Bee’s teacher database sidesteps privacy issue

Kudos to the Sac Bee for its newest salary database on all of the state’s teachers. “See how well your school district pays its teachers.” Not “See how much your kid’s teacher makes.” The tool allows you to look up district average salaries and other data, and compare salaries across districts in a region or across the state. A useful tool without any of the privacy issues. This should be the model for all of the Bee’s salary databases.

I do think it is interesting that the spin has been spun somewhat on this one… “Are teachers in your area making what they deserve?” That sentiment is absent from Melanie Sill’s editorial on the backlash to the State worker pay database. Back then it was all about doing a public service, giving us information about worker compensation because “state spending [is] under pressure.” Now, it’s all about making sure your kid’s teacher is getting a good paycheck? Maybe I’m splitting hairs, but I sense that the Bee is making some much needed course corrections here.

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

7 thoughts on “Bee’s teacher database sidesteps privacy issue”

  1. I agree they seem to be handling this one better, although they’ll never admit publicly that the adverse reaction had any effect on them. That seems to be the way the Bee handles criticism. They will insist they did the right thing, but then you notice a shift in modus operandi the next time a similar issue comes down the pike.

    Personally I never liked the state worker salary data base. I still see no need to know individual salaries. Average salaries for departments, perhaps disaggregated with average info for job levels/experience seems like all anyone who wasn’t just interested in snooping would need to know.

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  2. And actually, in this case I think they probably aren’t providing enough information for this to be completely useful. “Teacher” isn’t the same as a State pay grade like “Accountant I.” Averaging 30-year vets together with first year, non-tenured teachers is kind of silly. Or maybe it works itself out, I don’t know, I never took statistics.

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  3. If someone has the time, it would be interesting to add multiply the average salary by he number of teachers for each district and get a grand total. Remember that education get approximately half or $50 billion from the state (rough numbers but close). I would like to know how much of teachers salaries are used against the $50 billion. My guess is that number is relatively small in comparison, but it would be a start to audit where all the money is going before we give the system even more.

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  4. A true course correction would be revamping the State worker database so that it lists positions, departments, and salaries, and omits individual names.

    Between the pandering databases, the less-is-more propaganda about the redesign, and the horrorshow of the unmoderated online comments comments, the Sill-era Bee seems like a train wreck that’s still a-rolling.

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  5. DMZ is right. The “average” salary is really a factor of experience. A high average means the district has a more experienced staff, and therefore get paid higher wages. The more ‘ghetto’ districts have high turnover and so the “average” salary appears to be low, but really its that they have a young staff.

    For example if you compared Folsom-Cordova with Grant Joint Unified, Folsom has a way higher average salary. But if you look at the lowest and highest salary of Grant, they are both higher than Folsoms. What that tells you is that nobody sticks around long enough to earn those higher salaries in Grant.

    So the ‘averages’ are waay off and misleading the citizen who takes them at face value into believing that Folsom pays their teachers better than Grant when the exact opposite is true.

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  6. What privacy issues? The CA Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that public employee salaries (with some exceptions, like undercover cops) are not private info.

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  7. Alps: I suppose that was a bad choice of words on my part. I was not referring to privacy issues in any legal sense, more to the privacy concerns of the thousands of people who are dismayed by the lack of decorum of printing names and salaries.

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