The State Journal-Register (Springfield)
CHICAGO - Driver's education teachers in Illinois are among
the longest tenured and highest paid in the state, with more
than one in 10 earning at least $100,000 a year, according
to an analysis of statewide data conducted by the Chicago
Full-time driver's education instructors earned an average
of $64,503, and more than 11 percent took home six-figure
salaries. Both figures were among the highest in the state,
the Tribune reported in a story published Sunday. The average
pay for all teachers in the 2002-03 school year was $50,537.
All teachers' earnings are driven largely by experience and
level of education, though compensation for coaching sports
and overtime for working weekends also was a factor in the
salaries of driver's education teachers.
According to the data, driver's education teachers average
about 21 years of experience more than instructors
who taught physics (15), biology (13) and civics (12). The
data includes only teachers whose main assignment is driver's
"There is something seriously wrong with driver's ed
teachers making so much money, based mainly on the fact that
they've been around for so long," said Jeanne Allen,
president of the Center for Education Reform in Washington.
"We should be looking at the areas with the most need,
the areas where it's hard to attract good teachers, and pay
them gobs of money.
"No one can tell me that a driver's ed teacher is as
valuable to a school as a good math or science teacher."
Mark Gruca believes they are.
A driving instructor in suburban Chicago, Gruca says driver's
education teachers work just as hard and are every bit as
valuable as instructors in other subjects. Gruca has taught
driver's education for 26 years and studied the subject in
"This is not a job that is free from stress," he
said. "I don't think it is healthy to pit one teaching
profession against one another. We all work hard. We all want
to make a difference in kids' lives. I don't know if any of
us get paid enough."
Mike Warner, assistant superintendent for instruction in
Glenbard Township High School District 87, said the district
does not alter pay on the basis of teaching assignment. The
district's driving teachers average about 18 years of experience
and make an average of $85,933. English teachers averaged
about 15 years and took home $69,428.
In Palatine, Township District 211 spent $1.6 million on
its 18 driver's education teachers - 11 of whom made more
than $100,000 last year, according to the state data.
Mason Minnes, president of the Illinois High School &
College Driver Education Association, said it's not uncommon
for instructors to begin their careers teaching other subjects
before switching to driver's education as they near retirement.
"It's a great career, very satisfying, and because of
that people don't want to leave once they get into it,"