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Teachers' Jobs Aren't Easier Than Others'

October 27, 1985

Edward G. Lowell claims that low salaries for teachers are acceptable because of their short work year and high benefits (Teachers' Jobs Aren't as Tough as Others," Letters, Oct. 13). As both a school board member of a local school district and a supervisor at a major computer system company, I am qualified to compare teaching and industrial employment.

An entry-level teacher in my school district--after a year of college beyond a bachelor's degree and after a year of on-the-job training as a student teacher--will earn a starting salary of less than $18,000 per year for 182 work days. An entry-level computer analyst in my company--after only a bachelor's degree (no post-graduate studies) and no on-the-job experience at all--might earn a starting salary of more than $26,000 for 240 work days. The computer analyst will earn 44% more than the teacher for only 32% more work days; the computer analyst earns almost 10% more per work day than the teacher.

Both the teacher and the computer analyst have health insurance and retirement benefits paid by the employer. The computer analyst also has employer-paid life insurance, something not available to the teacher. Overall, the computer analyst and the teacher each have fringe benefits proportional to their salaries--which is greater for the computer analyst.

It is true that the teacher has two consecutive months' leave from work each year during which he or she might take a temporary job to supplement his or her salary. However, there are very few temporary jobs available that are appropriate for someone with a teacher's education, training and experience. In any case, what a teacher does in the classroom is far too important for our nation's future for us to expect that teacher to take a second job just to earn a fair income.

The disparity between the salaries of teachers and computer analysts has already created a shortfall in the supply of science and mathematics teachers in our public schools. In other subject areas and careers, the disparities might be less, but they also exist. The title on Harry Bernstein's column to which Lowell responded ("Teachers' Salaries Rising but Still Fall Short," Labor, Sept. 11) is correct. With the salaries, the supply will also fall short.

DAVID E. ROSS

Agoura

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