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Special to the JTA Study Shows Teachers in Jewish Schools Are Underpaid

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Teacher salaries in Jewish day and supplementary (afternoon or Sunday) schools are “too low to afford a head of family a decent, comfortable standard of living as the sole wage earner,” according to a nationwide study conducted by the American Association for Jewish Education (AAJE), national coordinating agency for Jewish education in the United States. Findings of the study, which analyzed date from 382 Jewish schools in 31 metropolitan areas during the 1975-76 academic year, were released this week by Robert H. Arnow, president of the AAJE.

Arnow reported that the median maximum salary of a full-time day school teacher was $13,433 a year, while that paid to a full-time teacher in a supplementary school was $9,400. He noted that in both instances, however, “there is strong reason to believe that few teachers are paid maximum salaries.”

In addition, Arnow stated that Jewish school teachers’ salaries, which “are too low to begin with,” have become “even lower because of galloping inflation.” He said that while the Consumer Price Index rose 50 percent from 1969-70 to 1975-76, maximum salaries for day school teachers increased 42.6 percent and those for supplementary school teachers only 20 percent. Moreover, “annual increments in 1975-76 averaged only $395 in day schools and $250 in supplementary schools,” Arnow said.

The study was conducted by the AAJE’s Department of Statistical Research and Information under the supervision of Dr. Murray Rockowitz and Dr. Gerhard Lang, the Department’s director and research consultant, respectively.

OTHER FINDINGS INDICATED

It reported further:

*The median starting salary for a full-time teacher was only $9,100 in day schools and $6,400 in supplementary schools.

*The income potential for teachers in Jewish day schools “is considerably below that of their public school colleagues,” even though day school teachers “are expected to assume the same duties” (beyond teaching) of equivalent public school personnel. For example, the median maximum salary of a public school teacher exceeds that of a day school teacher by 13.2 percent and his average annual increment is 20.3 percent higher. In addition, teachers in Jewish day schools generally receive smaller starting salaries, lower rewards for advanced degrees and fewer fringe benefits.

* The starting and maximum rates paid to part-time teachers in Jewish supplementary schools are $10.50 and $16.30 an hour, respectively–“well below those paid to such workers as painters, plumbers and truck drivers.”

* Mast Jewish schools appear not to have codes of practice that include salary provisions, suggesting “a tragic improvisation instead of long-range planning regarding appropriate emoluments granted to Jewish teachers.”

CRITICALLY IMPORTANT RECOMMENDATIONS

Arnow declared that the study’s findings “prompt several critically important recommendations for the Jewish community to implement if it is serious about seeking to attract–and to keep–able and talented people in Jewish education.” He said that “adequate funding must be made available to increase salaries markedly and provide a full range of substantial fringe benefits in order to enhance the profession of the Jewish school teacher and make it far more attractive financially.”

In addition, Arnow called on Jewish community federations and welfare funds to “consider making specific allocations in the area of Jewish education that would encourage local schools to raise the status and improve the standards of their personnel.” He also reiterated a long-standing AAJE plea that Jewish communal planners urge smaller schools “to consolidate their human and financial resources.”

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