Teachers Forced to Moonlight, Take Second Jobs

In 1981, about 11 percent of teachers were moonlighting; the number has risen to about one in five today. Children's teachers, who have historically been paid less than other professionals, could next be seen serving you in the bar or even driving your kids to school in the morning, writes Christine Armario at the Associated Press.

The number of public school teachers who reported holding a second job outside school increased slightly from 2003-04 to 2007-08. And reports from individual states and districts show that the number may have climbed further since the start of the recession.

In Texas the percentage of teachers who moonlight has increased from 22 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2010.

"It's the economy, primarily," said Sam Sullivan, a professor at Sam Houston State University, which conducts the survey.

Rita Haecker, president of the Texas State Teachers Association, attests that cuts in education have forced many teachers to take furlough days.

"It affects their morale in the classroom," she said. "The last thing we want is our teachers worried about how they are going to pay their bills."

The average salary for a public school teacher nationwide in the 2009-10 school year was $55,350. After adjusting for inflation, it's a figure that has remained relatively flat over the last two decades.

"I think people have felt the need to supplement their teaching salaries in order to have a middle class lifestyle," said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute.

The Economic Policy Institute published a study this year concluding the average weekly pay of teachers in 2010 was about 12 percent below that of comparable workers.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development advised the United States earlier this year to work at elevating the teaching profession by raising the bar for who is selected to become a teacher and provide better training and better pay in order to improve student performance.

In many nations where students outperform the U.S. in reading, math and science, including Japan and South Korea, teachers earn more than they do in the United States.

The OECD report concluded:

"International comparisons show that in the countries with the highest performance, teachers are typically paid better relative to others, education credentials are valued more, and a higher share of educational spending is devoted to instructional services than is the case in the United States."

11 16, 2011
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