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.