an update, with a chart above that compares the highest paid high school teachers in Illinois to their highest paid Ph.D. counterparts in the same academic field at the main campus of the University of Illinois (salary database here).

In the case of some academic disciplines like English, French, theater and music, it looks there is much greater salary potential for high school teachers with a Master's degree than for college professors with a Ph.D., at least by comparing the highest paid teachers in each system.  If I can get average or median salaries for each level of education, I'll make that comparison in the future.   


At 12/14/2010 9:00 PM, Blogger Jason K said...

189k to teach high school English??? where do I sign up???

At 12/14/2010 9:06 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

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At 12/14/2010 9:08 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

It would be interesting to find out how much of the $400 million Illinois receives this year, in fed education stimulus, goes towards teacher union salaries vs. professors wages.

BTW, Illinois faces a $13 billion budget shortfall.

At 12/14/2010 9:58 PM, Blogger Ironman said...

Illinois teacher salary data is available from the state's BOE. The 2009-10 report is here, which provides the median salary data in Table 12 by degree type, school type and size.

At 12/15/2010 12:36 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


At 12/15/2010 4:57 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Benefits can lead to more benefits, e.g. job security leads to higher pay and fringe benefits, which lead to a bigger pension.

Illinois Loop: Salaries and Pensions

"The 100 highest-paid school administrators in Illinois in 2006 had salaries ranging from $205,590 to $380,227.

When John Conyers retired in June 2003 as superintendent of the Palatine district, his salary topped $300,000.

The superintendent of New Trier will retire in 2006 on a pension of $232,500 per year.

When Paul Vallas resigned as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, he walked away with a check for $325,279.

The lowest-paid superintendent in Cook County oversees a single school in Thornton, and he gets a total compensation near $100,000.

At 12/15/2010 5:45 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Job security:

"Isn't a superintendent kind of like a corporate CEO, and so should be paid highly?"

"Superintendents do not operate in a competitive environment. They do not establish new markets for anything. They do not have to employ...any strategy at all, to win or hold market share...superintendents' 'markets' are pretty much handed to them on a platter by the state."

At 12/15/2010 5:49 AM, Blogger rjs said...

a question you fail to ask is how much are you willing to invest in human capital that would prepare us all, not just the top 1%, to be productive participants in a 21st century global economy?

At 12/15/2010 5:58 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

RJS, the question should be is it wise to spend $2 in inputs to get $1 of output?

At 12/15/2010 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What metric are you using to measure outputs? You probably mean outcome, which is much different and more relevant than output.

At 12/15/2010 7:50 AM, Blogger JimVAT said...

Does this include benefits?

At 12/15/2010 9:45 AM, Blogger aorod said...

I don't see Drivers Ed teacher...they're good for about $150,000...

At 12/15/2010 9:56 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, a competitive market would be cheaper (e.g. reduce waste) and achieve better results (e.g. actual learning).

At 12/15/2010 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ironman's link shows bachelor's degrees in the $20,000 to $30,000 range; master's degrees in the $30,000 to $50,000 range and master's + degrees in the $40,000 to $60,000 range for the 25% to 75% percentiles.

I don't see a problem with teachers making that type of money, and I see that as a more accurate analysis than picking the top 100 outliers to make an analysis. It sure won't sell ads though.

Someone might want to look at moving some of the money from the top earners to the bottom earners. I doubt huge savings can be found by cutting wages, so I would look at what can be done to cut pension and OPEB costs.

PeakTrader, maybe. It seems like people want to say how much is spent on education is a determinate of educational outcomes when it suits them and then turn around and say how much is spent on education does not determine outcomes. Do you think educational achievement can be measured using a $$$ and outcome standardized testing ratio metric?

At 12/15/2010 10:41 AM, Blogger mike k said...

Walt G. I believe those were starting salaries. In my district (155) Avg. teacher salary is 91,573 and avg admin salary is 148,163 plus bennies for 2010 according to Il State Report Card.

At 12/15/2010 10:44 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, the question should be are public high school teachers overpaid?

Poor education results in more costs for remedial classes and less value to society through work, etc.

Education is an investment, which has future benefits or costs.

At 12/15/2010 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mike k, that is correct (without longevity pay). But if you count longevity pay, you would also have to subtract the accompanying cost to train a replacement from that in most cases (which can run as high as one-year's salary per most HR departments). Just like a divorce—it might be cheaper to keep her.

Peak Trader,

Are you discussing educational costs or educational attainment separately or trying to link them together? Many of these teacher salary discussions are union bashing in disguise, so it is often difficult to know what the discussion is really about. "Overpaid" compared to exactly what?

At 12/15/2010 11:19 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, overpaid compared to what a competitive market can achieve.

Some teachers are overpaid and some underpaid. Is that fair?

At 12/15/2010 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some teachers are overpaid and some underpaid. Is that fair?"

I don't know if it is fair, but I believe you will always have a top and a bottom whether it is a CEO, a baseball player, or a teacher. It seems as if it would be a cost transfer and not a cost savings if you fix that problem. Do the salary ranges I posted from the actual data earlier seem out of line for the middle 50%?

At 12/15/2010 12:05 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

This may help explain high teacher pay:

Teacher Quality, Teacher Pay

"Highly paid teachers earn their salaries not because they are exceptional educators or have tackled tough assignments but because they have accumulated seniority in wealthy school systems where pay is based on longevity. Providing raises in such a system is enormously expensive because so much of the spending is soaked up by the undeserving."

At 12/15/2010 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


So you are saying the total costs are not of line, but the income distribution is wrong. In that case, the high salaries are fine if they are the best teachers. How do you know the top 100 teachers in pay are not the top 100 teachers in quality? It's highly probable that a teacher who has more experience is a better teacher than someone who has less experience. Would you prefer a heart surgeon who was performing his first few heart surgeries or a heart surgeon who has performed hundreds of heart surgeries?

At 12/15/2010 12:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Could the teachers be worth their pay?

Illinois third in nation for new teachers attaining national ranking

Maybe and maybe not...

Consider the following: NeighborhoodScout’s® Top 100 Worst Performing Public Schools in the U.S.

Illinois has a dozen schools on this list...

At 12/15/2010 3:38 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, it seems, total costs are higher than in the private sector, particularly based on performance (or as you say "outcomes") and total compensation.

We don't know if the top 100 teachers in pay are the top 100 teachers in quality, because their compensation is based on senority instead of performance.

If I needed a heart surgeon, I would want the best one, regardless of experience.

Patients may be better off when a heart surgeon with years of killing too many people becomes a hospital adminstrator instead.

Anyway, what's the motivation to turn experience into quality when compensation is based on senority instead of performance?

At 12/15/2010 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Would the ex-surgeon who is now an administrator because he killed too many people be rating how good the current heart surgeons are now? Would a pretty female heart surgeon who goes out with him get a better rating than a man who does not?

I know experience and quality are not always one and the same, but we do tend to value that criterion rather highly over others. I felt comfortable having a delicate ear surgery performed by a surgeon who is widely published in the field, has numerous patents for surgery tools he invented, performed over a thousand ear surgeries of my type on a weekly basis, and is a partner in a private ear institute over my local ear, nose, and throat doctor who does that same surgery once every year or so.

I guess we really don't know when that experience/quality correlation finishes its upward curve and starts down the backside, do we? How many Brett Favre surgeons and teachers do you suppose we have?

I agree with legitimate performance testing in all fields as long as the performance does not have to be done under a desk and the boss' son does not get special treatment. I think the best motivation is self motivation.

At 12/15/2010 5:28 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Would a pretty female heart surgeon who goes out with him get a better rating than a man who does not?"


Besides not being relevant to the discussion, you seem to be projecting your own low ethical standards onto hypothetical others.

"...as long as the performance does not have to be done under a desk..."

But, isn't this the type of thing you are advocating when you say you make friends of those who you believe can help further your interests? Why shouldn't others try to make friends also?

At 12/15/2010 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron H.

The bosses hitting on women/men in the workforce and trying to get "loans" from their workers when they miss a day of work is fairly common.

Don't mistake having relationships with those in power as friendships because they are not. It's more of a mutual using each other to get ahead. It happens every day, too. I am advocating nothing except the existence of that reality. Do whatever you want with it.

At 12/15/2010 7:52 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, I have two types of dental insurance. I use the PPO to see the dentist who is rated high by publications, who happened to graduate from a top school for more complicated work (e.g. root canals and crowns), and use the HMO to see the dentist for less complicated work (e.g. fillings and cleaning).

It seems, they both have well over 10 years experience. The PPO dentist works four days a week and takes lots of vacations, while the HMO dentist works more, it seems, because her patients are generally poorer and sees more patients.

I noticed the PPO dentist is more efficient performing his work (i.e. he completes the work in a "expert way" within an hour, and I must say I didn't know he did a root canal one time when he did :)).

So, there isn't necessarily a strong correlation between experience and quality.

At 12/15/2010 8:39 PM, Blogger www.pointsandfigures.com said...

The public high school salary is actually much higher than you cite. The reason being is they have a defined benefit pension program. It's proper to amortize in the amount they will receive in pension over the time they are working-and add it to their salary to get the full benefit.

They have no risk on their pension payout, because it's defined benefit.

At 12/15/2010 9:10 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Anyway, I suspect, if dentists were in a system similar to public school teachers, a top dentist would be paid much less than an average dentist just because of accumulated seniority, or even worse because of politics, like Ross Perot and GM:

"Perot notoriously lashed out at Smith in a 1988 exclusive to Fortune Magazine, saying: "My question is: Why haven't we unleashed their potential? The answer is: the General Motors system. It's like a blanket of fog that keeps these people from doing what they know needs to be done. I come from an environment where, if you see a snake, you kill it.

At GM, if you see a snake, the first thing you do is go hire a consultant on snakes. Then you get a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years. The most likely course of action is—nothing.

You figure, the snake hasn't bitten anybody yet, so you just let him crawl around on the factory floor. We need to build an environment where the first guy who sees the snake kills it."

At 12/16/2010 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Is the dentist who is highly rated less experienced as measured by time as a practicing dentist? How many first-year dentists are highly rated by that system?

Jeffrey R. Carter, one of the reasons for benefits other than wages is to promise someone something in the future to give up something in the present. Using that rationale, the workers paid for those benefits by choosing to forgo wages over their working years for future value. The only other way to think about it is to not consider benefits as part of the total employment compensation package when determining present value. Those benefits have to have a positive net value at some point in time to be counted.

I think what happened with deferred compensation is promises were made by people who would not be around when it is time to keep those promises. The real blame lies in not taxing those benefits either when they are earned or when they are redeemed because that provides an incentive to both the workers and employers to bargain deferred compensation over current wages. All compensation should be paid in the present because present values provide less risk for everyone than future values (much easier to quantify). Additionally, all compensation should be paid in wages, and the employees should purchase their own benefits in the open market (maybe the union and company can solicit bids and discounts for their employees).


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