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Monday, June 17, 2024
Letters to the EditorLetter: Total median pay of Milpitas teacher was $103,623 in 2020

Letter: Total median pay of Milpitas teacher was $103,623 in 2020

To The Editor:

Your article on providing housing for teachers in Milpitas Unified (“MUSD receives 52 responses after putting out call for rooms for rent for educators” 9/2/22) provides some great insight into the difficulties being created by the incredible rise in the price of housing. High housing prices are making it difficult for everyone.

Kudos to the parents of the district in stepping in to help. Community at its best. But left unsaid in the article is whether Milpitas Unified teachers bear a special burden in this or if this is just a reflection of the market.

US Census Bureau per capita income in Milpitas was $49,812 in 2020. Actual pay records obtained from the school district using a legal public records request and published on the Transparent California site show the median Milpitas teacher with a total pay of $103,623 that year. And that is a number that doesn’t include the extra benefits teachers receive in the form of contributions by the district to retirement above and beyond what private employees receive.

That adds another $17K/year to their total compensation making that number $121K.   Given private employees would have to take $17K out of their income to provide themselves with the same funding for their retirement, that is really the comparable number.

The housing market makes it difficult for all, but significantly more difficult for someone making $50k/year than one making $121K.

Great to see parents stepping up and helping. We need to do everything we can to make the education of our kids as good as possible. Just providing some facts here to make sure we all have a good understanding of the issue.

Best Regards,

Todd Maddison
Research Director, Transparent California



  1. While that is a great statistic it does not explain to those that don’t understand that this figure is weighted by the fact that most of our teachers have been here for years and have earned a higher salary. While the housing crisis affects all teachers, it is especially difficult for those teachers who are just starting or transferring from other districts. Your point about “pensions” is especially misleading. The article deals with the shortage of housing. That translates to “available funds” to pay for rent/mortgage. The fact that our employees receive pensions doesn’t equate to a comparable number because not only is a pension not cash, it is received only after retirement and therefore CANNOT be used to pay rent. Very disappointed in your organization. I expected more from your research teams. Using a figure to justify a position isn’t transparent, it is politics.

    • Thanks for your observations.

      On the weighting, I’m just comparing apples to apples – comp for private employees vs comp for teachers. There are no data sources I know of that would allow analysis based on relative seniority. You are making assumptions, I am not.

      On the pension issue, if you were a teacher, I wasn’t and we both made $100k, for me to fund my retirement to the same level as you I would have to take $17,000 out of my pay to do it. Meaning even though our gross pay is $100k, MY “available funds” of $83k is far lower than your $100k.

      The only way that would not count would be to say the private employee should just be willing to live with a lower standard of living in retirement. Is that what you’re saying?

      Using a figure to illuminate an issue is the exact opposite of politics, it’s just math based on facts. Data rather than emotion.

      We love our teachers, all we’re doing is providing actual data to help inform the debate.

      • @TheToddfather You kinda don’t love our public school teachers. Here’s an article you authored about defunding public schools.https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2022/03/27/all-california-families-deserve-school-choice-for-their-children/. Outsiders like you, who are aligned with corporate interests that want to privatize our schools have a vested interest in suppression of teacher wages and also in doing harm to the public school system our community relies on. The reality is that our district is straight up saying we are having issues with retention because of compensation issues. Our community relies on our schools. Our community actually loves our teachers. What are you even doing here?

        • Tim – since you’re familiar with at least some of my work, perhaps you can quote me the text from the article you’ve linked that supports defunding the schools?

          The point of that article is that allowing parents to choose the best education for their kids is good for everyone.

          There is nothing in the proposition I was supporting that would have defunded schools in any way. As a matter of fact, public schools would have ended up with slightly more money per child than now.

          Your district is “straight up” saying they are having retention issues. Have they backed that up with data – particularly data showing higher voluntary turnover this year with people indicating salary issues as their reason for leaving?

          If so, I’d love to see that data – perhaps you can send a link to that to me at recordss@transparentcalifornia.com?

          I’m sure you’re not just believing them “because they say so”, are you?

          Thanks for the input.

          • “perhaps you can quote me the text from the article you’ve linked that supports defunding the schools?”…. uhmmm okkkkkk… fourth paragraph… second sentence:

            “The best way to give parents real power over school districts is to have the ability to take their money somewhere else”

            You also talk about how when your wacky right ringed fantasy comes into fruition, there will be a mass migration of students to private schools. So whatever “slightly more money per child” comes from the “plan”, would be swamped by the losses from decreased enrollment. Obviously you know that would eviscerate school budgets, leading many existing public school teachers to be fired. You have a funny way of showing the love you professed for our Milpitas Teachers. You probably don’t though as you have no connection to our home or community.

            I get it. You are doing likely doing the bidding of corporate private school interests. The same interests that would benefit the most from a crippled public school system reducing competition, and depressed wages lowering labor costs. We all have to pay the bills, you no different. But maybe try to sell something else less distasteful and requires less deception on your part.
            Your ideas are so radical and unpalatable that you can’t even find fertile ground for them in more conservative southern California. So you find yourself rolling the dice in 600 miles north here in our little hamlet.

        • “Toddfather”. Like that. Will have to tell my kids that – all three, who went to public schools and did very well. But of course that’s in part because their parents were fortunate enough to have the time and ability to be very involved.

          Providing the ability for parents to move their kids into schools they feel are better is not “defunding schools”, unless you assume the existing public schools are not the best.

          Apple has plenty of competition for the Iphone. Everyone has the ability to buy something else, but Apple appears to be doing just fine.

          Are you seriously saying people should be forced to send their kids through an education they feel is substandard? Or perhaps you feel only low-income people should be forced to do that, since the rich can already pay private tuition or buy $2M homes in “good” school districts.

          Seems like a bit of an elitist view to me. I’m more in favor of helping low income people, not forcing them to do something that doesn’t work for them simply because I want them to.

          Mass migration is not a “whacky right-wing fantasy”, it’s something that is happening right now – with public school enrollment dropping precipitously. But it doesn’t HAVE to happen.

          If public school districts paid more attention to what their customers want, they have benefits no private school can match. As I said, all three of my kids went to public schools. We had the luxury of making that as a choice.

          The only way their budgets would be “eviscerated” would be if they don’t provide a quality education. Maybe you should focus your efforts on that.

          I’d be right there with you. I served for years on my districts budget committee, lead their parent advisory committee, did 4 years on site council and ran for board. What have you actually done to . make our schools better?

          As for me having “no connection”, do all the members of your teachers union live in Milpitas? Does your teachers union never discuss their local issues with CTA reps who live elsewhere? Is there something specific about calculations involving the pay of your teachers that requires residency in the city to do?

          Exactly what have I said in any of this that requires local knowledge?

          Yes, I must be “doing the bidding of corporate private school interests”. It’s simply not possible to look at objective data provided by the district and do calculations.

          I would suggest you put your efforts into checking the math if you want to disprove it. I know it’s easier to just make ad hominem arguments, we see that all the time on various social media from people who don’t want to take the time to actually evaluate the argument and come up with a reasoned response, but I would suggest if you don’t agree with the math that you check it yourself.

          Yes, I also realize the idea of improving the education of our kids is “radical and unpalatable” to some. Usually those with a vested interest in continuing to avoid accountability. Would that be you? I’ve been up front with my associations, how about telling us all if you work in K-12 education?

          • Nice to finally meet you Todd, school voucher guy! I was wondering when you were going to show up. I was finding Todd, “I love teachers” guy a little disingenuous, but I am glad you are here now and you have made your end game abundantly clear. It’s not all facts and figures and admiration for teachers… there is a political objective to all this: school vouchers.

            I do have to quibble with a couple of your loaded assertions.

            First you say that public school funding won’t be eviscerated as long as it does its jobs well. But, for a significant part of the population the fact that teachers don’t lead prayers and biology classes teach evolution is reason enough to say their school is failing. Others are in a panic about critical race theory. Still others don’t like their kids teacher saying the last presidential election wasn’t rigged.

            There are enough of these people (read: your patrons) who would just want to take their balls and go home to create a negative feedback loop harming the schools most of us are happy with and rely upon.

            These malcontents should do what you did and run for school board and marshall change democratically. (Within the confines of constitutionality, of course). Let’s not burn the whole thing down directly with voucher, or sneakily and indirectly by denying teachers a fair wage so that they can continue to be a part of our community.

            Second, back to the original point about teacher compensation. Median pay is not instructive without consideration of cost of living. Your own website shows that teacher salaries are for the most part substantially lower than police and firefighter salaries in the same markets. Fire, police, and teachers all provide essential public services, and all should be paid at a level that allows for retention of talent and a middle class lifestyle.

            Also the overall median salary of 50k is not a good point of reference. First of all, many in our economy are working poor. I don’t want to make any assumptions about your feelings, but most don’t want our teachers to be working poor. Beyond that, 50k is not a useful comparison as that is not the salary of a professional who most likely has a masters degree which teachers are. In fact I don’t know of anybody in my community who is a professional mid-career who makes only 100k. It’s not possible to have a family and build a stable financial future on that kind of salary.

            As for my biography… I do not work in education at all. Between undergrad and law school I did teach a class on the LSAT, but that was for a strictly for profit test prep school. My primary connection to public school is that I started kindergarten in 1983, a child of refugees, not speaking a word of English, and I had public schooling my entire academic career. So many doors were opened for me that I will also be grateful for. I do also have a relative that teachers 1st grade. Nice to meet you. Now that we are sharing more about ourselves, I am curious who you vote for in the last 3 presidential election? I know it’s unrelated, but I feel as if we are becoming friends and I would like to get to know you better.

          • Regrettably we don’t appear to be able to debate based on facts and data. Your opinions are certainly your opinions, but I won’t be continuing this since your general approach appears to be “because I say so…”

            Some last facts for you…

            “a significant part of the population the fact that teachers don’t lead prayers …”

            In CA, 7.3% of kids are educated in private schools.


            I don’t know what percentage of this have religious-based instruction in the state, but even if it’s half that means 3.15%.

            Those kids are already there, so their attendance would not impact current funding levels for public schools, but even if we said there was so much demand pent up that that number DOUBLED, that would be an additional 3.15%.

            Would a loss of 3.15% of funding be “significant”? Depends on your definition. Given there would also be a reduction of 3.15% in most of the cost as well this seems not-so-significant to me.

            “denying teachers a fair wage”

            Who is advocating that? You? I have never advocated that.

            Total median compensation of a CA teacher in 2020 was $119,422. Teacher comp is about $25,000/year more than private employees with the same educational attainment. When making significantly more than one would make with the same education working anywhere else is not considered “a fair wage”, what is?

            “all should be paid at a level that allows for retention of talent”

            Agreed. Show me the data indicating we have a problem with retention based on salary. That is almost impossible to get from schools – they simply do not want anyone to know, because they actually have no such problem and pretending it’s a problem plays into statement like yours.

            In my own district the total voluntary termination percentage (for any reason, about 6%) is about 1/3 the turnover percentage for the education sector as a whole. And the district refuses to do exit interviews to find out who is leaving for salary reasons. i happen to know many who have left, zero have left for salary reasons – usually it’s spouse relocation, caring for a sick parent, having kids, etc. If you feel you have data proving otherwise, let’s see it, otherwise “we need higher pay for retention” is not a valid argument.

            “Also the overall median salary of 50k is not a good point of reference”

            You’re saying that knowing what teachers make in comparison to everyone else is not a valid point of reference? What is, then?

            If you walked into your boss and said “I’d like a raise”, if they disagreed with you the very first thing they would say is “we feel your pay is comparable to what you would make elsewhere.” Are we not allowed to compare teacher pay to what they would make elsewhere in the same community?

            “I don’t know of anybody in my community who is a professional mid-career who makes only 100k”

            Afraid your anecdotal data doesn’t trump the US Census Bureau anywhere but in your own mind.

            “I am curious who you vote for in the last 3 presidential election?”

            Immaterial, but I don’t vote for major party candidates. The solution to the dysfunction in our country is to not vote for people who lie to you.


  2. But wait, there’s more! Remember the teacher’s salaries are for 10 months! Diana Orlando, the teachers association president does not even teach a single student this year and gets paid PRE-pension, $133,768 for 10 months!!! That is $160,522 for a full year. Beginning teachers get paid $68K – also for 10 months ($81,600 for 12 months). How’s that for fair? The seasoned teachers don’t look out for the younger generation and the pay in union driven environment is NOT equitable according to my teacher friends. Also, do a public records requests for ALL the stipends that are paid out for every little training and non-negotiated time “above and beyond” their 7:30am-3pm work schedule.

    Yes, many do grade homework at home and do extra but now there’s not even homework to grade in some classes. Plus, the principals only get 1 hour a month to provide professional development as any type of training that is beyond the hour a month requires additional payment. Your tax dollars hard at work?!

    Here’s the salary info directly from the MUSD website. Of course, it doesn’t include the benefits either. – to which you can tack on another 20%. Mr. Weinstein, they do get the direct health benefits and other benefits that is utilized now, just not the pension which for most non-teacher folks have to contribute to a 401K OUT OF THEIR OWN SALARY which makes their salaries LOWER. https://drive.google.com/file/d/15Pdg7EFnXeTrcD5nTNgICZIyHz0UoM_a/view

    My roommate who is a teacher just want to set the record straight. Getting paid 6 figures 7 years out from college isn’t too bad for a 10 month job where teachers get pretty much what they want if someone cries foul! Since there are minimal meetings and little oversight on teacher’s work, it’s a pretty chill and rewarding job but teachers have to pretend that they are constantly doing more work than they actually are to prevent “more” work. BTW, my roommate now saves $3000/mo after all expenses – including summer travel. BTWx2, my roommate is also my life partner and I make even less and just wish I had a teacher’s salary. We are frugal and save around $5000 month and after a bit of saving, will be buying a home IN Milpitas this year. We’re both under 30 and both of our parents are not rich.

    My roomie is just a bit pissy when it comes to a part of the salary going to a teacher who is not actually teaching. Taxpayers are getting screwed too on many levels. The 9+ year teachers are ha ha-ing all the way to the bank with their 6 figures while using the housing excuse to get another raise!

    • @Carla M, you are a life partner of a teacher? Your partner is on a new teacher’s salary that is towards the low end of the scale? You make less than your partner so your combined income is probably around 150K? And, you want to buy a house in Milpitas in 2022? And, you are complaining that teachers are paid too much and you publicly speaking out against the prospect of her getting a raise… sounds legit. 🙂

  3. Teachers are parttime employees who only work and are paid for 10 months. Posting a 12 equivalent pay is confusing to some readers.

    Todd Maddison noted that he is trying to clarify “the issue” then posts links to his business URL with every comment he makes. Not sure how driving more traffic to his business addresses “the issue” for Milpitans.

    • Thanks.

      Teachers are salaried employees. Unlike hourly workers, salaried workers are paid for doing a job, not for putting in a specific amount of time.

      We see confusion based on the fact that many don’t understand simply because one only gets 10 paychecks that doesn’t mean you’re being paid for 10 months. If my salary were $100,000 for doing my job, it makes no difference whether I’m given one single check for $100,000, 10 checks for $10,000, or 12 checks for $8333, I’m still being paid $100,000 for doing the job.

      As for posting the business URL, given you’ve commented here I trust you understand the commenting system asks you for a website URL every time you post, right? I’m guessing you may not have one, but I do so it goes in there.


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