PENNSYLVANIA 5% of teachers earning $80,000
About half of the state's classroom teachers made at least $51,000.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Hundreds of teachers around the state now earn more than $80,000 a year, especially if they take on extra duties such as coaching or tutoring, according to a study by two news organizations.
Veteran teachers with master's degrees who also work after school as a coach or club sponsor can take home more than $100,000 a year, according to a study conducted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and television station KDKA.
Lawrence Mishel, the president of the Economic Policy Institute, doesn't think the pay is unreasonable.
"You're talking about people working more than one job even though they happen to be paid by the same employer," Mishel said. "People who are coaching three sports or spending many, many hours on a school play are really working second jobs."
According to the state Education Department, nearly 5 percent -- or 5,699 -- of the state's 118,700 full-time classroom teachers made more than $80,000 last school year, without counting extracurricular activities.
About 1.5 percent of the state's teachers -- 1,871 -- earned less than $30,000 last school year. Without considering extra income earned from activities, about half of the state's classroom teachers earned more than $51,159, according to the state Education Department.
Nationwide, teachers were paid an average of $45,771 last year, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
Districts' contracts have a "career rate," which is the top pay a teacher with a master's degree can earn for regular duties. That rate varies around the state, according to the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
In Wilkinsburg, where three-fourths of the students are low income, the career rate this school year is $65,640. In North Allegheny, where about 3 percent of the students are low income, the rate is $85,611.
The gap grows wider when teachers earn extra money for after-school duties.
The highest-paid teacher in North Allegheny, who works many hours staging and directing theater performances, earned $100,988 last school year.
The highest-paid teacher in Wilkinsburg earned $73,162 during the 2003 calendar year.
More than a third of all teachers earn money from the school district for extra work during the school year and a quarter earn extra money for work during the summer, according to a 2001 survey by the Nation Education Association.
Teachers, on average, earn an extra $1,639 during the school year and $1,859 during the summer from their districts, the NEA said.
One of the top-paid teachers in western Pennsylvania, driver's theory teacher Joseph Maize, earns $91,243 and is the top-paid teacher in Peters Township School District.
Maize is the district's athletic director, a baseball coach and an equipment manager. The 27-year veteran teaches a partial schedule because of his other jobs but works weekends, evenings and summers.
"I'm getting paid for probably about five different positions. It's almost like a person, maybe another teacher, who has a teaching job and then maybe leaves work at 3 p.m. and goes out and has a second job," Maize said.
The extra work for which teachers get paid enhances education, said Jeffrey Mirel, professor of education and history at the University of Michigan.
"If you think about producing a newspaper in school, putting on a play, doing an orchestra concert, the kids are doing something real, meaningful. They care about it, and it is inherently educational," Mirel said.