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February 2, 2012

Why we still don't know the real story about Baltimore City school system salaries

Today, The Sun published a database with the salary and overtime for every school system employee--by name and job title--dating back to 2008.  It's part of a series of databases that we will be compiling on public employee pay in the city. So far, we have published the same information for employees who work for the state, the  Baltimore City government, and the Baltimore County School System.More school districts will join the bunch in the coming months.

However, the Baltimore City school system salaries that you see only tell part of the story about how much system employees make--particularly administrators at North Avenue, whose salaries can shift more than school-based personnel. While teachers and principals' pay are reflected in a scale that is published on the Maryland State Department of Education website with every other district, administrative positions are more arbitrary.

I feel compelled to offer a glimpse into a rather tortured journey to transparency in obtaining this information--and why the public still doesn't really know what they're paying the stewards of the city's public education system, and the $1.3 billion budget it takes to run it.

The journey began when The Sun requested the school system's salaries--normally, the most basic public information request you can make, and the most readily available--on Nov. 16. 

After blowing the 30-day response deadline outlined by the Maryland Public Information Act--a law--by nearly three weeks, the city school system produced inconsistent, and incomplete data.

And more importantly, they had  "interpreted" our request as one for negotiated salaries--which would show us what employees are supposed to make--rather than earnings, which would show us what the system actually paid out. And this information wasn't offered. I thought to ask as I started combing through the data, and finding some red flags. 

Because we specified overtime, we were able to grasp how additional earnings--like sick-leave conversion, bonuses, allowances--can significantly inflate a base salary.

So, naturally, we asked the school system two weeks ago for salaries that reflect all income--like what was reported to the IRS, and reflected on W-2's.

Given the history with MPIA deadlines, I was informed that the system would not treat the request as a legal one, and wouldn't have to wait another 30 days.  To date, we have not received the system's earnings and the district has not indicated when it intends to turn them over.

There were also other inconsistencies in the data we received from the system. There were more than 50 employees without job titles, but showing salaries. On Jan. 23, we asked the system to provide those job titles, which they could not immediately produce, and as of this date have not.

When the school system decides to turn its earnings over--whether it's tomorrow, next week, or however the district interprets the MPIA deadline--we will be able to write more substantive stories about how the district is paying its employees. 

More importantly, it will be then that citizens can truly make more informed judgements about how their money is being spent to educate their children.  

Posted by Erica Green at 12:39 PM | | Comments (90)
Categories: Baltimore City
        

Comments

I grew up in an upper-middle class household where my parents worked hard and were successful. I am thirty years old now and to this day I have no idea what my parents' annual salaries were. I can distinctly remember asking them as a teenager and being told that it was a) impolite to ask someone how much they made and (b) private information that some people may not want to share for a variety of reasons.

I do not have the words to express how offended I am to find that I can type my name into your database and see what I see. You did this to county teachers a while back and I said the same thing then.

If you want to do an expose on teacher salary and central office salary go do some investigative journalism and WRITE A STORY. This is lazy exposure to private information.

Any chance this publication had on holding onto a sliver of my respect (or a chance of a subscription) is gone.

Brandon,

I hear you, and understand your sentiment.
But you do know that ANYBODY can walk in off the street and request this information, and they're entitled to it right?

Bashing The Sun for making public information, public? I must say, given you're critical eye of the system, I'm surprised.

And just FYI: There is a story on principals pay, that brings new and valuable information to light that I investigated myself, that accompanied the database posting. It will be one of many.

As a city schools employee, I am beyond upset that Ms.Green would believe it would be "investigative journalism" to publish personal information regarding the salaries of hard-working teachers, paraeducators, and other school personnel. These are hard working people who just had their personal information posted on a website. I feel like my social security number was just made available for public view! My salary is not something I openly discuss with even my closest friends and family. I understand anyone can receive this information by asking for it, but no one does. It is not your personal responsibility to make it available to all. If you really believe it is so important for the public to know how much we earn; then please list the salaries of all the educators in Howard, Baltimore, Harford, and Anne Arundel counties. It is appalling that you would single out wonderful educators when there are “inconsistencies” in other counties as well.

@Beth,
I don't know where you drew that conclusion from; I never said that publishing salaries was investigative journalism.

And you obviously didn't read the entire post, or you would have seen that the salary of every employee in the City of Baltimore, and in Baltimore County public schools has been up for months, and others are coming in the near future.

And, we never singled out anyone; in fact my story discusses how city principals are underpaid.

In any event, I understand that this is emotional for so many people, and I would encourage you to reach out to our editors, if you really would like to protest this decision.

Not being defensive, and I understand that this is difficult for some people, but I just want to make sure that people are getting upset about the right thing here.

Thanks,
Erica

No one is arguing that ANYBODY can get that information if they so wanted. However, there is a difference between an individual obtaining that information for themselves and plastering all of the individual information on a front page website for everyone to see. If you want to be proud of yourself for writing a story on principal salary trends, then fine, write a story that covers the salary range and make your point. I do not believe that putting up specific salary information of all employees is beneficial or responsible journalism.

Here is a real issue in education in Baltimore and surrounding counties:
The shift of teacher pension costs to the locals even though the pension system is administered by the state with all decisions made by the state, yet $250 million is proposed to be shifted immediately. The state is passing on the costs to the city and counties in order to balance the budget. Where will the money come from? Solution? No raises for teachers even if legally negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement. This brings up even more questions of local control vs. A lack of state funding. I realize The Sun has a legal right to publish salary info, but in all the postings to this blog over the years, I can't remember the outcry for teacher salary postings. Why don't the editors look at the pension issues I have mentioned and the implications for future teacher earnings and city/county resources. The Sun would provide a public service in this case.

@Daniel

I understand that. But again, you can take it out on me, but really you should write to the editors of The Sun if you really want the ear of the people who make decisions about what we publish, and why.

And yes, I am proud of the story--and have made my point, that will result in good city principals receiving fair pay.

Thanks,
Erica

@ Erica... you want to "make sure that people are getting upset about the right thing here".... well, what exactly would that be? That the Baltimore Sun is wasting my time on information that I feel is useless information?? (And no, I am NOT a teacher.) I certainly don't understand how in a city which we have a great deal of problems to tackle, why this is the news that makes the headlines on our city's main source of local news.

@ Erica... you want to "make sure that people are getting upset about the right thing here".... well, what exactly would that be? That the Baltimore Sun is wasting my time on information that I feel is useless information?? (And no, I am NOT a teacher.) I certainly don't understand how in a city which we have a great deal of problems to tackle, why this is the news that makes the headlines on our city's main source of local news.

Why is anybody surprised about this hack job of journalism by Erica Green? In all of her responses she talks about Principal pay, which is a very small fraction of the database that was posted. With this kind of work Green must be priming the pump for a move to the New York Post, as she would fit in very well there.

I believe in full transparency. If you're ashamed or embarrassed about your salary, it's probably because you should be. I make $85k a year; there you have it.. What this has shown me is the illogical and arbitrary way in which salaries are determined. I am shocked to see how LITTLE SOME people are paid and how OVERPAID OTHERS are. Before looking at this, I was naive and didn't believe in the extreme nepotism at north ave, but I've been proved wrong. Hey Bundley, what do you actually do? Are you saving that money for another failed mayoral campaign?

"No one is arguing that ANYBODY can get that information if they so wanted. However, there is a difference between an individual obtaining that information for themselves and plastering all of the individual information on a front page website for everyone to see."

Um, what is the purpose of news reporting then...obviously people can get "news" themselves with their own investigating, but without the news to accentuate things (sometimes for better or worse), no one would know about it. This will be a non-story in a couple of weeks anyway. The attention span of a human being is pretty small...

If I'm reading this right, there are home economics teachers making over 90k a year, and only working 10 months a year. Unions are negotiating for the most money than can get out of government, and that is there job, but it has become sickening how they vilify anyone who stands up too them as being against education. NO, we are against union lies and misrepresentation. This database proves it. Stop acting as if the children are anything more than a bargaining chip.

Good work, Erica!

How much do you make Erica? Let's keep it real.

What about good teachers receiving fair pay? If the topic of your article was principal pay why is everyones pay included in the data base?

@B-city resident: What I mean by that is, people have every right to be upset at The Sun publishing these salaries, but not accuse that we're somehow being unfair. We have published the salaries of ALL school system employees, not just teachers or principals--and not just in Baltimore City.

@MABE--You're absolutely right, and when we know how this will impact school system's, we'll be sure to report it.

@Joe--I talk about principal pay because that's what we wrote about today--not the only thing we wrote about. And it's clear that you have an agenda that isn't about good journalism. Also, New York is nice to visit, but I would never want to live there.

@Question: Keeping it real--I make less than the starting salary for a city teacher.

@CJ--that story will be fleshed out--but there isn't that big of a difference with teacher salaries when looking at the state. For principals it was. And we devoted a year's worth of coverage to that when we covered the contract.

@Everybody--I appreciate the feedback and hearing what everyone is thinking, even the ones who call me a hack.

Why is it redirecting back to the blog and not allowing a search function?

I don't know, but have sent your question to the web folks. What are you trying to get to?

I fail to see the positive that this search can bring. Who will look? Who will they search for? Will parents use it as a way to de-legitimize a low-payed teacher? Will disgruntled workers use it as a way to fuel their bitterness towards their administrators and coworkers? Will STUDENTS find it interesting to size up their teacher's "worth"? Or will someone (I don't know who) look at the disparity in pay as a way to fight for higher wages for those deserving teachers? Really? Which seems more likely? We are often given choices that question what we are able to do and what we ought to do, and yet, the worst in people has a tendency to prevail when given the anonymity of the internet.

@Casey--Very well said. Points taken.

What we can hope is that it's used for something constructive.

In watching the reaction to the other salary databases go up, it's been a mixed bag, but it has the potential to offer some perspective into what the school system thinks it's employees are worth.

As a city school teacher and Sun subscriber, I feel as though my personal privacy has been invaded. There are great many pieces of information that are a matter of public record, but to publish such information in such a grandiose fashion with little context is disingenuous at best and stoking the flames of hatred at worst.

I'll be cancelling my subscription to your paper tomorrow. I had previously enjoyed both it and this blog. While I'm certain that this bit of yellow journalism will result in a spike in short-term hits, I personally find it quite offensive and (perhaps worse) disappointing.

@Mat-
Sorry to hear that, but I understand. I'm disappointed to lose a reader who engaged in the important dialogue around education in this city. We need those more than ever right now.

@Mat-
Sorry to hear that, but I understand.

Erica
Thanks for taking my personal business and putting it out there for everyone to see. Really tough journalism here. Let me add I am impressed how you pushed off complaints toward the editor instead of standing up for yourself.
I wonder does everyone you write about know how much you make. My students will now have the chance to know and trust me this will spread like wildfire throughout my school and the kids will all know. Thanks! No way I can see that being a problem.
No chance a angry parent is going to make this apart of the next parent teacher conference. No way I can see that being a problem.
Oh hey hows this, all my kids friends can now look up and see how much I make. Jeez I am so grateful to you for that. No way i can see that being a problem.
But hey you sleep comfortable tonight, and I am sure your editors do as well.
Me, I have got to deal with the fact that one of the most personal pieces of information about me is now on your papers web site, thanks to you. No way I can see that being a problem.

I feel a personal invasion as well and I don't make nearly as much as some do. However, posting information like this only shows how much one makes; it does not show a person's dedication to their job. For instance, I was at my school four additional hours for which I was not paid, not to mention the hours I spend working on lesson plans on the weekend. Showing my hourly wages does not show how dedicated I am to my job or my students. I, as well as other teachers in the city, spend my own money for class projects. I understand that the information is available to the public but I feel that this article does not address the amount of work that dedicated teachers put into their jobs each day.

I feel like I'm stripped naked! my low pay is so embarrassing! Erica, please give us a break! I don't think it is necessary for everyone to see our individual salary...

i want to see what my principal gets... she's not doing her job!

Cindy,

Hopefully, we can get to the stories behind the numbers. I wonder if I could see what a real day in a city teacher's life is like--from the moment you start working, until the moment you stop grading the last paper, writing the last lesson plan. Converting that into an hourly wage would probably tell a very compelling story.

This one hurts ! As a principal in the Baltimore City School system I am trying to do the very best for my students regardless of the pay. Of course I know that I can do better financially , but now is my time to make a difference in the lives of my kids. I thought that was my personal sacrifice for the kids ! Key word..."Personal"....Why do you think it's ok to plaster my salary all over the world..yes world as in world wide web !!! No matter how you try to justify this story ethically you are wrong ! You just took our little dignity and threw it in the trash ! Are we no more than garbage to you ? Where is the honor ? Where's the respect ?

I am absolutely appalled that you have published our salaries! I understand it can be obtained by the public, however how many of us are actually out there looking up individual salaries? What you should do a story on is how poorly teachers are treated by their students and families! Or how overcrowded our classrooms are! Or how much money we spend out of our pockets each year on our students and our classrooms that we are never reimbursed! Maybe you should have contacted teachers first and we could have subtracted those expenses from our salaries before you posted! Then the salaries would have been more accurate! I work all year round and still have trouble making ends meet! I put in 10 to 12 hours order a day! I also work every weekend! My salary is my business and only my business! You can let your editors know I will never support the Sun! Why don't they post their salaries????!

Erica,
"Hopefully, we can get to the stories behind the numbers. I wonder if I could see what a real day in a city teacher's life is like..."

It probably would've been nice to have attempted to get this prior to publishing everyone's personal information? I'm sorry, I didn't mean "nice", I meant "responsible and ethical".

I am absolutely appalled that you have published our salaries! I understand it can be obtained by the public, however how many of us are actually out there looking up individual salaries? What you should do a story on is how poorly teachers are treated by their students and families! Or how overcrowded our classrooms are! Or how much money we spend out of our pockets each year on our students and our classrooms that we are never reimbursed! Maybe you should have contacted teachers first and we could have subtracted those expenses from our salaries before you posted! Then the salaries would have been more accurate! I work all year round and still have trouble making ends meet! I put in 10 to 12 hours order a day! I also work every weekend! My salary is my business and only my business! You can let your editors know I will never support the Sun! Why don't they post their salaries????!

BOYCOTT THE SUN !!!
"A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons. It can be a form of consumer activism."


@Hindsight--
That comment doesn't mean that I feel The Sun has done something unethical---nor do I think we've been unfair.

We have requested and already published salaries in other districts, and government agencies. The Sun has done this before my time.

The story that I chose to do on principal salaries--which is separate from the database-- is based on information that is already published on the Maryland State Department of Education website.



As a teacher, I too will be cancelling my home subscription tomorrow if I cannot do it on line NOW.
@Bring me to Tears, I concur 100%
I have zero respect for the author of the article and The Sun.
To me, The Sun is DONE.

Your paper will never get a cent from me again. CANCELED. Good job showing us how much you really respect teachers and great job considering negative repercussions. Nothing like everyone and anyone being able to know what we make. From random students, co-workers, friends ect, what happened to privacy? How much do you make, go ahead and post that. Saying that this information is already publicly available is a cop-out and you know it. You have chosen to make a database so people can just play and pull up names. Also take credit for your work and choices without hiding behind editors. You write they edit. Seriously. Never reading the sun again. I hope all teachers stop reading so the sun can enjoy those repercussions.

I'm a special ed. teacher in Baltimore City and I think this database is pretty great. We're public employees, after all, so people have a right to know where their money is going.

Erica, I am having the same problems searching the database that abub did: every time I try to click on the search field, I am bounced back to the blog.

I stopped commenting on this blog a few years back when Sara Neufeld left the paper. I guess I felt like Ms. Bowie and Ms. Green later stopped examining issues with a critical eye and simply became a mouthpiece for North Ave. They did not seem to have the interest, skill, and/or political acumen to get a decent hard-hitting story. I surely stand by that now.

I get it though. I am a public employee and my salary is public information for those who desire to see it. I am paid by taxpayer dollars so I think that it is only fair to offer that information. Given that I am a teacher, I surely do not need to clutter the blog with more of the same sentiment about decency, journalistic integrity, and the like...Suffice to say that my sentiments are echoed quite well in the posts above.

Here's my real beef with this whole situation:

Given all the stories that could have been covered regarding City Schools, why was this the hill you chose to do battle on? We as teachers are sitting ducks to begin with. We are already bullied, brow-beaten and dragged through the mud. You clearly need to attend a bullying PD. I can send you the information on where the next one is being held. You might even get a box lunch if you get there early. Just dont forget to sign in.

How about looking into.....
1. Why the 2011 HSA scores have not been released to the public and discussed by North Ave.?

2. How the downward trending suspension rates in the city has little to do with better behavior?

3. How the "landmark" contract that you and others hailed as cutting-edge is still riddled with problems? Look into the Model Pathway cohort mess. And while you are there, why not trying to get an answer on how one moves from Standard to Professional. Because I am pretty sure they dont know either. 16 months later.

4. How about the lack of clarity and communication regarding teacher evaluations for this year and the mixed messages about whether we are using the old PBES system or the new one?

5. How about looking into the COMAR regulation that is now requiring 4 years of math yet many schools are having to cut staff because of Fair Student Funding? How is that going to shake out for students, teachers, and schools?

6. How are City Schools going to deal with Common Core assessments that are intensive in writing when we cannot get students to pass rudimentary multiple choice tests?

The list goes on, but I fear you do not really care about those things. Those meaningful questions demand uncomfortable answers from the people that you got into bed with a long time ago.

But thank you for giving me tomorrow's lesson plan. The essential questions will look like this: "Does having the ability and access to do something necessarily make it okay to actually do it?"

@David Ortiz,

1. We wrote about the city's HSA scores in the fall. They were released.

2. We've also covered the suspension rates, particularly how how hard offenses are up. In that coverage, we also discussed how the suspension policy contributes to declining climates in schools.

3. A piece in November talked about how the contract was struggling--with specific examples of the Model pathway process.

4. A story in the next couple of days will more than address the issues around teacher evaluations. Liz has written extensively about this at the state level.

5. Actually had never heard about that regulation, or the possible effects it could have on FSF. But, will look into it.

6. I posed that question to the district months ago. Never received a response.

Thanks,
Erica

I find it interesting that two stories done in two weeks by the same reporter and maybe the same editor (?) have engendered such overwhelmingly negative responses. Just a coincidence right? This will be used for something constructive? There is a disconnect here. Where is the online database on your website for every public sector employee in the state. Why just those in education? Why this at all?

I have spent 10 years in hiding from an abusive ex. You have now given him the company I work for, how long, and how much I make. I spent years trying to rebuild my life and am praying he doesn't look on here and I have to do it again. Thank you for taking my security away from me.

There is no way you can convince me that publishing all our personal business and potentially destroying the safety and peace of mind it has taken years to create helps the community. If this was about "helping" the community, the least you could have done was publish our initials.

You have humiliated people who "salaries were so low we put it as an hourly rate". You have violated the privacy of a large number of people for the sake of "discussion". Let's not misunderstand one another. You posted a list of salaries in an economy where people are "Occupying" downtown in protest. The only discussion would be that of anger.

I am the one who has to sit at a building while a babysitter is with my kids because someone's child has been raped, abandoned etc. I am the one parents call frantic when kids don't come home and have to drive the neighborhood looking for them. I am the one who holds kids/ parents hands when someone dies, divorces, and becomes unmanageable. I am the one who has Child Protective Services on speed dial, becomes the de facto counselor when parents are in the middle of the office blaming the other for their child's issues, trying to materials for kids, and a shortage of qualified staff to ensure that students are learning. This is all before I deal with teachers, school board, parents and kids on normal issues such as instruction.

No, all that is not accounted for & paid. And by the time taxes come out of my check, I don't see anywhere near what the "negotiated" salary is. Yet you have given the public this impression otherwise.

@PTA Parent,
There are several editors at The Sun, who work with several reporters, depending on the story or project.
And it's not just education, but those who work for city government in all capacities as well.

I've been trying to look up things on the database since 5pm. Redirected to the blog since then. Funny - it worked correctly when I first started looking up salaries by name at 2pm. What happened and how can this be fixed?

@InsideEd readers,

Though I rarely do so, I responded to reader comments, given the sensitivity of the topic today.

I do not apologize for my story, nor do I apologize for The Sun's decision to publish salaries of school district and government employees.

I point those who take issue with The Sun's decision to publish salaries to our editors, not to hide behind anybody, but to make sure that those who feel strongly enough about this decision would have their concerns heard by people who can do something about it.

Thanks to all for the feedback.


This link is working for the database:
http://data.baltimoresun.com/salaries_city_teachers/

And this link is for the story I wrote on principal salaries: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/breaking/bs-md-ci-principal-pay-average-20120202,0,3890842.story

I am absolutely sickened by this. I would suggest that those teachers who have provided Erica and other Sun reporters with inside information take a vow of silence when it comes to this newspaper. There are other members of the media we can cultivate to tell our stories.

love the use of hyphens--great job!

bwaahahhahahha

love the use of hyphens--great job!

bwaahahhahahha

Good job Erica. These folks have two months off in the summer, generous sick leave, and they only have to be in front of the kids from 8 to 3. And then they get a huge pension.

I know the kids can be a pain. I know that the parents complain too much. But I think many are fooling themselves if they think they can do better outside the system. That may have been the case 2-30 years ago when there were still union jobs and America still manufactured things, but most of the work out there is around minimum wage. Jobs in the schools, the police and fire departments are some of the best around.

It's just not sustainable for the taxpayers who make so little on average to support those make so much more than they do.

Here's my big question. Why, oh why, do we need people's names included? What benefit is there whatsoever to name teachers specifically instead of just listing the school and job title? The fact that the information is public domain is not reason enough for a newspaper to publish it, is it? Is that really the only qualification to get something posted in The Sun? Let's embarrass the the public sector employees who are working to educate our children... just because we can? Shame on you.

Everyone who is up in arms realizes that your salary scales have been online for numerous years. If someone really cared about how much money you make (which they have a right to know since you are a public employee as stated above) all they had to do was to do a little math and know which track you were on. Not a very difficult thing to do.

Is everyone upset because they have recently lied on loan applications or are applying for a mortgage on a house and are lying to said lending companies?

I work in the County and this was done months ago for that public institution. I could care less who knows how much money I make.

Many seem to be unhappy about this. If you do not like it and want to feel better, thinking about a change to a private sector job/career is a great place to start. But then again you do not get summers off in the private sector.

also as stated on Twitter last night. Great Job Erica.

Really enjoy your articles and blog posts.

The sad truth of this whole situation is this: If education hadn't become a war between policy makers, teachers, and community members... teachers wouldn't look at this like the weapon it is.

Erica, you never answered the question - how much do you make?

It is important you understand how violated people feel. Give us a number, the same way 15,000 people had to do. Not that we had a choice, like you.

@Bob,
This comment typifies why I am concerned about this posting. There's a war on teachers in America and its because of the perception that we're overpaid, lazy, and gluttonous at the teat of the American taxpayer.

We are, in fact, hardworking with a job that few of our fellow citizens can understand without actually having been in a classroom. Bob, your characterizations of me are wrong, and comments like "I know the kids can be a pain. I know that the parents complain too much", only serve to underscore how little you understand the rigors and pressure of my profession.

We're not the bad guys. We're not Fannie Mae. We're not "the establishment" that needs to be raged against. We're the one's who are trying to make a difference in this world by helping to shape one young mind at a time. And we're also tired of being lambasted in the media by people who don't have the slightest idea of what it is that we do.

"Good job Erica. These folks have two months off in the summer, generous sick leave, and they only have to be in front of the kids from 8 to 3. And then they get a huge pension."

You're welcome to come join me at work to see how easy my 8 to 3 job is. Just an FYI, be prepared to stay a lot later and do a lot of unpaid work.

Folks, your displeasure toward Erica is misdirected. Salary information for all public employees is public information. What is not public is deduction information. Does everyone not recall that earlier this year the entire state salary database was published? Yes, this is uncomfortable, but there is an important principle here: we citizens pay these salaries. We do not pay Erica's salary; she works for a private for-profit company.

There should be an annual publication of these data for all public agenices. The agencies themselves should do this as part of good transparency. Because they do not, we should be appreciative that folks like Erica, Liz, and their colleagues who cover all aspects of governent do what they do.

I am okay with listing salaries, however I agree with the writer who spoke about the infringement on the individuals' privacy. I work for the state, and I have gone through those same emotions. Instead of names, identifications number should be used. It can be shameful for anyone to search your salary who wont even ask you personally. Again, you have no idea who is searching or for what reason. I make under $50,000 and I work with such specification you would think I make double. For someone to search my salary is much more derogatory and limiting than for someone who makes $100,000.

Speaking as a spouse to a city school employee, this was totally uncalled for. There were better ways The Baltimore Sun could have handeled this. They could have did the average slaries based on position or something along those llnes. I think more people are upset about the FACT their names were released.

Also to the gentleman, if he decides to log back on, that talked about the teachers only dealing with the kids for 8-3 and get off the summers - WHAT WORLD DO YOU LIVE IN??? I know that teachers are at the schools starting at atleast 6 in the monring if not earlier and don't leave until around 5 at night. Oh and lets not forget, they have to grade papers, develop lesson plans, attend staff meetings, etc. Oh and they don't get the whole summer off, they might get 6 weeks, but that is more as a compensation tatic because of how much work they do during the regular school year that they are not compensated for.

I think this article was posted in extreme hast just to get some traffic on the site. I will also be telling people to not subscribe to the Baltimore Sun.

Belinda Conaway, Toby Goodwin, and Andrey Bundley are all paid ridiculous salaries by the school system's Department of Safety & Student Support Services:

http://noconawaysin2014.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/belinda-conaways-ridiculous-salary-and-other-city-school-money-madness/

I also still can't search the database. Every time I attempt to I am taken to this blog entry page. Can this be fixed?

@Mary, I'll pass your information on to our developer. I'm sorry your experiencing problems.

You might try a different browser. If you're using an older version of Internet Explorer, it can sometimes clash with today's web pages.

If the public pays your salary, they have a right to know what it is, from the President of the US to the custodian of the local school. If you don't want your salary to be public, then work in the private sector. The salary analysis shows several things: many Principals earn only a little more than some of their teachers (but have full responsibility for success/failure of school); and, with school-based budget management, one can see why principals might favor less "expensive", less experienced teachers. Teachers with 25+ yrs and more education earn more and they should earn more than a new graduate. Now, everyone knows of the infamous nepotism and padding in employees who seem to wander about with no real purpose,

I thought no one will equal how I feel for Casey Anthony. I was wrong.

Argue what you want, but don't do it on the kids time. It is shocking to see the number of teachers and administrators engaging in non-official work in the middle of the school day, presumably on school suppled computers. Shame on each of you!

I've never been more disappointed in the Baltimore Sun.

I teach in the city, and I don't really care if people know my salary. The problem is that publishing salaries is about manufacturing controversy, not making progress.

Erica, you need to stop pinning this on the editors. Sure, there's enough blame to go around, but you posted the story; you chose to publish this. And you shouldn't stand proudly by it. It's the most shameful moment of your time at the Sun.

I can see an argument that publishing salaries is legal, but I can't see an argument that it's the right thing to do.

So the databases generate buzz and ad revenue, but they don't actually improve anyone's lives. Congratulations on being the TMZ.com of education news.


Response:
@Campbell--

Again, I'm not pinning anything on my editors, but it is the PAPER'S philosophy that public salaries are public information and stand by the fact that we are not wrong in making them accessible--which we've done for other employees in the public sector.

Just like I wouldn't personally attack you for decisions the school system makes, you should direct your anger appropriately.

With that said:
I'm the education reporter-- I REQUESTED the salaries, I WROTE the blog post, I WROTE the story on principal salary averages. And for that, I have no reason to be ashamed.

Erica
Thanks again for invading my privacy.
Love the comment about how you rarely respond to peoples comments. I guess it must be nice. Wish my job as a teacher allowed me to do the same.
So how much do you make?
I paid your salary for years with the money I sent for my home delivery, so I feel I have a right to know.
You could have done this better but you did not.
Thanks again for invading my privacy.

Love how you didnt publish my reply. (i.e post your actual salary, not a reply).

Also, to publish the comment against Campbell was tasteless. In the off-chance you do publish this, Deez your comment was below the belt and hateful.

Thanks for invading my privacy. The fact that you stand on the "it's public knowledge is funny". Do we post the entire police department or public works? I think not. I also find it funny that you posted the salaries for the period of 2008- current. Why???? In fact you actually posted the salaries of people that are retired and individuals who have past. Please explain how that helps a parent or student??? It's laughable that your paper states this is news, for who. As far as the story behind the story, I have got one for you. Did you every think that educators salary in the city have changed because the district did a SWOT analysis, or that some administrators receive more because they are leading a turn around school. Better yet did you ever considered looking at the job responsiblities for certain positions. Oh I forgot you claim the district did not give you that information. Really or was it because you would have had to do research-which was shared at a public form, that's right boards meetings. Better yet RACE TO THE TOP, but that might have been a hard read.
I am sure if you did you would be remorseful. The sad part is I have met you, and each time you have attempted to paint an unfavorable picture of city schools.
I have a story for you-how about you post how teachers and central office support students by often working on weekends, summers, and past 7 on many days. Unlike many other jobs I don't clock out at 5, and often times on weekends you will find me surround by materials planning and preparing. For the record show me a teacher that doesn't work in the summer. PS. many of us have part time jobs.
In fact many teachers come out of their own pocket to support students. If you don't believe me go to STAPLES, OFFICE Depot etc..

I am not really sure why I am even following this blog anymore. It has ceased to be informative or helpful. Formally, I believed that folks from all walks of life could meet here and hash out issues related to education. I miss those days.It seems the well versed and principled bloggers still lurk on the edges and chime in now and then but have mostly gone back to coping in the city on their own.

I understand that publishing our salaries is legal. So you did. You published a story about underpaid principals. Fine. What do you intend to write about regarding teacher salaries that justifies the invasion and publicizing of our personal information? Frankly, until you or any other person who does not teach in the city walks in out daily shoes for a long period of time, the numbers will mean nothing!There will always be those who do not respect educators and those who do. The "8-3 and summers off" group will never understand. Teachers themselves, are the most critical of those principals and teachers who do not do their job, but the educators who go far above and beyond far surpass those who do not do a good job.This is no different than any other career.

I was in school every day this week before 7:00 AM and did not leave my building before 7:00PM. When I leave, I take work home with me.I consider summer forced unemployment. I always need to find summer work to pay my bills.

Several times I have invited Sun writers, blog posters, and others to walk in my shoes. The problem is that you need to shadow an educator for an extended period time both at home and at school and seven days and nights a week to understand the never ending and exhausting impact of teaching in the city.When you are not doing tasks directly related to teaching, you are writing grants,searching out free resources, attending functions with students(chess, sports, debate, NAL etc) or completing tasks related to school committees, special events, clubs, Saturday School, and so on. Personally, I have many volunteers from the "real world" who support my work and my school.They always come to do a good deed, end up committed, and continually marvel at how educators do what we do on a regular basis! Again, you will never understand if you do not go to a school, get deeply involved, and THEN make a judgement.

Regading salaries. I have worked in several school systems. They are wildly different in their physical. emotional, and financial demands. A large portion of my current salary goes straight back to my students.My hours per week are always WAY over my required hours. I work every summer except for about three weeks. I love what I do. I love most of my students and most of my co-workers. But if American education is ever going to improve, the complaining needs to be replaced with real support from all citizens; educators, parents, community members, students,families, businesses and so on. Volunteers in my school could tell you tales of their successes and without their support my school community would be ever so much poorer.

So, discuss salaries.But then , actually write about someting that could make a real difference in the lives of educaors and the students we serve every day!

I agree with others publishing Salary of indivual on the web is not right thing to do, instead sun needs to Publish salary range and number of principals and HQ staff Salaries not individual names

Sun also needs to investigate how school system spends its money

How much is spent on schools and how is spent HQ

Here are few example ?

How support staff are hired at schools which is principals discretion

How much school system is spending on renovating offices in HQ

All IT staff has IPhone s,Laptops, i pads
and tablets. how these are helping kids ?

IT Dept building a state of art Visitors lounge , with a conference room,full bathroom, kitchen and high end appliances. (why IT needs this kind of stuff no one understands)


Sun has to do these kinds of Investigation Journalism no the kind of stuff putting salaries on which can be obtained by Freedom of Information Act

@Question:
Your comment is published. I don't censor comments--obviously.

@Love Education:
Yes, we did publish for every police officer and public works employee--every single person who works for the State of Maryland and City of Baltimore, in fact. This will continue to happen for other governments and school districts.

And if I've met you, who are you? Did I meet you when I was writing a story about a situation that painted the system in an unfavorable light?

And for the record, I research every single story that I do; I am constantly fighting the school system for information that pertains to actual education issues (not superficial things like salaries), half of which I don't get.

I'm at every single board meeting, and I too, NEVER clock 8 hours trying to track down information and do my best to cover the school system beyond the press releases and the rhetoric. If you claim to have seen me in action, you'd know that, too.

@Wise Educator:
I have always respected your insight on the blog, and this time is no different. I know you've been around for a while, so you know the Sun has done this before.

But your point is well taken that past, present, future, publishing a database for sheer access to salaries serves no purpose in telling behind-the-scenes stories about what it means to be a Baltimore city teacher.

I intend to write more stories from the database, and no, there was no way to get out every story I ever want to write about salaries by the time we put up the database.

And I truly hope that you, or someone else, will not challenge me to spend a day with them--maybe even a week--for the sake of expressing disdain over this database, but to genuinely tell that story. I'm game.

And just to be clear: The Sun didn't post this to attack school system employees, and the other databases weren't put up to attack those employees either (though, I think the reaction was still the same.) I completely understand those who feel that way, particularly given the discourse taking place in education right now, especially when it comes to teachers.

There were many conversations in the newsroom about this as reporters prepared to make our requests.
But The Sun stands behind the idea that taxpayers have a right to see where their public dollars go--just like budgets, contracts, etc. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but that's the philosophy that soon will have the salary of every public employee in the region-- including every school district--
in a public, searchable database this year.

And for those who don't think I get it: I am the daughter of a retired teacher and a retired principal; soon their salaries, maybe even pension costs, will be public as well.

Ms. Green:
I'm a Baltimore Co. teacher. Thank you for doing your job and providing transparency about tax-payer funded salaries.

The more important issue is exposing public employees who do nothing to advance education practices and policy and yet receive a paycheck ("50 employees without job titles but showing salaries")

Let's keep taxpayers' money flowing toward those things that most benefit our students.

Keep digging Ms. Green!

@Kelly,
Thank you! I don't build databases. I write stories--and there are ones coming down the pipeline that will scrutinize the very things you mentioned.
Erica

Interesting stuff.

How can the city afford to pay 17-20K to "Work Study Students"? Please find out. I'm curious as to who those students are.

I am beyond upset regarding this recent article that not only posts my salary but my name beside the salary. My entire name. I am going to research why this is everyone's business. I am not famous. I am just an ordinary educator who discloses information of this nature to those who need it and will use it for my personal business. There could have been a more private way to do this: such as looking at salary ranges or perhaps posting the teacher/principal salary scale to point out how underpaid we are. Many of the points that are made in the blog are great points that people do not know but I do not want random people coming up to me and saying oh, I did not know you made this much or this little. If that was something that I wanted everyone to know then I would tell them.

@Erica-Thank you for your response. Spending extended time with teachers does not relate to the data base except it might begin to explain such things as actual hours, actual responsibilities, real strengths and weaknesses in the system, relationships between staff and students, community involvement, curriculum, effects of constant testing and data analysis, lack of resources, conditions of facilities, resilience of teachers and kids and on and on.The list of possible learnings is endless.

You would really need to cover a large variety of staff and settings to get the real picture. Sort of a composite staff member.System would probably not approve unless they chose the staff and location. It has just been a dream of mine for the average non-educator to see the daily life of a city staff person.The joys far surpass the frustrations and the press rarely covers that type experience.

Back to the data base. My neighbor looked me up. Let me know he thought I was highly underpaid. My graduate school daughter looked me up. Stated that teachers don't earn enough for her to consider the teaching career especially since she knows "the rest of the story" about teaching.

While you're digging can you get them to come up with some accurate numbers regarding contractors that work full time for the system? They keep hiding behind the "FTE" numbers but it seems like they aren't as forthcoming in regards to contractors. We work the same , usually longer hours and receive none of the benefits, while a "staffing company" takes 33% of what is paid to them, before paying the contract worker. Some people have been in this status for as many as 5 years, seems pretty permanent to me. I know well over 50% of my dept is contract but these people aren't counted in FTE numbers, keep digging!

I am annoyed about my salary being posted but I am more annoyed at the ridiculous amount of money some of the central office heads make. Jonathon Brice and Tisha Edwards are two of the nastiest, meanest,condescending inept human beings on earth and they both make an insane amount of money. Both of these people make it their job to demean and humiliate teachers and other staff but I rarely see them do anything except make up new "ideas" they expect the teachers to carry out. Also why did our union leader, Marietta English, receive a $20k raise from last year when people still have not been approved as model teachers? The district is fighting tooth and nail to not give us teachers a 2-3% raise but these people are getting 20-30k more for doing what?

Green I would urge you to actually talk to people that work at North Ave and plant yourself there for a week or weeks and especially in the summer. They are all 12 month employees but I bet you will see they don't do half the work or put in half the time that they expect us teachers to. See how many hours they work to earn $175K a year.

And teachers watch your current union leaders and follow the money. We have been sold out by our union and clearly the price of $20,000 was enough for our union leader to sign off on a crappy contract.

I heard Howard Gardner talk last year about how appalled he was at the many ways his Multiple Intelligences theory was twisted and misused. It was so troubling to him that he switched his research programme towards the ethics of what constitutes good work. He talked about how we have an obligation to not just publish our thoughts and research, but to consider the diverse ways in which our writing will be interpreted. To wrestle with worst case scenarios, and to then directly address those problematic frameworks within our writing prior to it being published. That really stuck with me as a thoughtful and responsible practice for people with a large public platform.

The dominant narrative in education today says that teachers are lazy and overpaid, and that unions protect people who have no business being in front of our kids. When you present data like this without any context, the dominant narrative fills the void, which is unfortunate since while based in small kernels of truth, it is mostly false and even worse completely misses the more important points. Those important points which wise educator and others have skillfully pointed out completely alter the way in which we interpret the salary data. I hope that you take her up on her offer to shadow in and out of school for an entire week. That's the story that needs to be told more than any other. That's the story that provides the real and more complicated context needed to make sense of teacher salaries in Baltimore.

In the meantime, as a resident teacher in the first year of a teacher training and certification program who makes 20K, I can't wait for that starting teacher salary next year! From my vantage point it looks glorious!

(It's been awhile since I posted, maybe the first time since Sara left, it's good to be back)

P.S. wise educator, as always, is an administrator amongst teachers!

@ Corey Gaber -
I'm not 100% sure of your analysis of the "dominant narrative". Maybe it's the vocal narrative, or the narrative that hurts and gets under your skin to the point that you don't hear any other narratives. I'm not going to tell anyone how they should feel - your feelings are your own - but I'm thinking more people will use this data in ways that are different and more complicated than "all teachers are overpaid". A couple things I looked at:

- I know my child's special ed paraeducator (one-on-one aide in older terms) is underpaid for the work she does. The database let me confirm and quantify what seems like a terrible injustice to me. Not sure I have the power to change that, but it makes me sad/angry

- I'm interested in the difference between charters and traditional schools. Do I see trends there? For teachers or administrators? Is there a trend towards more junior and maybe lower payroll costs one way or the other? I decided this is too complicated for me to do on my own, but that would be an interesting story. Nothing to do with overpaid teachers, it just helps compare 2 different types of school.

Others above have talked about disparities in upper management pay. I think it's telling how long it took to get this data...

In a time when Wiki-leak's illegal actions to publish data that could put people's lives in danger is lauded as heroic, I wonder at the outcry and horror at the Sun publishing freedom of information type data.

How much do you make Ms. Greene?

Will you publish that?

An annoyed teacher.

@ A Parent-

While I agree with you that paras are underpaid, most are not college graduates. Many are high school grads with some college. Caring, loving, competent,but do not have the degrees teachers are required to have. Similar to a nurse vs a nurse's asistant. Of course, there are many highly vlaued and very underpaid care givers in our society; day care providers, nursing home staff etc. Sad but our reality. Should be looked at.

Charters vs traditional staffing? I would like to know this, as well. Regular charter staff and regular traditional staff are on the union contract. BUT, there are "contract" workers all over the system;traditional and charter, who are paid differently and in my opinion, not nearly as qualified. The contractors often arrive late, stay for no meetings,.have no other vested interest in the school (committees,clubs,etc), seem to need no lesson plans,and have no management skills. There may be the occasional exception but I am telling you my experience. It is all about money. There is a certain pool of money and so principals are staffng any way they can afford. Makes you wonder why traditional teachers are held to one standard and contractors to another?

@Corey-I remember some of your older posts. Good to read you again. Just so you know, I am very definitely NOT an administrator.I have several certifications and have been in the field for a number of years. I have been lucky enough to have had a couple excellent principals and some not so great. I have some other related experiences which allow me to see issues from different perspectives.

@Erica-Could you write about a composite teacher in the city? I would like to email with you.


Just to update my personal situation: between Friday and yesterday I have had four students either directly state to me that they know how much money I make or comment on the issue in some sideways manner.

None of these students could tell me what their current grade was (it is available online via parent portal).

Good to know they're focusing on the right thing.


From Erica:
@Brandon: Ugh. I'm not even that much older than them, and it's amazing how technology, databases included, have changed the student-teacher relationship. I wouldn't have dared even said anything to my teacher, even if I'd had some way of knowing how much they made.

@Wise Educator:
Would love to! Email me at erica.green@baltsun.com today, and maybe you can help get me started.

I generally don't make a lot of comments to the Sun blogs because I'm never sure that the acrimonious arguments are worth my time. But I felt I had to this time.

First, I work at North Avenue. I've been with the district for more than 20 years. I haven't had a salary increase for 5 years. But, while my salary hasn't increased, my work load has. And yes, I do have an iPhone and iPad. These are so that when I'm in visiting a school providing support to teachers I can be reached. But, these tools also make me accessible 7 days a week from 5 am until the time I turn out the lights. And yes, I do read and respond to emails at 10pm or 5:15 am - or any other time I happen to check my email.

North Avenue is often the scapegoat for all of the city's problems. But the reality is that the issues in our City as well as in many other parts of our country have little to do with education problems and much, much more to do with social issues that have yet to be addressed because they make people uncomfortable. You know, things like drugs, high poverty, imprisoned parents, parents who prostitute themselves in the home while their children are there to pay for a drug addition. Yes, there may certainly be things at the district office or in a school that need to be changed, but show me a business where everyone is perfect and I'll shake your hand!

As for the salary issues, I'm not someone who brags about my salary, nor am I ashamed of it. If people want to know what I make, why should I care. I've earned it (and probably more) and I can sleep well at night knowing that I've devoted my professional life to educating children and I've done a fine job of it both in a school and as a district office employee.

For the teachers who are upset that their students are mentioning their salaries .... why aren't you using that as a teachable moment. Instead of lamenting about it on the blogs, use it as an opportunity to teach your high school students about careers or about government transparency. Help students to better understand how that salary is fair or unfair based upon the amount of education and experience is needed for a particular job and for how people can be rewarded (or not) through salary. Lastly, perhaps a lesson on how unions protect the employees and the responsibilities that the employees have to the union (like demanding a full contract before approving it).

Perspective would be a good thing, wouldn't you agree?

I guess I'm supposed to be outraged by this but I'm too busy looking up everyone's salaries.

So far I only have one question. How do I get a job as a Special Assistant?

I see someone who started teaching in 2005 through TFA now makes $102,000 as one.

Funny - I don't recall all this outrage from the city teachers when all of the Baltimore County salaries were realeased a few months ago. We are on the public payroll and tax payers have a right to know where their money is going. What is sad is that tax payers all over the state are forking over the cash to support the payroll of Baltimore City - no doubt, one of the worst and most mis-managed systems in the country. I resent that fact that my money is going to the city when I reside and teach in the county. There has NEVER been a shortage of cash going to the city - only vast misappropriation. Just another reason for teachers and residents to get out.

@realteacher -
can you spell "TROLL"? - no doubt people will respond to you, but I remind anyone who is thinking about doing so -

from Wikipedia
"In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]"

The obvious response to trolls it to ignore them as far as I'm concerned.

@a parent
Dispute any one of those facts - you can't. Sorry that the truth hurts. By the way - I have been teaching for 19 years and make $76K. Just to be fair, Baltimore County is just as bad or worse at effectively using funding. Can't wiat to see how the new sup decides to clean up the mess left behind by Big Joe H.

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