In May 2008, I asked thirteen Arizona physics and chemistry teachers who are in our ASU Master of Natural Science degree program to answer four questions regarding their finances and a win-win vision for business support. Nine teachers replied. Below are their replies.

 

In sum: Their salaries are low, medical benefits for their dependents are costly, raises are meager and require much time and cost to get, and ways of supplementing their income dont make use of their teaching skills.  All are committed to excellent classroom instruction.

 

The best action that businesses can take is long-term adoption of teachers. In 2006, Robert Blackford, a physics teacher who worked in industry for two decades, submitted a proposal for this to Governor Napolitano's Committee for Teacher Quality and Support. I can provide that upon request; and he would like to present on it. Also, I can provide supportive surveys of Arizona teachers on their desired professional development, and detailed statements by numerous teachers.

 

A partial solution to the low wage problem is expressed in a 2008 proposal by ASU Profs. Colleen Megowan and David Hestenes to Science Foundation Arizona for after-school science/math/engineering clubs, in which high school teachers could compete for $5000 grants to pay supplementary wages. It wasnt funded, unfortunately; but should be pursued in the future.

 

Cheers,

Jane Jackson, Modeling Instruction Program, Dept. of Physics, ASU

Jane.Jackson@asu.edu   480-965-8438

 

 

Date: Tue, 20 May 2008

Male physics and math teacher, has taught for one year

 

I am a high school mathematics and physics

teacher at [a metro Phoenix] High School.  My base salary is just under $31,000

per year, and I have not supplemented that with any type of coaching

position or part-time job.  Coming into my first year of teaching, my

primary goal was to keep my head above water in the classroom and teaching

side of things.  With the ten graduate credits I hope to earn at Arizona

State University this summer, plus two additional credits for classes I took

on the United States and Arizona Constitutions and Governments, I will move

over one step on my school's pay scale and make an extra $900 next

year.  Earning a master's degree has always been a goal of mine, and I cannot pass up the

opportunity to earn one in physics at a well-respected institution like

Arizona State University.  Right now I have taken out a student loan that I

may be paying off for years to come.  Despite the financial burden this may

cause me, I am determined to continue my education and make myself a better

teacher for the students of my High School..  Thank you very much.

            ----------------------------

 

Date: Mon, 19 May 2008

Female chemistry, physics, and physical science teacher, has taught for two years.

1.  My salary is: $35,708

2.  The cost of benefits for any dependents for me is currently zero 

because I have none (thankfully, because it is very expensive - - I 

believe I've heard they deduct about $300 per paycheck per dependent).

3.  Before I can advance on the pay scale I need 36 credit hours, and 

I will make $2,000 more per year.  If I do nothing, I stay at my 

current salary for three years, and then I could receive an increase 

of less than three-thousand dollars in my 4th year with the 

district.  This is only good for up to 12 years; after that you are 

paid a capped salary until you earn a Master's degree.

4.  To supplement my salary during the school year, I coach for my 

high school (which is about an additional $100 per paycheck) and I do 

research for ASU.  During the summer, I get a night job.

 

I hope I have been helpful.  If a business supported my efforts to 

continue my education, I would frequent that business and advertise 

for them through word of mouth to all my students, parents, 

colleagues, friends and family.

            --------------------------

 

Date: Wed, 21 May 2008

Female chemistry and physics teacher, has taught for four years

 

> 1. Your basic teaching salary.

I currently make about 38k a year. I have a degree in chemical engineering

-  I should be making at least double that. This almost kept me out of

teaching. But some things are more important than money.

 

> 2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents.

I don't have any dependents. I use the Mesa District's EPO health care plan through united health.

 

> 3. HOw many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance  on

> the pay scale.  Also, the dollar amount of that advance.

My district requires a master's degree or 45 grad credits for a (roughly) $3500 salary increase.

 

> 4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?

I coached ac-dec. I won't be coaching the team next year but I will be

starting on career ladder. I WOULD take a part time job to help supplement

my income but between work and trying to finish my master's I just don't have the time.

 

> 5. Optional: a paragraph for me to read to them, on why you want a

> business to contribute. What could you give that business back, in return?.

I'm reaching the end of my fourth year teaching science and my second

teaching physics.  In those last two years, I've doubled the population of

students registering for the general physics class at my school. I've

poured enormous effort into improving the program. The reason I've been

able to do this is because of what I've learned through the modeling

program at ASU both in terms of knowledge and superior teaching practices.

It is by far the best science methodology out there. Unlike traditional

science classroom practices, the modeling program stresses the PROCESS of

science. Students not only learn the requisite science curriculum but how

to design and implement experiments that will address a question, how to

work well in a community of peers, how to collect and process data, how to

think logically and critically - basically, how to be effective problem

solvers. Not only do these skills serve to help knowledge retention and

increase general interest in science but these are skills that transcend

the science classroom.

 

I would like to be able to overhaul the advanced physics program at my

school in a manner similar to what I've done with general physics. My

district requires that I have an advanced degree in order to teach these

courses. It is very difficult for me and others like me to find the

resources necessary to do this.  We greatly appreciate any and all help

that can be given. Thank you.

            ---------------------

 

This male physics teacher has taught for five years

Date: Mon, 19 May 2008

 

My current salary is $40,000.

I have a degree in physics, a law degree (that does not count on the salary schedule) a teaching credential (that required about 30 credits and does not count on the salary schedule) and I am 1/3 of the way to my masters.

2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents. I cannot afford district benefits for my wife and children as they would be $5000 per year, so my wife gets them for $2,700 per year from her employer. If her employment changed, so would our benefits.

3. HOw many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance ;on the pay scale. Also, the dollar amount of that advance.

 To move over on our salary scale requires 12 credits at an ASU cost of about $350 each. However, the column that I would have moved to for next year was consolidated with another column, so I need 18 credits this year to move over. When I do finally move over, I will receive about a $1000 raise.

4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?

I am supplementing my salary by announcing the basketball games ($15 per game) and taking care of a pool at a rental property that another teacher is managing with his real estate license ($80 per month minus the cost of the chemicals).  Otherwise, I am too busy taking classes during the summer to do another part-time job.

            ---------------------

 

5/20/08, male physics and biology teacher, has taught for five years.

 

>1. Your basic teaching salary.

>Next year will be making 39,022 in basic salary.

>

>2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents.

>Dependants get benefits through my wife's employment

>

>3. HOw many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance  on the

>pay scale.  Also, the dollar amount of that advance.

>I get my first increase at 30 grad credits and another at 60 grad credits

>

>4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?

>Take part time jobs when I can find ones that pay well.  Work during the summer.

 

From: Jane Jackson

Sent: Tue 5/20/2008

When you get an increase on the salary scale, roughly HOW MUCH will you get?

About $2200 for each increase

 

If you paid benefits for your dependents through your school, roughly how much would it cost, per year?

I'm not 100% sure, but I know it is expensive.  It's something like $500-600 a month

 

Are you working at a job this summer, in addition to taking your courses? If so, doing what?

I am not working this summer because of my course load.

            ---------------------------

 

Date: Wed, 21 May 2008

Female chemistry and physics teacher, has taught for six years.

Second career – she was formerly a chemical engineer

 

> 1. Your basic teaching salary.

$39,000

>

> 2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents.

I pay $13/2 weeks for the "silver" medical plan. Dental is free. I declined vision and extra life insurance.

The district contributes 9.6% for state retirement, 7.6% for social security, and about $3650 for health/dental/life insurance for each employee.

 

> 3. HOw many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance on the

> pay scale. Also, the dollar amount of that advance.

15 credit hours per lane, 2.5% increase in base salary

>

> 4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?

I help supervise the alt. ed. program and supervise InSchoolSuspension during my prep hour about twice a month.

 

> 5. Optional: a paragraph for me to read to them, on why you want a business

> to contribute. What could you give that business back, in return?.

Arizona ranks near the bottom in teacher salaries. The only way we can increase our pay is lane advancement but paying for that is very difficult given our base salaries. As a single person, my salary isn't sufficient so I can afford to live in the community in which I teach -- rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is more than 1/2 my monthly salary! And forget about owning my own home there. Therefore, I must commute and with gas prices climbing, driving expenses are starting to hurt! I seriously want to increase my effectiveness in the classroom by deepening my content knowledge. However, the cost of ASU courses continues to climb making them very difficult for me to afford without some type of scholarship or grant money.

            -----------------------

 

Date: Mon, 19 May 2008

Math teacher whose degree is in physics education, has taught for ten years.

 

> MNS degree teachers in AZ:

> On Wednesday, I'm going to a Technology Council committee meeting, to

> solicit business funds to pay part of your summer ASU tuition.

> Please help me give them data to support this, by replying and telling me:

>

> 1. Your basic teaching salary. $40K

>

> 2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents. Around $7000 a year

>

> 3. HOw many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance  on

> the pay scale.  Also, the dollar amount of that advance. 45 credits = $4500

>

> 4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?  Coach

softball during the fall and do webpage and photo business throughout the year

>

> 5. Optional: a paragraph for me to read to them, on why you want a

> business to contribute. What could you give that business back, in return?.

 

Regardless of the business, we can provide better students for your

workforce as good thinkers linking concepts in an abstract manner.  As they

make those connections from one task to another (rather than separate

tasks), productivity increases.

 

I have some great prints that would look wonderful on your business wall :)

            ----------------

 

Date: Wed, 21 May 2008

Female chemistry teacher, has taught for ten years.

 

1. Your basic teaching salary.

$43000.00 per year

 

2. The cost of benefits for you and your dependents.

$500.00 per pay period ($1000 per month)

 

3. How many grad credits your district requires, for you to advance on the

pay scale.  Also, the dollar amount of that advance.

$50.00 per year per credit hour earned

 

4. How do you supplement your basic salary? coach? part-time job?

class coverage and work security at games on campus

            ----------------------

 

Date: Wed, 21 May 2008

Male physics and math teacher in rural Arizona

 

1.  $41,000 (I have been in education 20 years)

 

2.  I'm guessing at my benefits (I do not have my paperwork with me) 

but with taxes and insurance taken out of my check, my take home 

paycheck is approximately 2/3 of the total.

 

3.  My district requires 12 hours for an education advancement.  The 

pay increase for this (which is the same for a yearly step increase)  is $818.

 

4.  To supplement my income my wife also works, and I have coached, 

done curriculum development and tutored.  Keep in mind that coaching 

takes almost all of my weekends (for overnight trips) for the sports 

season I coach for, curriculum development over the summer pays less 

than $1000, and tutoring pays even less.

 

5.  I have loved teaching, however over the years the burden of 

teaching has increased incredibly.  I find it hard to believe that 

young people still enter the teaching profession with today's burdens 

on teachers and the current salaries.  Keeping up professionally is a 

requirement of all teachers, but there is little help for a teacher to 

do this, and usually the teacher must find their own time and funds.   

Any help is welcome and greatly appreciated.  It is important -- for 

good education -- for teachers to stay current and continue their 

development (as it is in the business world), so any help is good for 

our children and ultimately our society.  That is the return, although 

somewhat intangible.  More concretely, I would welcome a partnership 

with business, particularly with individual classes.  I do projects 

with students, and a partnership with a business to assist (with free 

advertisement!) would be great.