New York City public schoolteachers get a base pay of $39,900 to start out. Because of a requirement within the Department of Education that all public schoolteachers must have a master’s degree or at least be working towards one, the salary increases with credits earned.
As they are private entities, there is so set pay scale for Catholic schoolteachers in the New York Archdiocese or Brooklyn and Queens diocese. Still, it is markedly less than what public teachers make.
Though the Federation of Catholic Teachers recently agreed to a contractual pay hike with the Archdiocese, average starting pay was a paltry $26,000 for freshman parochial teachers.
The union, which represents 3,200 Catholic schoolteachers, struck a deal that calls for wage hikes of 4 percent the first year, and 3 percent and 5 percent the following years. Health insurance, a major sticking point, was also ironed out.
Last year, the fight was so fierce at one point that teachers staged sickout at area Catholic schools, leaving parents with a headache and nowhere to turn.
Even with the hike, salary difference is even more marked at the upper levels. Because most parochial teachers are lay and are not required to have advanced degrees, salaries rarely top out over $40,000. Compared to the over $80,000 a public school teacher can make after 22 years of service, the difference is clear, though the choice to teach in a Catholic school is worth the lost income for some.
Some teachers find that it is worth the pay cut for the stability and environment synonymous with Catholic schools.
Still, Internet message boards are full of teacher’s gripes, one from recently vetted public school teachers who left the parochial school system and asked if the only way a teacher can work in a Catholic school is if they are married and make dual incomes.
The public school salary ladder is due in no small part due to the powerful union at work for teachers.
The United Federation of Teachers is currently locked in battle with city administration over the fight for a contract. City teachers have been working without one since May 2003.