To the editor: The Times reports that full-time public school teachers in California earn an average of $84,899 a year, tacitly sending the message that teachers are overpaid. ("New database details pay of California public school employees," July 24)
This statistic comes from a convenience sample, which relies on voluntary data submissions and cannot produce an accurate average for a population. To broadcast it in a subheadline is a statistical embarrassment.
This convenience sample in particular has produced an inaccurate statistic because, according to the article, it leaves out data from the largest district in the state, L.A. Unified. According to the Daily News, the average LAUSD high school teacher salary is about $62,000.
It's simple: Incomplete data produce a distorted statistic. To use that to make a statement about teacher pay is simply wrong.
Isaac Harris, Culver City
To the editor: "Average" is a very suspect descriptive measure, influenced as it is by numbers at the extreme ends of the scale.
Though the article did make it clear that the data include roughly two-thirds of the state's school systems, it did not inform readers as to how many teachers were represented. Also, the average salary includes benefits and other compensation, inflating otherwise low to moderate salaries to make them appear almost respectable.
Readers may get the impression that teachers don't deserve a raise. L.A. Unified teachers haven't had a raise in seven years and in fact have lost money because of furlough days.
I think you have done hard working teachers an injustice.
Chuck Petithomme, Burbank