Chicago teachers make more than the national average

September 12, 2012

Chicago school teachers make a median salary of $71,017. That's a whole lot more than the city's median household income (which can include multiple salaries for households with more than one earner) of $46,877, and greater still than its median per capita income of $27,148. But how does it compare to other urban school districts?

The National Council on Teacher Quality has an excellent database on teacher compensation in large school districts and compared Chicago Public Schools' compensation for teachers of each education and experience level to the average of the nation's largest 50 school districts. Each step of the way, CPS teachers earn more.


Source: National Council on Teacher Quality

But that includes a bunch of smaller school districts in areas with lower costs of living, as well as rich suburbs (like Montgomery County, Md. and Fairfax County, Va.) that skew the average upward. What happens when we compare minimum and maximum salaries in Chicago to a smaller number of major cities?

Chicago has a higher starting salary than any of these cities, even higher than New York despite that city's greater cost of living. The only school district in NCTQ's sample with a higher starting salary is Long Beach, Calif. That said, a number of school districts — to whit New York, Long Beach, Baltimore, Montgomery, Fairfax and Prince William County, Va. (another wealthy D.C. suburb) — have higher top salaries than Chicago. The number of teachers who receive this salary is small, as it only applies to highly experienced teachers with doctorates, but Chicago is closer to the norm there.

Again, this says nothing about the propriety of Chicago's pay schedule. Maybe they're paying teachers adequately and most other school districts are shirking them. Maybe it could use to raise its maximum pay to New York levels to attract highly educated teachers. But in any case, Chicago teachers make significantly more than average, no matter their education or experience level.

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Ezra Klein · September 12, 2012