Archives for category: Compensation

Cross-posted on Yahoo:

  • For this year, the district abandoned its normal textbook-review process and adopted the new engageny math modules sight-unseen. (engageny)
  • Engageny math is still being written; the district is downloading units as they’re posted to the web.
  • The Engageny “modules” have not been field-tested. Irvington teachers and children are first adopters &, thus, are serving as test subjects.
  • Kids in higher grades (3rd & 4th) have gaps in their math knowledge because engageny & Math Trailblazers don’t match, but no one in the school can identify the children’s gaps, and no one has a plan to remedy the gaps.
  • The district has never had a “scope and sequence” of knowledge and skills students learn in each grade, so administrators don’t know what the kids know — and they have no simple means of comparing engageny math to the math that children have been learning here.
  • It was clear last Thursday night that administrators can’t fix the problem. None of them is expert in math; they don’t know what a proper sequence of math instruction is. Nor should they: no one can know everything about every subject. Normally “pedagogical content knowledge” (what to teach & when & how) is “purchased” when we adopt the best math textbook series we can find.
  • The solution, for now, is to drop engageny (or delay its adoption) and replace it either with the old Trailblazers books or with an ’emergency adoption’ of Saxon Math, the single most teacher-friendly math textbook on the market. (Here’s the homeschool edition.) UPDATE 11/9/2013: Or, better yet, we should do an emergency adoption of Singapore Math. Engageny math is, to some degree, modeled on Singapore Math, but Singapore Math has been field-tested and revised over many years’ time, and its Scope and Sequence can be understood by administrators, teachers, and parents alike.
  • Any teacher (& any parent) can pick up a Saxon Math textbook and teach math today. I know this because I chose Saxon when I realized I needed to re-teach my son 4th grade math. I hadn’t taken a math course since college, and I successfully used Saxon immediately to teach my son and re-teach myself.
  • An emergency adoption of Saxon would mean that this year serves as the pilot of Saxon; next fall the district could pilot Singapore Math (& perhaps engageny math, if we have good word on engageny from other districts).
  • Other children, in other districts, should serve as test subjects for engageny math, not ours.
  • For the time being, we can’t worry about the new Common Core tests. We have Trailblazers kids in a Common Core world; that’s the reality. (If we had Singapore Math kids — real Singapore Math, not Dobbs Ferry Singapore Math — in a Common Core world, things would be different. But we don’t.) The state requires kids to take the tests, and that’s fine: we should treat the results as information about gaps and proceed from there.
  • We have $2.16 million dollars in the fund balance to use for ’emergencies’; this should be seen as an emergency. Once kids develop gaps in math, it is very difficult for them to catch up to peers who have had a coherent math education. Our family knows this from direct personal experience.

Irvington Parents Forum at Yahoo
IUFSD Factoids

click image to enlarge

3 employees with some but not all salaries

Data used in chart

What’s important to notice here is that Irvington teacher wages, which will increase at an average rate of 4% a year for the next 4 years, are likely to pull away from taxpayer wages.

NOTE: In the chart above, I have assumed the following percent increase in wages each year:

  • 4% for Irvington teachers
  • 1.1% for  state and local government employees
  • 1.9% for private sector employees

If that assumption holds true, the gap between the blue line on top and the green and red lines down below will grow wider.

Average teacher compensation IUFSD

Wages & Salaries: Private Industry Workers (FRED)
Wages & Salaries: State and Local Govt (FRED)

4 is not 2

(click on images to enlarge)

Quick note for people who feel they’re not good at math: These graphs show the percent change in people’s wages from the year before.

The figure 7.5%, on the left side of both graphs, means that in 2006 the “average” Irvington teacher received a 7.5% increase in salary over what he or she earned in 2005. That same year, the “average” employee of state and local government received a pay increase of 2.8%, while the “average” private sector employee received an increase of 2.5%.

To make things simple (I tutor pre-algebra – !):

Suppose it’s 2005, and we have three workers: a teacher in Irvington, a person working in the private sector, and another person working for state and/or local government.

Let’s say that each worker earns $100,000 for that year’s labor.

Here’s how things change the next year, 2006:

  • Irvington teacher now earns: $107,500.
  • State and local government worker now earns: $102,800
  • Private sector worker now earns: $102,500

The year after that (2007), here’s the situation:

  • Irvington teacher now earns: 115,562.50
  • State and local government worker now earns: $106,706.40
  • Private sector worker now earns: $106,087.50

After just two years, the Irvington teacher is pulling decisively ahead of both the private sector and the government employee – and this difference continues to compound over time.

The gap gets wider.


Arguably, the two graphs above tell our story.

First of all, by way of background, until very recently no one knew what the average teacher compensation actually was. Proposed budgets were extremely difficult to decipher, and the district flatly refused to tell voters – or the one board member who asked – what the average teacher was being paid. Contracts had to be FOILed, and the salary schedule was not published.

Average teacher salary was the one figure many people needed in order to make sense of the situation. Most of us aren’t accountants, and the arithmetic of percent increases and compounding over time isn’t intuitive.

All of that said, here is the story I think these charts tell:

  1. Prior to the crash, the district was paying salary increases to teachers that were in all likelihood far above the salary increases many or most Irvington taxpayers were receiving.
  2. After the crash, in a depressed economy, the district is still paying salary increases at least double what workers in the private sector are receiving (assuming they still have jobs) and nearly 4 times as large as the increases government workers are receiving (again, assuming the government worker still has a job).
  3. Irvington voters may have failed to notice just how large the district’s annual pay increases were in part because the annual increase in home value was even higher. We were in the midst of a boom, and (almost) everyone was getting richer. The financial reality of district budgets failed to register on voters (and the details of the budget were obfuscated by the administration).
  4. The crash changed everything. Home prices are now far below the level they were when voters were funding 7.5% wage increases and voting ‘yes’ on bonds.
  5. For their part, although Irvington teachers are still receiving annual raises double that of most taxpayers’ annual raises, they also, between 2008 and 2009, suffered a far steeper drop in their annual wage increase than private or government workers: from 7.5 to 4.5 on the day the 2006-2009 contract expired. Their increase decreased more. That matters greatly. People make financial decisions on the basis of projected future income, and suddenly, virtually overnight, teachers’ projected future income changed dramatically.
  6. Thus teachers feel they have made unprecedented concessions during negotiations for the new contract, while taxpayers feel they can’t afford to fund 4% pay increases when they themselves aren’t receiving anything close to 4% pay increases and the value of their homes has tanked.

Both are right.

Wages & Salaries: Private Industry Workers (FRED)
Wages & Salaries: State and Local Govt (FRED)

4 is not 2

Average pension for new retirees: 2011
Compare and contrast: IBM raises & benefits

Hamilton Project Jobs Gap Calculator