Teachers’ summer jobs are essential

One of the myths that refuses to die is that teachers spend the entire summer relaxing (“ ‘It’s the Only Way.’ These teachers Are Working Summer Jobs to Make Ends Meet,” Money, Jul. 12).  But teachers are 30 percent more likely to have second jobs than non-teachers.  And summer is particularly when they try to make ends meet.

I realize that the cost of living varies enormously across the nation.  Yet $59,660, which is the average salary earned by the 3.1 million public school teachers during the 2016-17 school year, isn’t very much.  In Los Angeles, for example, housing takes a huge bit out of monthly income, with a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Santa Monica typically going for $2,800.

It’s not unusual for teachers to hold second jobs during the regular academic year, as well as during the summer.  In Texas, 31 percent did so during the academic year.  I remember being taken aback as a child when I saw one of my teachers working as a bartender.  Today, they’re more likely to be Uber drivers.

Moonlighting for teachers is not new, but the percentage of teachers doing so is unprecedented.  It’s little wonder that the best and the brightest college graduates shun teaching as a career.  They may teach for a few years before moving on, but few make it a lifelong commitment.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)





5 Replies to “Teachers’ summer jobs are essential”

  1. Agree with your points. Also, I believe that many of the more junior teachers who are not working a second job during the summer are instead taking college courses that they need to obtain/maintain their teaching certification and/or to qualify for a higher column on the salary scale — not relaxing in the backyard. And, another large percentage of the teachers who are not working a second job during the summer are married teachers with school-age or younger children who are handling childcare rather than working the second job — that is, teachers who are, in effect, doing unpaid childcare work during the summer (since they come out ahead doing the childcare themselves rather than taking a paid summer job, paying income taxes on their summer earnings and then paying someone else a salary to watch their children during the summer months.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Labor Lawyer: Critics persist in citing the time off during the summer as evidence that teachers are actually overpaid. But salaries simply do not allow teachers to make ends meet in many cases. In any case, if teachers are in fact overpaid, then why don’t far more college grads make teaching a career? Supply and demand are supposed to work in teaching as well. But it doesn’t seem that way, judging from the evidence.


  3. I am disappointed to see you use $59,660 as the average salary of 3.1 million teachers. Are there only 3.1 million teachers in the country? If not, what states did you use? If you are going to use statistics, make sure you clarify where your numbers are coming from.
    It takes a teacher in Florida almost 30 years to make $59,660. In one county it takes 7 years to get your first raise.
    Teachers would not have to work a second job if they got paid for all the extra hours they work after school – including weekends. We could call them “billable hours”.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers did not have to pay for:
    1. Supplies
    2. Courses for their advanced degrees
    3. Their professional development
    We have lost a whole generation of teachers.


    1. mathcoach2: The figure I used came from the National Center for Education Statistics, which I believe is accurate. Remember that this is the average salary. States vary widely in teacher pay. For example, teachers in Indiana earn on average $50,715, while teachers in California earn on average $72,842.


  4. You have to break down the numbers if you are going to use an “AVERAGE” salary.
    One of the key parts of “AVERAGE” is how you calculate the average. If you are using the maximum salaries, then you have to state how many years it takes to get to your maximum. In one district it might be 30 years and another may be 12 years.
    I understand where you got your number, but it has to be broken down to make it relevant.


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