THE BLOG
10/17/2012 02:30 pm ET | Updated Dec 17, 2012

Are Teachers Overpaid?

This is a question that is always up for debate. Of course, if you ask teachers and people in the educational world, they will say that teachers are not only NOT overpaid, they are drastically underpaid. Other people who are not directly related to the world of education would probably say that they get paid enough or too much. The common reason given for people believing that teachers are overpaid is that they do not work summers and weekends and still retain a "decent" salary.

So how does one begin to debate this all too familiar question? My wife and I recently looked into hiring a nanny to look after our four-year-old. This started my thinking about the similarities between nannies and teachers. I decided to do a comparison. Typically nannies are not responsible for the education of the child. They are more responsible for the general well-being and safety of the child, which is only one part of a teacher's job. But just for comparison purposes we will use these two groups.

At the National Center for Education Statistics, the average salary for a full time public school teacher in 2010-2011 was $56,069. The average teacher class size as of 2009 was 15 students. It also seems logical to assume that most teachers receive health insurance even though it was not stated by the National Center for Education Statistics. The average health insurance in our district is $400-$500 a month for an individual. So include an additional $6,000 on top of that salary which brings it to $62,069 including health insurance for an eight hour day, 180 days. I do realize that most teachers now work over the 180 day mandate, but this is not formal research so we will use the 180 day calendar.

There is an organization called the International Nanny Association which was very helpful in finding the following information. The national average for a babysitting (nanny) assignment is $16.00 per hour. Typically this hourly wage will fluctuate based on how many children the nanny is watching. This hourly wage seems to be based on a maximum of three children. Also according to the International Nanny Association, many full time nannies receive full health coverage or at least 50 percent coverage. So that would include an additional $3,000-$6,000 for health care.

So now let's compare. If a nanny had 15 children, based on the three children per $16 per hour formula, for eight hours a day for 180 days (which excludes summers and weekends) they would make $115,200 base salary. For this example, we will use only half health care coverage at $3,000. The nanny's annual average salary would be $118,200.

The teacher's average salary for the same 15 students for eight hours a day for 180 days is $62,069. As you can see, this is almost half of what a nanny makes. According to the statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics and the International Nanny Association, it appears to me that the teacher is far from overpaid.

Teachers wear many hats. They are the educators, the nurses, the psychologists, the confidants, and so many times the only caring parent.There is a term that every teacher learns in school, In loco parentis, which means in the place of the parent. So the next time you consider if teachers are overpaid, ask yourself if parenting was a job, how much should you be paid? As both an educator and a parent, I can say without a doubt that there is not enough money in the world to ensure that my child is safe and educated by a great teacher because for eight hours a day that teacher takes my place as the parent and I can't even begin to show my full appreciation.

You can also find other information on my web site www.furmanr.com