Teachers Solicited by Suburbs
May 31st, 2002
“People say that money doesn’t create education. I’d like to see a good education come out of a school system with no money,” said math teacher Nelda Latham.
Though Latham has taught in New York City for 33 years, she could be making significantly more money in the suburbs teaching smaller classes if she wanted to move and could find a job. She’s already halfway there, as Westchester County’s Scarsdale High School offered to hire her away from Stuyvesant.
Latham is one of many teachers at Stuyvesant and Bronx Science who received letters last month from the suburban school indicating its desire to hire them for positions that pay up to 37% more than what they could ever make in the city.
“Everyone knows that the higher pay and the smaller class sizes are out in the suburbs,” said Latham. “I’m just surprised by the active recruiting.”
Speaking on behalf of himself and other close colleagues who also received letters, math teacher Bruce Winokur said, “We’re not really upset about the recruiting. We’re upset that the city isn’t paying adequately. Basically, Scarsdale was telling us we could make a heck of a lot more money than we do here.”
When asked why he chose to remain at Stuy, Winokur smiled. “I’m too dedicated,” he said. “However, if I wasn’t at Stuyvesant, I’d have listened.”
Of late, a teacher shortage has befallen the Board of Education as increasing numbers of trained professionals leave the city, often moving out to suburban New York or out of state. The appeal of higher salaries and smaller class sizes is often more than enough to pull teachers, who have worked without a contract since September 2000, away from New York City; at the same time, the threat of a tight budget next year keeps many from starting their careers in NYC schools at all.
“Starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $31,900,” said math teacher Iftimie Simion. Simion, who was also solicited by Scarsdale High School, then produced a Board of Education pay chart. “The top salary for a New York City teacher with two master’s degrees and twenty-two years of experience is $70,000. Scarsdale is offering up to $104,000. Teachers with approximately the same amount of education and experience are making 37% more upstate than they can here. Starting teachers out with approximately two thirds of what they could make nation-wide shows a lack of respect and understanding of the importance of getting and keeping the best teachers,” said Simion.
Higher pay for suburban teachers, however, does not attract all. Math teacher Richard Geller also received a letter from the Scarsdale school in past years, but turned down the offer. He said, “My heart is at Stuy. The kids are bright, the math team is the best, and of course, math is number 1!”