The Orange County Register today confirmed for its readers what we had already told our readers last month: that the Santa Ana daily intends to publish the names, work locations and salaries of employees at 27 local school districts and the county Department of Education.
That would involve 72,000 workers if the Register were not excluding those earning less than $25,000 a year, facing safety threats and other narrowly defined concerns. Under those provisions, the Reg database will include about 37,000 employees.
Look for it in two weeks, writes education editor William Diepenbrock, who graciously explained the project to the Weekly in an email.
In Diepenbrock's message to Register readers today, he concedes the project has been met with resistance, consternation--even lawsuit threats. He writes:
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Some have argued that we shouldn't release names along with salaries, that it poses an unnecessary invasion of privacy. They suggest we should stick to salary schedules or reports of base salaries paid. Some have threatened lawsuits should someone use the data for criminal purposes. Some have suggested we release our salaries as a pledge of our sincerity.
In the past, we have reported on base salaries, even adjusting them for regional cost-of-living differences so we could compare across the U.S. But those figures fall short - sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars - of the actual compensation some school employees earn thanks to advanced degrees, longevity and extra duties.
As for our salary information, we are employees in private industry. As such, our salaries are already known to our stakeholders - those who own and manage our company.
Some privacy concerns did move us, though, and we offered to exclude some employees who faced serious, documented risks to their safety. We discuss those exclusions more fully below.
We will also print only those salaries of $25,000 and above - aside from school board members - which cuts our database to about 37,000 employees.
The information will be trickled out in a series of stories, informs Diepenbrock, who softens the blow by getting all mom-and-apple-pie-ish about public school workers.
"School employees," he writes, "perform one of the most critical tasks in our society. They educate and keep safe our children, beset often by challenges stemming from growing class sizes, shrinking resources and a multitude of responsibilities that extend beyond simply conveying grammar, math, history and science to our children."
Well, when you put it like that, teachers should be itching to expose to the world information the rest of us can keep private.