Social Justice and Teacher Pay

As I have studied the principles of Catholic Social Justice, I am confused at this issue. Partially because I am in the middle. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I think some of it comes from the school formally employing nuns as teachers. But, I don’t know. Any thoughts?:confused:

My personal opinion is that teachers should have one of the highest pay grades (but very strict regulations on who can teach).

Teachers are responsible for a very large part of our future, and should be treated as such.

I work in a Catholic school and I think I have the best job in the world.

And yes, I made a lot more money at my last job.

Here is where the social justice comes in: we live in a free society, where we can take any job we wish, or leave any job we wish.

Social justice finds its greatest expression in a free economy.

IMHO

[quote="crm114, post:3, topic:181647"]
I work in a Catholic school and I think I have the best job in the world.

And yes, I made a lot more money at my last job.

Here is where the social justice comes in: we live in a free society, where we can take any job we wish, or leave any job we wish.

Social justice finds its greatest expression in a free economy.

IMHO

[/quote]

and with teachers, like most things, you get what you pay for. The best thing about teaching at a Catholic school (I've found) is that you generally have less of the total BS to deal with like breaking up fights, having chairs thrown at you, called every name you can imagine, spit on, punched, had thing stolen, etc.

I agree with Tnystrom, that Catholic teachers are under paid, and disagree with Luternteach, because from my experience 6 year for me and 12 years for my son, we got more than be paid for. Outstanding dedicated teachers who focused on the basic's, demanded performance and truly cared.
Cost per student, private schools operate on so much less but produce significantly greater test results. Many of the teachers I knew had 15-20 years at the same school. They could have taken higher paying opportunities, but stayed. I think the environment within the private school systems, provides a job satisfaction level that, for some teachers, exceeds the value of their income. Job happiness and satisfaction, once found is almost invaluable. And I think the opportunity to increase pay for the teachers is to get the Senate and Congress to approve "vouchers" so parents can spend their tax money at the school of their choice. While paying private tuition for 12 years for my son, I still paid the public school tax. So while I paid twice, many families cannot do so, but would happily enroll in a private school if it was their choice. And with those extra funds, I would hope some of that would go to increasing the salary of teachers.

Hi tynstrom,

Thank you for teaching in a Catholic school.

It cost my mother a total of $46.00 to enroll three children in Catholic grade school back in 1964. My teachers were either nuns or priests. It was their vocation and they had taken a vow of poverty. They did not have families to support. The nuns actually lived in a convent that was attached to the school.

Now the Catholic schools must pay lay people to teach. Unlike the public schools, the Catholic schools do not receive tax money. Your salary is paid by the parents of the students and the parishoners. The pool of money is much more limited and must be spread to X number of teachers.

I agree with you that you are valuable and I think all teachers should be paid higher salaries. I don't know what the answer is to getting higher pay for Catholic school teachers. If you raise the tuition too high then most parents won't be able to send their children. One poster mentioned vouchers so parents could choose to send their children to private school. Talk of vouchers has been around since I was in grade school.

God bless you for your vocation as a school teacher.

[quote="tnystrom, post:1, topic:181647"]
As I have studied the principles of Catholic Social Justice, I am confused at this issue. Partially because I am in the middle. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I think some of it comes from the school formally employing nuns as teachers. But, I don't know. Any thoughts?:confused:

[/quote]

Define "abysmally low." On what do you base the assertion that you are not compensated for your work?

Let's quantify things.

According to government statistics (see below, last data I could find is from 2004), Catholic schools are competitive among all private schools and I wouldn't describe any of these salaries as "abysmally low."

nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/affil_2004_23.asp

In my town, the teachers at the Catholic school make 85% of what the public school teachers make. Unfortunately, our public school district pays its teachers less than anywhere else in the diocese, so 85% of that ain't much. Our school also functions by tithe rather than tuition for parish members. I am astonished that they are able to keep the school going, and very thankful.

It reminds me of the debate over cheap child care. Please! What is more important than our children? People who care for them and educate them deserve to be well-paid.

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:181647"]
According to government statistics (see below, last data I could find is from 2004), Catholic schools are competitive among all private schools and I wouldn't describe any of these salaries as "abysmally low."

nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/affil_2004_23.asp

[/quote]

Thanks for the stats, I didn't know that these exist. I will agree that the salaries are not abysmally low by the standard of the minimum wage. However, I imagine there has to be huge geographic variability in these numbers. So in some areas, teaching salaries may well be abysmally low.

[quote="stinkcat_14, post:10, topic:181647"]
I imagine there has to be huge geographic variability in these numbers. So in some areas, teaching salaries may well be abysmally low.

[/quote]

That is why I asked the OP to define "abysmally low."

The OP does not give any details of location, pay amount, or other variables such as number of days in the contract, hours worked, public school pay in the same area, etc. Therefore, I do not believe we can really talk about this in any meaningful way.

If catholic schools paid teachers the median regional salary, 2/3 of them would have to close inside of 6 months. The money simply isn't there. It's really nice to say "teachers have a huge role, they should get top pay." But like every other utopian "oughtta be" statement, reality bites hard. There's no magic sugar daddy to make it happen.

As a catholic school parent, I get enraged every time my property tax bill comes around and I shell out another $5,000 to the local public school district. This utterly corrupt body (U46 in Illinois) spends somewhere in the ballpark of $12,000 per student per year and gets consistently poor test results. And no wonder when they cram 30 students per class, teachers have no real disciplinary powers, and waste humungous resources on non-mission critical agendas and politically connected staff and consultants.

In spite of the fact that EVERYBODY would win if public school districts awarded private school parents with a (say) $1,000 refund for each student at the end of the year, nobody will do it. They'd have MORE money per remaining student to squander as they see fit, but still won't do it (private school enrollment would grow enormously under such a program). That says to me that they care more about power and control than getting Americans educated to the highest degree possible.

In my area, an average public 6th grade teacher makes around $65,000 a year (before extra income from coaching, summer school, etc). If my catholic school paid their teachers that I simply couldn't afford it, my tuition would go up by at least 65%. We already drive old cars that I keep together with bailing wire and duct tape and not a few prayers, what more do you WANT from me??

Want someone to be angry with? Send your ire straight at the NEA. They want you (private schools/teachers) exterminated and are doing their best to do so.

Wow. Your teachers get a lot. I helped put paychecks in envelopes to mail last month, and I didn't see a monthly check higher than $1800. That seems about right, because starting salary for a public school teacher with a bachelor's degree here is $27k. I suppose this would be why we survive, though just barely, on tithes. It makes my head spin when I hear how high the tuition is in a lot of places. I'm the rural midwest, and I guess the cost and standard of living are just way lower here.

[quote="tnystrom, post:1, topic:181647"]
As I have studied the principles of Catholic Social Justice, I am confused at this issue. Partially because I am in the middle. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I think some of it comes from the school formally employing nuns as teachers. But, I don't know. Any thoughts?:confused:

[/quote]

It is a justice issue, but unfortunately is also an economic one. Catholic and probably other parochial teachers ARE underpaid, in comparison to those in public schools, people with similar education, skills and experience, and for what they are asked to do. I know many Catholic school teachers (and ex-teachers); one who was a full time teacher AND the vice principal of the school was paid much less than a comparable teacher and less than half what the vice principal in a public school was paid. Two jobs (and dual responsibility) for the salary of less than either one! That is not just.

But other posters have made legitimate statements about what is affordable for the parish and the parents. What are parents and parishes willing to pay to give their children a good education in a Catholic school? What is fair, reasonable and just?

To dismiss the OP with the statement that one can choose to go somewhere else and earn more is disingenuous. Many of those teachers (including the one mentioned above) are devoted to teaching in a Catholic setting and struggle to make it financially. It is as much a sacrifice for them as it is for some of the families of the children.

My sad prediction is that this issue will never be decided in a favorable way for all parties and Catholic grade schools will eventually disappear, except in wealthier parishes and communities.

My next door neighbor and his son are both teachers. When the son started at a public school teaching the same subject his father taught and being one of many athletic coaches when he father was head football coach, the son was making about $10k more than the father. His wife also had a good job, so that when the father retired, the son was able to move into his job and they could still afford to send their own kids to Catholic schools.

I graduated from college in 1991, and a first year teacher in our school district was making $26,000. I was a benefits analyst at a very large bank, making just under $20,000. Later, as an underwriter for mortgages, I saw teachers' salaries that were indeed abysmally small. It really depends on where you are.

The figures from that study are averages. Some people make a lot more and some make a lot less. Where I live, that salary will let one person live pleasantly, as long as there are no big expenses, like a car payment or a mortgage. Or a vacation. $30k to $40k in today's world is not much money.

Someone mentioned 30 kids being too many for a class. I was in grade school in the 50s and 60s, and we hit 50 on our class several times over those 9 years, usually hovering around 38 to 40. There were more nuns available to teach, but no more classrooms. By the time I started kindergarten in 1956, they'd taken space from the library to make 4 classrooms and from the cafeteria to make 3.

[quote="tnystrom, post:1, topic:181647"]
. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I

[/quote]

because CAtholics do not place a high value on Catholic education and because Catholics do not tithe to support it. Catholics do not place a high value on Catholic education and they do not tithe because the bishops do not demand it.

[quote="daeve, post:15, topic:181647"]
Someone mentioned 30 kids being too many for a class. I was in grade school in the 50s and 60s, and we hit 50 on our class several times over those 9 years, usually hovering around 38 to 40... .

[/quote]

Apples and oranges. 30 public school kids in urban district today with public school pitiful disciplinary tools is going to be a MUCH bigger handful than 45 kids in a catholic school with real disciplinary options, especially if the public district holds to the PC philosophy that you must not separate the poor performing students from the high performers lest you make them have poor self esteem....

Do I sound angry? :mad:

[quote="tnystrom, post:1, topic:181647"]
As I have studied the principles of Catholic Social Justice, I am confused at this issue. Partially because I am in the middle. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I think some of it comes from the school formally employing nuns as teachers. But, I don't know. Any thoughts?:confused:

[/quote]

Now you know why Catholic schools (particularly at the elementary level) is a nightmare for pastors!

Yes, there used to be Teaching Orders that would do the work of lay teachers in Catholic Schools. That has changed now as these orders diminished and some have even disbanded due to lack of vocations. The sisters would receive a small stipend for their work but they would have to turn this in to their Order. As more and more lay people filled the gap of teaching orders in Catholic schools, the parishes either had a choice of closing the schools because they could not pay lay teachers a just wage, or, they had to rely on the goodness of their parishoners to subsidize a teacher's salary.

Parishes that have schools can pay their teachers, but it is in no way equal to what a public school teacher can make. Rich parishes can pay their teachers more. Poor parishes rely on subsidies from their diocese plus whatever the parishoners can afford.

I used to teach in Catholic schools and it is indeed a sacrifice for the teachers. They give their all and monetarily are not compensated in what they are worth. Running a parish school or even high school is no small matter when it comes to keeping the cash flow going.

[quote="peary1, post:18, topic:181647"]
Now you know why Catholic schools (particularly at the elementary level) is a nightmare for pastors!

Yes, there used to be Teaching Orders that would do the work of lay teachers in Catholic Schools. That has changed now as these orders diminished and some have even disbanded due to lack of vocations. The sisters would receive a small stipend for their work but they would have to turn this in to their Order. As more and more lay people filled the gap of teaching orders in Catholic schools, the parishes either had a choice of closing the schools because they could not pay lay teachers a just wage, or, they had to rely on the goodness of their parishoners to subsidize a teacher's salary.

Parishes that have schools can pay their teachers, but it is in no way equal to what a public school teacher can make. Rich parishes can pay their teachers more. Poor parishes rely on subsidies from their diocese plus whatever the parishoners can afford.

I used to teach in Catholic schools and it is indeed a sacrifice for the teachers. They give their all and monetarily are not compensated in what they are worth. Running a parish school or even high school is no small matter when it comes to keeping the cash flow going.

[/quote]

First, as a mom of four who had four kids - k - 12 in Catholic Schools - *THANK YOU Catholic school teachers for your sacrifice! *

I work for a Catholic non-profit and make a fraction of what secular non-profit directors make - but I consider that I also have the opportunity to live my faith ---- BUT I also agree it is a justice issue to pay employees appropriate wages.

"Wherever your treasure, your heart it will be!" ---- My husband and I made many sacrifices to send our kids to Catholic Schools - I do agree that we need to hear more from the leadership of the Church that educating our children needs to be a priority - thanks for the reminder! I think that next months gift check will go to our children's grammar school - maybe those of us who have already put our kids through school could try to remember this and keep these schools as giving priorities, even though we are long done writing those tuition checks!

[quote="tnystrom, post:1, topic:181647"]
As I have studied the principles of Catholic Social Justice, I am confused at this issue. Partially because I am in the middle. I am a Catholic School teacher. If we are valuable and should be compensated for our work, why are CSTs paid such abyssmally low salaries?

I think some of it comes from the school formally employing nuns as teachers. But, I don't know. Any thoughts?:confused:

[/quote]

Tnystrom, Nearly all Catholic employments are considered as voluntary assignments and subject to the expectation of charitable contribution. If you are wanting to be paid more for teaching Church faith Doctrines, the best way to obtain that is through prayer. The public educational system does not want to pay based on performance so why would the Church? I was a public educator most of my life and salaries were negotiated by a union. You may want to bring your concern to the parish council who could advise the parish Priest. Donations to the Church usually dictate salaries so you could also try to find a "wealthy" parish who receives huge donations which could result in greater pay. Working in a "poor" parish will necessarily reduce your pay.

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