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SF Catholic Schools Hoping to Raise Teacher Pay 10% to Compete with Public School Raises

South Dakota’s Catholic schools are feeling the pressure to pay their teachers what they are worth. Sioux Falls Catholic Schools Foundation exec Michelle Katen is hoping to raise money to boost salaries at O’Gorman at the rest of the Queen City’s Catholic schools proportionately to the boost public school teachers will get:

Katen’s goal is to see a 10 percent salary increase for Catholic school teachers this fall.

“We do an amazing job of fundraising for brick and mortar and buildings, and it’s now time to take care of our living stones,” Katen said.

Catholic school teachers have historically made less than their public school counterparts.

The average teacher pay for the Catholic schools in the city is $36,575, which was below the state average even before the pay increases approved earlier this year.

South Dakota’s average teacher pay moves up to $48,500 this year, and even with the 10 percent increase Catholic school teachers will make less than $40,000 annually [Megan Raposa, “Catholic Schools Work to Keep Salaries Competitive,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.05.10].

Raposa makes two math errors in that last statement. First, South Dakota’s average teacher pay does not move up to $48,500 this year. $48,500 is the target salary specified in the new funding formula enacted in Senate Bill 131. The $60.4 million appropriated by the state from the new half-penny sales tax of House Bill 1182 in strict accordance with the SB 131 formula can raise statewide average teacher pay no more than around $46,500.

Second, if the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools raise pay 10%, their new average salary will be $40,233.

That 10% raise won’t do much to improve the Catholic schools’ competitiveness in the labor market. If their average teacher salary is $36,575 right now, they are at 77% of the average salary I calculate for the Sioux Falls school district. If the Catholics give their teachers 10% raises, they’ll match the approximately 10% raise Sioux Falls public school teachers are getting, which means they’ll still be making just a bit more than three-fourths what their colleagues get.

Hmm… if a private education is more valuable to its customers than a public school education, shouldn’t the folks providing that education be making more than their public competitors? The market seems to be working in reverse in that situation.


  1. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    “Hmm… if a private education is more valuable to its customers than a public school education, shouldn’t the folks providing that education be making more than their public competitors? The market seems to be working in reverse in that situation.”

    Whenever government becomes involved in a market, such as education, then there is no free market. In this case, those sending their children to private schools is also paying the cost to send kids to public schools. This is a violation of the First Amendment. But since the Bill of Rights were destroyed by the 14th Amendment, the pagan religion is allowed to be established by the government. The deception is that the pagan religion is called “secular”.

    The reason the private schools can not afford to pay their teachers more, is because they are paying taxes that funds their competition. The issue of “value” becomes irrelevant in a socialist economy. You get what you are given.

  2. owen 2016-05-11

    “In this case, those sending their children to private schools is also paying the cost to send kids to public schools”

    As usual you’re wrong Steve. People that send their kids to private school CHOOSE to do that. The right to go to a public school is not being taken away.

    The kid up in Watertown that threatened his classmates at the Lutheran high school-guess where he’ll end up? In the public school.

  3. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    Owen, the parents who don’t their daughters exposed to men wearing dresses may “choose” private schools. That does not mean that they can “choose” to stop paying taxes that fund the public schools.

  4. owen 2016-05-11

    So Steve you mean then that I should subsidies these parents who choose to send their kids to the private school?

  5. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    No Owen. Parents should pay for only the school they send their children.

  6. Darin Larson 2016-05-11

    Steve, why should I have to pay for the construction costs, upkeep and maintenance of roads that I do not use? If Cory rides his bike everywhere why do his taxes have to go to pay for roads? Why do I have to help pay for the military costs of defending oil supplies in the Middle East? Why do taxpayers that don’t have any children have to pay taxes that go to support schools?

    Answer to all the questions: for the good of our country and because it is our responsibility as citizens

    What kind of a world would we live in here in the USA if we didn’t have the public education system? Most people are concerned about the demise of the middle class now and you want to undermine the public education system that allows much of the upward mobility of our society.

  7. Kurt Evans 2016-05-11

    “Conservative” Dennis Daugaard: Spending more than a hundred million dollars of our tax money driving Christian schools toward bankruptcy and preventing new ones from opening.

    “Conservative” Dennis Daugaard: Fomenting a massive and vicious backlash against any principled pro-liberty Christians who dare to oppose him.

    This year’s presidential race demonstrates the effectiveness of our Darwin-worshiping public education system. You can guess it’s probably a lousy product when you offer it for “free” and thousands of Christian families choose to live their entire lives at a substantially lower socioeconomic status rather than accepting that product.

  8. MC 2016-05-11

    I’m going to muddy the waters a bit.

    Not every student can be home schooled, and not every parent can teach. For some parents, private school is just not an option, for other families private school is preferred. The decision for which schooling option is best is not ours to make.

    Why would parents pay to teach their children at home or pay to send their kids to a private school? Don’t some of their tax dollars go to pay for public education? The answer is simple. They have lost faith in the public education system. They place a premium on their children’s education.

    Why would teachers work for less in the private school than a public school? Maybe because they are fed up with the public education system? Maybe, just maybe, they want to teach students to think, rather than how to take standard tests. I bet they enjoy seeing the light go on when a student learns something totally new. Maybe if public schools take some lessons from the home schoolers and the private schools this wouldn’t be a problem

    To answer Darin’s questions The reason non-parents pay taxes for schools is so the community as whole is more educated and more productive.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-11

    Fascinating and reasonable, MC’s response about other factors counting toward compensation for work well done. However, our state has coasted too long pretending that other factors made up for low pay, and now our state has reaped a teacher shortage that has required a sudden and significant tax increase that is only a first step toward rectifying our long neglect. The Catholic schools have benefited from our own public neglect, being able to pay their teachers even than South Dakota’s cheater wages. There may be other factors, but a lot of those other factors don’t pay the mortgage. Just as every parent can’t afford to give up income to provide the home schooling they wish they could give, not every teacher can afford to take a huge pay cut just for fewer standardized tests, less bureaucracy, more autonomy, or the chance to pray with students on class time. And when schools public or private choose to pay teachers less than what they are worth and count on other non-monetary factors to make up the difference, they deny themselves and their students the greatest selection possible from the talent pool.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-11

    Steve, wrong. We do not violate the First Amendment by levying taxes to provide public goods from which all citizens benefit. We violate the First Amendment by subsidizing religious schools with tax dollars (Phyllis Heineman’s SB 159, coming soon to a Catholic school near you).

  11. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    “The reason non-parents pay taxes for schools is so the community as whole is more educated and more productive.”

    “We do not violate the First Amendment by levying taxes to provide public goods from which all citizens benefit.”

    The reason parents pay more to home school or send their kids to private school is because they want their kids to have an “education”, not an indoctrination to a religious worldview they disagree with. Same thing happened with the Baptists, who paid the “church tax” to the Church of England, but then paid extra to support their Baptist Church. James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and others used that example to argue the need for the First Amendment. Cory, you are historically wrong.

    Public education does not benefit the common good. It provides subsidized training for the corporate capitalists. The “common good” argument has been co-opted by liberal socialists. The liberal corporate capitalists are the one benefiting the most from the new political/economic model that has replaced the original model.

    Anybody want to argue that the private schools do not provide the same benefit to society that public schools provide? Don’t Christians have the same set of “work skills” that others have?

  12. O 2016-05-11

    Steve: “Parents should pay for only the school they send their children.”

    The whole idea of being able to “choose” the taxes we support and those we do not is infinitely regressive. I “choose” not to use ethanol mixed gas, do I then get to not pay taxes for the ethanol subsidy? I did not have deposits in all the banks that failed; do I get a refund for my taxes that went to that bail-out? I “choose” not to go to jail, so do I get to stop paying the taxes that go toward incarceration?

    Taxes are not ala carte.

  13. mike from iowa 2016-05-11

    Parents that want their kids to attend private/religious schools and expect the state to pay are asking for “special” rights they accuse libs of wanting for LBGT humans.

  14. mike from iowa 2016-05-11

    It provides subsidized training for the corporate capitalists.

    Put the blame where it belongs- on politicians and lobbyists- not the under appreciated public school teachers.

  15. O 2016-05-11

    MC, you are probably correct that some teachers lost faith in the public system and turned to the private, but the implication that public schools do not have learning, critical thinking, innovation, and opportunity beyond standardized test taking is wrong. If tossing around misguided generalizations, then the religious environment would be the MOST contrite to critical thinking (especially if using the Old Testament to teach science).

    If I had to really point to one generality that privates have going for them, it is the sense of community that most foster (from a greater sense of parental involvement). Too often the public option is a “dump and forget” option for parents. The public school too often becomes the substitute for parental involvement in the child’s life – not a supplement.

  16. leslie 2016-05-11

    sibby-bullpuckey. you are so far out of the mainstream that you probably think home schoolers who worked for NASA faked the moon landing.

    many home school parents I know are angry right wing religionists. talk about indocrtrination. I personally witnessed it with a young son not too long ago who was disrespectful yet echoed precisely his parents vitriolic comments about Hillary and Nancy, “those bitches”. made me very sad as I care for this young man, having watched him grow up from the beginning. and he is quite talented. I spoke of him here before mentioning his locker full of AR-15s he is quite proud of.

    home school-the source of ever-narrowing world view.

  17. Joseph Nelson 2016-05-11

    We home school, and that is because we think it is the best educational option for our children. I am leery of public school, mainly because of the trend in public schools to shift with the winds of popular culture, as well as a focus on the job starved economy, churning out workers instead of thinkers.

    You want the true test of public education in South Dakota? Lets see how many South Dakotans vote for Trump, and you will have your answer.

  18. O 2016-05-11

    Joseph, just to be clear, a vote for Trump points to solid education or lacking education?

  19. Joseph Nelson 2016-05-11

    To clarify, a vote for Trump points to, or highlights, the quality of public education in South Dakota.

    If the purpose of public education in South Dakota is to develop the intelligence and morality of its citizens in an effort to provide a stable republican form of government, and the majority of those publicly educated people vote for Trump, I would say that the State of South Dakota and its teachers, administrators, and bureaucrats have failed in that purpose.

  20. O 2016-05-11

    Joseph, looking ahead to the general election, are you of the belief that a greater proportion of publicly educated voters will vote for Trump than private/home educated voters will? I’ll take that bet.

  21. Joseph Nelson 2016-05-11

    Considering it is very likely that the vast majority of the people voting in South Dakota this fall, ages 18 to dead, were public schooled, I think I will win. AH, but if you want to play with proportions, it is not a fair comparison, as private schools and home schools have different missions, and are not singularly guided by the SD Department of Education.

  22. owen reitzel 2016-05-11

    “Parents should pay for only the school they send their children.”
    @Steve. What if parents can’t afford to pay to send their kids to school? Tough luck?

    I respect people who home school and those that send their kids to private schools. That is their choice. But in know way should I have to pay for their choice.
    Public schools take all kids.

  23. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    “But in know way should I have to pay for their choice.”

    But you have no problem making them pay for your choice. Why do you covet from those who have less than you, but manage to home school their children?

  24. Steve Sibson 2016-05-11

    “you are so far out of the mainstream”

    Thanks for the compliment leslie. Nice not to follow the deceived crowd.

  25. owen reitzel 2016-05-11

    Steve because my choice is open to everyone. My choice takes in kids that private schools kick out.

    And you didn’t answer my question Steve. What if somebody can’t afford to pay for school?

    By the way teachers don’t “indoctrinate” any students. If you’d spend any time out of your bunker you’d see that.

  26. Roger Cornelius 2016-05-11

    I worry about Steve Sibson.

  27. grudznick 2016-05-11

    Mr. C, you shouldn’t worry about Sibby. He’s been like that for a very, very long time. Unless he moves to our town, then worry.

  28. barry freed 2016-05-12

    Teachers don’t indoctrinate?

    If one in Rapid City doesn’t wear a red shirt on DARE Friday, they can expect a meeting with the Principal. Indoctrinate is the perfect description.

  29. Steve Sibson 2016-05-12

    “And you didn’t answer my question Steve. What if somebody can’t afford to pay for school?”

    I did answer it. If home schoolers can find a way, then anybody can find a way. If it is due to some unavoidable bad luck, there are plenty of places where people are willing to help. What’s wrong Owen, you don’t trust people?

  30. Kal Lis 2016-05-12

    I am not taking the heat for South Dakota Republicans voting for the Republican nominee. To paraphrase former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards: the only way a Republican is going to lose South Dakota’s 3 electoral votes is by openly admitting to enjoying necrophilia or bestiality.

    In this election, a Republican’s chances are increased because the Democratic candidate may be the only Democrat that South Dakota Republicans despise more than they despise President Obama.

    More importantly, voting is not a rational act. In 1920 H.L Mencken wrote, “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost… All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

    Mencken was a little clearer in 1926, “No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

    As a teacher, I am willing to take the blame for things in my control, but not for inexorable trends that started before my father was born and have been exacerbated by cynical hype meisters that have far greater reach than any single teacher will ever have.

  31. Troy 2016-05-13

    Coming to this discussion late, I have some random comments:

    1) People choose to work for various employers for a host of reasons which results in not choosing the highest pay. My daughter is one such teacher who is happy with her choice to teach at Sioux Falls Catholic Schools and fully understands doing so adversely impacts her income.

    2) One of the most vocal and committed advocates of keeping tuition low are SFCS teachers. And, they understand the impact of not raising tuition has on their salaries.

    3) While Owen’s comment (“People that send their kids to private school CHOOSE to do that. The right to go to a public school is not being taken away”) is correct, it doesn’t negate the correctness of Steve’s comment. Parents who send their kids to private school pay for school twice. For many families who make this choice, their capacity to pay tuition is often times a big sacrifice- a second job, forgoing new cars and vacations, eating out, cost-sharing tuition with their high school age kids.

    4) Maybe my above comments answer CH’s last question but it deserves the repetition to a specific. Every parent is so grateful of the sacrifice SFCS teachers make in more than just salary but also their dedication and love they give their students. And, no matter how much we express this gratitude, it is taken with humility and in a way dismissed. Their vocation as a teacher is in their minds a simple inadequate gift back to their Lord, Jesus Christ. And, when they feel/acknowledge that sacrifice, they bear it in imitation their Lord who carried a cross for them.

    5) Many parents and grandparents whose kids never will attend public schools supported the tax increase for public school teachers. They fully understood this support was going to result in a triple whammy (higher taxes, higher tuition, and a need to dig deeper with regard to their donations). As Owen’s comment belies, I doubt there will be any pats on their back for willingness to support the education of all kids. And, I that is ok. When doing the right thing, one shouldn’t expect praise. But, what makes me sad is so many who only think about public education don’t acknowledge that the sacrifice of non-public school students saves the taxpayers over $150million in local and state taxes (plus more classrooms would have to be built for at public expense) every year (or prevents cuts in other government programs).

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