The Snoop – Two Things

After a recent school-busing related editorial, I received an email that said (among other things), “I have a Master’s degree in Education with 26+ years of experience, yet I make less than most bus drivers.”

Two things.

First, the numbers.

According to 2019-2020 Ava Schools Salary Schedule (posted on the school website), a Masters Degree-holding 26-year veteran of the Ava Schools District earns between $51,324 – $52,132 (depending on the number of continuing education credits earned).

We know what the bus drivers can charge the school. Those numbers represent their gross income. What they keep, after expenses (tires, transmissions, oil changes, insurance, etc) is their profit.

The profit data from all the school bus drivers isn’t public knowledge. 

But School Board member Deana Parsick handles the taxes for six drivers through her Tax Diva Services business in Ava. She got permission to publish their after-expenses profit amounts at the June, 2019 school board meeting.

That document shows the highest after-expense income (profit) earned in 2018 by an Ava school bus driver was $18,7610. The lowest was $2773. The average profit across all six was $10,651.

Color me skeptical, but I can’t imagine the bus drivers not covered in that document earn, on average, $42,000 per year more in profit than their counterparts (enough to make more than the 26-year teaching veteran).

Second, the numbers notwithstanding, is the attitude.

Have you ever seen the PBS show Downton Abbey?

If you haven’t, it’s described as “follow(ing) the lives of the  British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the family’s Edwardian country house.” The series is available on DVD from the Douglas County Library. 

The characters are from both the upper class and lower class. Literally, in one sense. The servants work mostly downstairs while the family lives up stairs. Socially as well. The servants rarely talk to or interact with the family members. A family member appearing in the kitchen causes immediate disruption and fear among the servants.

I’m not sure how historically accurate the show is. The tension between servants and masters wasn’t surprising.  What was surprising is the tension between the ranks of the servants. 

A first footman wants to be a valet. Enough to sabotage another employee’s work. The under-butler doesn’t like to serve the former chauffeur who “married up.” One maid is jealous of another maid wanting to learn to type.

Entitlement is often the core issue. 

“I deserve that job more than he does.” “He shouldn’t be in that position.” “Who does she think she is?”

We don’t live in Britain. It’s not common to have servants. Feudalism didn’t take root in the US.

But entitlement?

Unfortunately, it persists.

Here’s the harsh reality of the market-based economy that we live in: neither education nor experience entitles you to a higher level of income.

It generally works out that way, sure. 

But it’s not guaranteed. 

It’s not hard to find examples of successful people without college degrees. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Oprah.

And it’s not hard to find examples of people “underwater” on their college degrees. The Foundation for Economic Education recently published a study indicating that 41.3% of recent college graduates are underemployed.

The guy making your coffee may have a Masters Degree in Finance. And that vapid “social media influencer” with an Instagram account instead of a degree may have just signed a million-dollar advertising deal.

That’s how the market works.

Teachers should be paid what they are worth. And school bus contractors should be paid what they are worth. 

But it’s unfair to base the compensation of one group on either the educational or experiential requirements of the other. 

Because that’s not how the market works.