Husband and wife teachers making over $192K ‘care more about’ $6K than ‘improving’ teaching skills

Victor Joecks

Don’t shoot the messenger; teacher Vicki Steffenhagen is the one who wrote that.

Vicki Steffenhagen is an English teacher who earned $88,432.90 in 2011. Her husband, a high school counselor, earned $104,895.88 in 2011. That’s total compensation of over $193,000 in 2011. If you just look at base pay, Vicki and her husband received over $135,000 last year.

With that in mind, here’s part of Vicki’s recent letter to the editor to the Review-Journal.

To clarify, a column was added to our published pay scale several years ago for teachers who paid for and completed certain certificate programs. The cost was $3,000. My husband and I did not have $6,000 to pay, so we had the district take out money from every paycheck for an entire school year. We took quite a hit all of last year. We knew it was an investment in our futures, so we worked our butts off taking classes and writing papers and reading and creating projects and lessons and working full-time at a large high school in town.

We did all of this while making much less money. Now the district doesn’t want to honor that, and it’s wrong. We would never have spent $6,000 to take enrichment classes. Do I care more about the $6,000 than improving my teaching right now? Yes.

Good teachers don’t get into education for the money (it’s the summers off, of course). You know what you are going to make, for the most part. But what the Clark County School District is doing in some aspects of this negotiation is completely out of line.


Vicki Steffenhagen
Las Vegas (Emphasis added)

Read that again, remembering that this is a couple earning over $193,000 a year and has “the summers off”:

Do I care more about the $6,000 than improving my teaching right now? Yes.

This shows two things. First, many, many teachers are doing very well. How many of their students have parents making almost $200,000K a year as a couple with three months of vacation every year?

Second, it shows the stupidity of paying more for advanced degrees and not increases in student performance.

Not only have studies consistently shown that teachers with a M.A. degree are no more effective than those without, read what she says, “We knew it was an investment in our futures…”


She and her husband took these classes with the goal of earning more, not improving their teaching abilities. Earlier in her letter, she describe changes she made as a result of those classes, but she and her husband would have received a salary increase whether their teaching abilities improved or not.

In a sane system or what happens every day in the private sector, teachers would take classes with the goal of improving their teaching ability, knowing that their pay would increase if their performance did.

It’s time to completely change the teacher pay system, and the first step to doing that is repealing NRS 288, Nevada’s collective bargaining statute.

(h/t Steve)