Thursday, May 10, 2012

New teacher and Bowdoin graduate pay comparison

Given our curiosity (which puts us in a very small class) about teachers contracts and school budgets, we found this recent news item of interest, and thought you might as well.  It’s from the Bowdoin Orient, the student newspaper at the local college.

Pay for seniors slightly above national average

According to a recent Orient survey, the average starting salary for graduating seniors who have found employment was  $42,339. This figure is slightly above the national average for recent graduates of $41,701, as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

In other words, for the Bowdoin seniors cited, their starting pay will be $814 a week.

A quick look at the contracted pay schedule for Brunswick teachers in the school year now ending shows that a BA holder with 0 years experience would have begun the year with a salary of $32,930, including a $2,000 “beginning teacher adjustment.”  If our figures are correct, teachers beginning their careers in the coming school year will earn $33,447.

Teachers contracts call for 182 or so workdays per school year.  For comparative purposes, we usually equate this to about 39 work weeks compared to year-round 52 week jobs.

$33,447 divided by 39 yields $857 a week in equivalent pay in our view, or 5% more than the Bowdoin seniors cited above.

We’re told repeatedly that ‘teachers are underpaid,’ to which our standard reply is that some are underpaid, and some are overpaid.  This results from union contract structures that homogenize all teachers into a faceless, impersonal group.

At the same time, we know that Bowdoin is crème-de-la-crème in the highly selective, prestigious small college ranks.

Putting the two data points together would appear to call into question the prevailing wisdom about poor teacher pay.  And we doubt that the average Bowdoin senior will take a job with 17 days sick leave and a guaranteed salary advance mechanism regardless of merit or performance.

Now you know part of the story, at least.  And since we have so far been unable to obtain a new contract, it will have to stay that way.


  1. Apples and oranges. You forgot that over 90% of health insurance and over 90% of a very lucrtive pension is afforded to Brunswick teachers which inflates their $33,000 annual salary to $56,000 (34% of base for the retirement annuity and $12,000 for H.E.)Unbelievable but true.

    Besides, the school department severerely restricts who and how often anyone gets on this gravy train.

  2. Good insights; it should be clear that I was talking about salary, not benefits.