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Ouch! Looking at a NYC Teaching Fellow’s check

November 15, 2008 pm30 10:32 pm

Gross: $2142 (starting with a master’s equivalent)

  • Taxes (Fed, State, City, Social Security): $675 (we all pay them…)
  • TRS414 STD: $64 (that’s pension)
  • TRS 55: $39 (that’s the extra deduction for 55/27)
  • UFT: $47 (why do we pay flat dues and not a fixed per cent? Why should beginning teachers pay 2% when senior teachers pay 1% ?)
  • UFT: $5 (that’s COPE. Good guy. But same thing. We should be soliciting larger contributions from teachers who have larger incomes, right? Maybe 50¢ times your years? But we don’t…)
  • Tuition Fee: $150 (that’s to pay for a masters course. And it’s outrageous – more below)

So his net is $1160.

Look, beginning teachers make less than the rest of us. Shouldn’t their deductions be less as well? Shouldn’t they be progressive? Instead, he pays pension that senior teachers don’t, he pays a flat rate for the TRS 55/27, the same rate as all other teachers who elected to pay for 55/25. He pays the exact same dues as teachers making twice as much. A percentage would be fairer. A progressive scale would be even fairer. We ask for the same COPE contribution from all teachers, and hand out cards with preprinted amounts – expecting all teachers to give equally, even though we are not paid equally.

But the kicker is that tuition fee. NYC Teaching Fellows have to pay for a grad course – and it is deducted directly from their checks. In June they will receive Americorps checks, a few grand, that can only be used for educational purposes. Why not take the money then? Why not wait until June and have them sign over the checks? These are beginning teachers, loads of expenses, at the bottom of the salary schedule. Many of them are new to NY, coping with big rents, high costs, etc, etc.

Some of this is unavoidable. But where the option exists, why not take less from those who can least afford it? We should be judged on our ability to protect our weakest and most vulnerable members, and right now, that includes our newest teachers.

See also:
What issues matter for new teachers?
Organizing Teaching Fellows as Teachers

Using Fellows for what they were not intended

28 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2008 am30 9:43 am 9:43 am

    For TFA we signed our Americorps checks over at the end of the year so that nothing was taken out of our paychecks. Back then my net pay was $1040 per check and I never knew how TF could survive with that extra money taken out.

  2. November 17, 2008 am30 7:31 am 7:31 am

    New York is expensive, especially considering all the one time expenses for the newly-arrived. It is heartless to take out money that doesn’t need to come out – these guys are, well many of them, strapped.

  3. Erica permalink
    November 26, 2008 am30 8:54 am 8:54 am

    Wow. You have sucessfully talked me out of being a fellow in NYC…

  4. November 26, 2008 pm30 4:58 pm 4:58 pm

    I’d really love to reduce the deductions… but we are talking about maybe $100 – 200 on the net…

    What did you think a teacher makes? What do you currently do?

  5. December 5, 2008 am31 6:19 am 6:19 am

    Are NYC Teachers/Fellows paid once per month or bi-monthly?

  6. December 5, 2008 am31 6:47 am 6:47 am

    NYC teachers are paid 24 checks a year, 2 each month.

  7. pbpcbs permalink
    December 5, 2008 pm31 4:44 pm 4:44 pm

    With the gotcha that you get the first 1/2 of your Summer checks if you are employed on the last day of the 3rd marking period (first day of fourth?) and the second 1/2 of your Summer checks if you are employed on the last day of the 6th marking period. This despite the fact that the Summer pay is delayed payment for the work done during the period up to the markers…

  8. December 6, 2008 am31 6:49 am 6:49 am

    It’s even worse without a masters. Once the grad school deductions kicked in, my check went down to $1010, which is amazingly less per paycheck than I made at my last job (at a non-profit) even though my salary as a teacher is more than $13000 more.

    • February 11, 2013 am28 1:28 am 1:28 am

      This has to be a lie or exaggeration. If 1st year pay is $45k and you claim you made $13k less at your last job, there’s no way that you made over $1010 net per check. $32k per year is considerably less than $1000 per paycheck net.

  9. Career Changer permalink
    January 12, 2009 pm31 5:04 pm 5:04 pm

    That $1160 is per week, right?

  10. lam8x permalink
    January 24, 2009 am31 4:03 am 4:03 am

    How do I sign up to contribute to COPE?

    • January 24, 2009 pm31 3:36 pm 3:36 pm

      Your Chapter Leader should have cards (and actually, is supposed to sign the back). If not, call downtown, and I’m sure they’ll mail you a card.

  11. Career Changer permalink
    January 24, 2009 pm31 6:37 pm 6:37 pm

    $1160 Twice a month?? In NYC?? How do people survive on that?

    • January 24, 2009 pm31 8:37 pm 8:37 pm

      Share apartments, don’t live in Manhattan, shop frugally, borrow… the list goes on.

  12. Career Changer permalink
    January 24, 2009 pm31 8:42 pm 8:42 pm

    Well, that’s fine for a 22-year-old. How do they expect to attract 40-somethings with significant industry experience with those paltry salaries?

  13. lam8x permalink
    January 24, 2009 pm31 9:25 pm 9:25 pm

    CLEP your way to the masters + 30, work at a school in an outer borough and live nearby with a roommate, tutor privately on the side or tend bar, sublet during the summer months and live somewhere cheaper.
    No one needs to be getting rich off the taxpayers money anyway; it’s a public service.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 6, 2014 am31 2:29 am 2:29 am


      Yes, teaching is a public service. And it’s also a profession. One that requires a particular set of skills, some talent, an education and great deal of dedication and passion– assuming you want to be good. And like any essential professional, it deserves to compensated well. Because some people actually value education in America.

  14. KMTMB permalink
    January 25, 2009 am31 2:01 am 2:01 am

    Iam8x: Rich off the taxpayers’ money? Teachers and other employees of Fed, states, cities, and municipalities ARE TAXPAYERS TOO. Here’s another shocker, we actually have to pay for food, utilities, sales taxes, property taxes, rents/mortgages, etc.

    Living with a roommate doesn’t work when you’re a single parent or married and raising a family.

    I have yet to meet teachers who expect to get rich teaching. As a matter of fact if you study the history of the profession, teachers’ salaries stagnated for many years. I believe it was approximately 2000 or so when NYC salaries improved somewhat.

    I don’t want my children’s teacher coming in to teach after tending bar or working any second job just to make ends meet in the name of public service. It makes no sense to champion low pay for “public servants” and then demand peak performance of teachers, firefighters, police, etc. These are the very jobs that would be undermined by second jobs.

    Public service does not translate to volunteering. It is not indentured servitude. Teaching is a noble profession which I take seriously and I expect my colleagues to take seriously.

    Last I checked teachers are REQUIRED to have a bachelors AND a masters AND every five years have about 175 credits of continuing education to keep their licenses. This not only takes time but money out of pocket. Also, how many jobs,public service or otherwise, expect their employees to provide the basic supplies to even carry out their jobs? I am referring to the resources needed for the students. Not enough or out of date text books, chalk/markers, copy facilities and supplies, pencils, paper, transparencies,batteries for calculators…the year starts off OK but in NYC the mid-year cuts are felt immediately.
    I am lucky that the administrators in my high school are good at budgeting. In general we all work collegially and are scraping by. Anyone who tells me that I can “take it off my taxes” is demonstrating their ignorance of our tax code. No one gets dollar for dollar compensation through the IRS and even this paltry bone is after the fact.

    I am really annoyed with the hypocritical attitudes. Teachers should be highly qualified and have the requisite degrees, pull money out of pocket to provide or supplement basic supplies, call homes to find the students who are not attending school, find the real phone numbers of the students not coming to class, call the homes of the students who literally do no work in class and tell you in no uncertain foul terms what they think of you, school, parents, call the homes of students who are doing well, call the homes of studnets who have turned their behavior around. Then plan lessons, write tests, grade tests, review homework so I can fine tune the Algebra lessons for the 140 to170 9th graders I teach in 45 min. periods, provide one-to-one time for 30 students during the period and provide tutoring for students (and their parent(s)) who refuse to come early,stay late, come on the weekend for extra help,students even balk at coming during their school day even once a week. Teachers have 3 “free” periods: lunch period (45 min), Prep, Professional (admins can assign you a specific task from a menu), teach 5 periods.

    Just in case you didn’t get the point; teachers don’t just work 9 to 3. We bring work home or stay late.

    I LOVE MY JOB. I had no illusions when I applied to the NYCTF. I’m in my 5th year and I have no intention of leaving NYC. I am an idealist and I firmly believe that if I/we don’t provide the best education to the neediest through our best efforts I/we undermine the education of ALL children. My own children’s education will not be at the expense of any child anywhere in this country. This is the reason I changed professions. I have literally put MY money where my mouth and heart is now.

    The sweeping generalizations about public service employees/teachers getting rich at taxpayers expense is insulting and untrue. Teachers expect salaries that reflect their work and their profession. We understand that no one has the funds to pay us for all the work we perform. If salaries are “higher” than some other jobs so are the responsibilies and expectations.

    End of rant.

  15. January 25, 2009 am31 2:37 am 2:37 am

    Thanks K.

    Career changer, it’s tough. If you have a working spouse… Or if you have savings you can dip into… the pay does go up about 3 grand after the first year (current scale). And the taxes deducted will be less for someone with a mortgage and dependents. But definitely tough.

  16. Career Changer permalink
    January 25, 2009 am31 6:12 am 6:12 am

    I’m sorry … but THREE GRAND? Whippty-freaking-do.

    I’m not married — I don’t have a working spouse — and I have 20 years of experience in an incredibly demanding creative field. I want to transition into teaching, but for God’s sakes I’m not transitioning into the convent where I’m expected to take a vow of poverty. I understand that I’m not going to get “rich” teaching, but at the very least if the NYC public schools expects to attract professionals like myself into the classroom, they’re going to have to do a lot better than a salary that would require me to sell my co-op and dial my lifestyle back to my post-college days of roommates and moonlighting jobs.

  17. annie permalink
    February 18, 2009 pm28 10:32 pm 10:32 pm

    Get real. If you’ve never been teaching in an NYC school you have no idea that there isn’t enough money in the world to account for the effort, sacrifice, heartache and dedication. No one teaches to get rich because you can’t. In fact, as a divorced, single parent with a senior in high school, and a 2nd year Fellow, I am the poorest I’ve ever been. As teacher you are parent, nurse, psychiatrist, crisis specialist, custodian…and at times a corrections officer, as well as teacher. Dedicated teachers are overworked, tired and underpaid. Teachers who don’t give a shit have boundless energy, leave early and leave nothing but bruises on the intellects and souls of their students. In the end, truth be told, teachers shape society and if society continues to denegrate the profession and belittle the effort, surely you will attract teachers to meet that shitty standard. It is a position of honor filled with stress. Most people not only lack the skills to teach; they don’t have the guts.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 6, 2014 am31 2:32 am 2:32 am

      So well said!

  18. chris caves permalink
    December 12, 2011 am31 12:31 am 12:31 am

    very true. If you dont have passion to teach, find a career that’s a better fit for you.

  19. Anonymous permalink
    December 21, 2011 am31 11:37 am 11:37 am

    Career Changer, it’s obvious that teaching in NYC is a “wife” job; it’s great for bored housewives whose husbands pay all the bills but who are looking for a little mad money on the side.

  20. Layla permalink
    August 8, 2014 pm31 11:47 pm 11:47 pm

    Also, you are not guaranteed the Americorps service award. Americorp denied my award after a year of working quite hard with students with severe disabilities, learning ASL and putting up with an abusive principal that has a horrible teacher retention record.
    Thanks, Teaching Fellows.

    • Sarah permalink
      January 18, 2015 pm31 10:09 pm 10:09 pm

      which school was the abusive principal? I just applied for a teaching fellow but I wont put up with nonsense, even from a principal. Thanks.

    • Audrey permalink
      March 13, 2015 pm31 9:15 pm 9:15 pm

      Why would they deny your award? Were you supposed to serve for 2 years to get it?

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