Anatomy of a bogus “Paltry Pay for CA Teachers” TV news story

Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters Richard Rider, Chairman, San Diego Tax Fighters 6 Comments

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The article below on the KNSD TV San Diego website recently was presumably presented as a major TV news story by our local NBC affiliate. It claims that CA teachers are woefully underpaid compared to educators in other states — the truth is that CA teachers are the second/third highest paid teachers of all the states. The story is based on a biased progressive source (a bias not mentioned in the story — a bias that WOULD have been mentioned if it were a CONSERVATIVE source), but — even more important — it demonstrates the remarkable inability of this reporter to even copy numbers down correctly — let alone understand what they represent — or analyze them.

This is NOT some difference of opinion — it’s bogus data wrongly presented.  OF COURSE the conclusions are wrong — the conclusions are based on the false data!

I posted a withering online comment on this folly under the article (VERY few readers) — you can read it below. I even called the station to report the gross misrepresentation of the how California teachers compare with other states.  To date, no correction has appeared — and probably no on-air correction of this bogus story appeared either.

The story asserts that California’s higher cost of living must be considered — a valid point.  So I considered it — adjusting California’s teacher salaries compared to the other 49 states (properly not counting CA or D.C.).  CA 2013-14 teacher salaries average $70,126.  Adjusting the the 49 state average for the CA COL gives us $70,788 — a small difference that certainly doesn’t justify the “paltry pay” headlined in the story.

http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/NEA-Rankings-and-Estimates-2013-2014.pdf

The lesson is simple:  Don’t accept on faith everything the press reports.  Even dry statistics.  “The media” consists of people facing deadlines — with their personal intellectual weaknesses and human bias.

I single out KNSD as an EXAMPLE, but not because they are any worse than other media outlets.  Most media are likely (if infrequent) prospects for such lapses in journalistic standards.  We all can make mistakes — but reporters have editors to correct such mistakes — that extra bulwark which is supposed to elevate the conventional media above the Wild West of the Internet.  Well, that’s what editors are PAID to do.  But then, editors are people too.

MY INTEMPERATE POSTED COMMENT:

This article is TOTAL bullsh-t! This propaganda piece falsely claims that the average California teacher is paid $51,400. But the REAL average is $68,093 (in 2010 — now average CA teacher pay is over $70,000) — second highest in the nation that year.

Think my source is suspect? It’s the NEA — the National Education Association website! That’s by far the biggest national teachers’ union:
http://www.nea.org/home/38465.htm

Top 10 Average Teacher Salaries [2010]

1. New York $69,118
2. California $68,093
3. Massachusetts $66,712
4. Connecticut $63,152
5. New Jersey $63,111
6. Maryland $62,849
7. District of Columbia $62,557
8. Illinois $61,344
9. Rhode Island $58,407
10. Alaska $58,395

This article claims that Rhode Island teachers average $78,200 — almost $20,000 higher than what they actually make ($58,407 — see above).

Sadly, this tripe will now be circulated throughout California by the media. No dissenting opinion was sought to assess this agitprop.

You can smell a rat when you read that supposedly California teachers suffer from our high cost of living, yet fewer California teachers seek a supplementary job than do teachers in other states.

Did I mention this piece is total BS?

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Report-Highlights-Paltry-Pay-for-Mid-Level-Teachers-268355022.html

KNSD 7/39

Report Highlights ‘Paltry Pay’ for Mid-Level Teachers

A report highlights what the Center for American Progress describes as paltry pay for mid-level teachers.

Teacher pay is not a new topic, but a new report by the Center for American Progress zeroes in on how little they get late in their careers.

The report outlines the average base salary in each state, the highest possible step on the salary schedule and percentage of teachers who have outside jobs.

While California has one of the higher average salaries for teachers at $51,400, the report pointed out that amount isn’t competitive when considering the high cost of living in the Golden State.

“…This salary is unsustainable in California’s major metropolitan cities. California teachers, including those at the highest step of the pay scale, have low purchasing power when it comes to feasibly affording a home in urban areas,” the report said.

Teacher salaries have long been debated. Many proponents argue that teachers should be compensated for their merit rather than tenure, with teacher unions traditionally oppose that viewpoint.

California’s salary average tops those salaries in states in the south, such as Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Mid West.

New England states, however, had higher salaries on average than California. For instance, Rhode Island’s average teacher salary is $78,200.

. . .

To read the full KNSD story, go to the URL above.

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Comments 6

  1. Post
    Author

    I’ve talked at some length with the folks at Transparent California about their onerous task (actually they are located in Nevada!). It is a DIFFICULT job compiling this information, as the too many CA governments fight tooth and nail not to reveal the full picture. For instance, as I recall, the city of San Diego doesn’t include PENSION contributions in the employee compensation they submitted. Others count part-time employees as full-time employees.

    What IS consistent is that government agencies too often UNDERSTATE (and NEVER OVERstate) the pay and benefits of public employees. Hence as high as the figures are, they are understated by some unknown magnitude.

    LESSON? GET A GOVERNMENT JOB!!!!!

  2. I downloaded the 2013 Fresno Unified salaries, what is fascinating to me is that out of 8,028 employees, 3,584 are teachers. There are a lot of administrators, etc. 2,812 teachers had over $50K in pay & benefits. Really interesting stuff! Thanks Richard.

  3. Ms. Right — Keep in mind that many school districts (and CA govts in general) under-report what they pay. See my comments above.

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