The DQYDJ Weekender (Week of 12/5/11)

December 10th, 2011 by 

Welcome back friends, readers, and haters to your favorite Personal Finance web site!  I hope we pleasantly annoyed you with our balanced take on the unemployment report this week.  Nothing was too hard hitting - you know that men are finding themselves unemployed more than women and the 8.6% top-line unemployment rate begs the question, is the unemployment rate an improvement?  How much mileage can you get out of a single unemployment report?  Plenty, it turns out.  We'll stop now until it strikes our fancy again (or I can get Cameron and Bryan to write something!).

DQYDJ Wins Stuff!

Last week we hit you with a nice review, this week we hit you with a Triple Team of Blog Awards from our pal Harri at Totally Money.  When she's not talking about drunken snogs, our pal in London is weighing the competition between various blogs and web sites in the Personal Finance niche - and believe us when we say it's a packed one.  This week Totally Money published its November winners!  DQYDJ brought home the bacon with the prize for being a 'Blogging Powerhouse', and also ranked highly in 'Crowd Pleasers' and 'Ones to Watch'.  So, don't take it from us, take it from them... keep coming back to DQYDJ and subscribe to our irreverent banter.

Carnivals and Featured Links

Uh-oh, no carnivals!  How Embarrassing.

Links You MUST Read ("These aren't the droids you're looking for")

On Teachers...

Let's ruffle a few feathers, shall we?

In another example of DQYDJ's bias to people we know in real life (in this case, a friend of the family), please read The Myth of the Underpaid Teacher from Michael Robertson.  Note that we agree with Mr. Robertson, and we do so for the following reasons:

  • Many current contracts are biased towards age and longevity at the expense on skill and talent.
  • In almost all cases (private as well as public) the massive increase in administrators in education has come at the expense of teachers.

We love teachers.  We also 100% agree - the teachers that we like the most are not paid enough.  School funding has increased at a rapid pace - but that money has found its way to the oldest teachers and administrators... and less to talented teachers (sure there is some overlap, but there is a lot of spillage).  We haven't seen our friend Paul at The Frugal Toad teach a class (read his comment on our article, "The Truth About the 1%ers"), but if he's half the teacher we're guessing he is (since he's a great guy!), he's a spectacular teacher.  How do we ensure that the Pauls of the teaching world get their due, and not any extraneous staff or teachers who have one skill, that of endurance?

First, let's settle an argument... teachers in aggregate are paid a good amount for their work.  If what I said above is true, that means some long-time teachers are overpaid and some talented teachers are underpaid - we're sure it's the case.  Here are the work numbers (BLS data, 2010).

Percentile 10.00%25.00%50% (Median) 75.00%90.00%
Elementary School$34,390.00$41,750.00$51,660.00$64,890.00$80,140.00
Middle School$34,990.00$42,070.00$51,960.00$65,450.00$80,940.00
Secondary School$35,020.00$42,670.00$53,230.00$67,210.00$83,230.00

The BLS released a study in 2008 about the work habits of teachers in America.  Some key findings (read the study, it's interesting):

  • "Teachers employed full time worked 24 fewer minutes per weekday and 42 fewer minutes per Saturday than other full-time professionals. On Sundays, teachers and other professionals worked, on average, about the same amount of time. These estimates are averages for all teachers and other professionals who did some work in the week prior to their interview."
  • "Teachers were more likely than other full-time professionals to hold more than one job simultaneously. Seventeen percent of teachers and 12 percent of other professionals were multiple jobholders."
  • "Thirty percent of teachers worked at home on an average day, compared with 20 percent of other full-time professionals. Teachers and other professionals were equally likely to work at their workplace on an average day."
  • "Persons employed as teachers were less likely to work in June, July, and August than during other months of the year. These months coincide with times when schools typically are closed or have special summer schedules."

Remember Nelson Smith of Financial Uproar did some analysis after his readers guilt tripped him into writing about teachers?  Teaching is definitely not a bad deal for the "average" teacher.  Here's the problem: when we say, "increase funding for education" (to cheers from the public!), the targeting is still a question mark.  Until compensation in teaching is more closely tied to performance we'll still have problems.  Argue all you want about how you measure "performance", but you'll be hard pressed to convince me that the status quo isn't a rotten deal - for the skilled teachers and to all students.  As long as an 'experienced' teacher who doesn't inspire her kids is paid more than a talented teacher who does... the work isn't finished.

Okay, grab your pitchforks and sound off in the comments!



PK started DQYDJ in 2009 to research and discuss finance and investing and help answer financial questions. He's expanded DQYDJ to build visualizations, calculators, and interactive tools.

PK is in his mid-30s and works and lives in the Bay Area with his wife, two kids, and dog.

Don't Quit Your Day Job...

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