Back in March my brother Stephen wrote about one Methodist Church publicizing the pastor’s and assistant pastor’s salaries in its 2008 Budget Report. Steve wasn’t too please with this, stating that “…a pastor’s salary is a covenant matter between the pastor, the church and the Conference…” When I first read that I wasn’t sure how I felt. When I was a teacher, the teacher salary scales were publicly available and one could easily figure out what I make, provided they knew my education and the number of years experience. That all changed this past weekend, however.
In Sunday’s edition of the Spartanburg Herald, the newspaper listed the salaries of every school employee in Spartanburg County that makes more than $50,000. I didn’t see the print version, but it was apparently front page news. The online version is also prominently visible, and if one wanted to know what I make annually, all they have to do is go in and search for my name in the database (and, no, I’m not providing a link to it.)
The Herald has never been a friend of public education. They have promoted school vouchers and attacked the school districts at any opportunity. They are also big advocates of district consolidation, and I’m sure that this was designed to show how much is being spent on district-level employees and how much we would save if we only had to pay one superintendent, one director of technology, etc.
As one might imagine, such publication also serves to stir up dissent. Teachers are now questioning how much various administrators make compared to their salaries. I’m not immune from such dissent. I now find that I’m one of the lowest paid administrators in the district, and one of the lowest paid technology directors in the county. I’m not happy about that.
With all of the dissent and discussion, some of the principals wanted to know if we could block Internet access to the database until things calmed down, not because they wanted to squelch dissent, but because they felt like too much time was being spent view it instead of teaching. When the idea was first put forth to me, my instant reaction was that this was a very, very bad idea. Things would eventually die down. However, if our employees suddenly got a message saying, “Your organization has limited access to this web page,” I’m sure the phone calls to the newspaper and television statements would begin, and the district would have some hard questions to answer. What was a minor nuisance would turn into a P. R. nightmare. Fortunately, our superintendent agreed.
I’ve still not decided how I’m going to respond to this. I figure I’ll drop a couple of lines at critical times such as, “well here’s my opinion, but, after all, I’m only the second-lowest paid administrator in this office.” We’ll see.