Mike Sparks thinks teachers are paid enough and wants a website so everyone can see

Jul 16, 2018 at 07:00 am by Michelle Willard

Mike Sparks

Tennessee State House Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, has an unpopular opinion. He thinks teachers are not underpaid.

"It seems like there's a misnomer out there that teachers are very low paid," Sparks said at the State House Education and Planning Subcommittee on March 6.

Sparks said this as he was promoting a bill that post salaries online so everyone can see just how much teachers make.

Well, guess what, Rep. Sparks. Rutherford County actually does put its salary schedule online.

For example, I found that a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree will be paid $40,140 (the state's minimum $35,000, plus $5,140 from the county). That same teacher will top out after 21 years at $56,798. A master's degree adds about $5,000 per year and a doctorate about $11,000. You can see it here.

For a full-time job.

With a degree.

That's compared to a state representative who makes a base salary of $22,667 and an "office allowance" of $1,000 per month. 

In 2018, the General Assembly was in session for a little over three months from Jan. 9 through April 27. That's 79 working days not counting weekends. Let's generously say Sparks worked 60 of those days, which means he got an additional $3,540 in per diem.

When added up Sparks has earned an estimated $38,000 this year for being a state representative. 

For a part-time job.

With no education required.

Oh, and he gets benefits like health insurance.

In Spark's defense, $40,000 is a lot more than Rutherford County's average income of $26,373 per year.

But that doesn't mean teachers are underpaid.

It means we all are.

Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics, true crime, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)murfreesborovoice.com.

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