Teachers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties can expect to make less over their lifetimes than most of their peers, according to a new study.
Adjusted for cost of living, Dade ranks number 90 among 125 districts for lifetime earnings. Broward ranks 107, according to The National Council on Teacher Quality.
The council found it takes South Florida teachers more than two decades to climb to the top of the income ladder, meaning they spend more time working for less money.
"Starting and ending salaries may be misleading," said Nancy Waymack, managing director for district policy at the council. "We saw districts with slightly lower starting and ending salaries, but they ended up making more."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The council looked at 113 salary schedules — including the nation’s largest districts, along with the biggest districts in each state. Districts with performance pay were included multiple times in the rankings to show how much an average, above average or exemplary teacher would make compared to others.
On average, it takes teachers 24 years to reach the top of the pay scale, the council found. The average maximum salary: about $75,000.
Miami-Dade was slightly better than average, coming in at 23 years until teacher salary peaks. Broward was worse: Teachers there have to work 26 years. Over the course of their career, teachers in Dade can expect to take home $1.6 million in adjusted dollars. In Broward it’s about $1.5 million.
United Teachers of Dade union president Fedrick Ingram said the report shows teachers are undervalued. In a statement, he blamed Florida laws for retirement insecurity for teachers. He also said performance pay doesn’t even the playing field.
"Teachers — the very people seeding the minds of future generations — deserve more competitive pay, a predictable and stable income, and a middle-class career path. The United Teachers of Dade has worked hard with the Miami-Dade County School Board to build a better pay system but there are many challenges that we still need to overcome in order to make the system better for schools," he said in the statement.
Pittsburgh teachers earn the most over their lifetimes, according to the council. An exemplary teacher there takes home about $2.7 million. Also at the top: Columbus, Ohio; Atlanta, Ga.; and the District of Columbia.
New York City teachers make the least, taking home about $561,000 in their lifetimes, when adjusted for cost of living. San Francisco and Newark teachers also score at the bottom of the scale. Teachers there take more than 30 years to reach their maximum salary.
The ranks of Miami-Dade and Broward counties regarding lifetime earnings have been corrected to reflect a calculation error by The National Council on Teacher Quality.