Far-right activists as well as even a few mainstream journalists have made wild claims about how much Chicago’s teachers earn. Nightline’s Terry Moran even claimed that the Chicago Teachers Union is doing “much damage” to the profession by striking, and then went on to say that teachers in the city earn an average of $74,000.

That just isn’t true. To fact check this claim, I went to the best source available to the public: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has data from May 2011 for the Chicago metropolitan area that breaks down the average salary for teachers. Across the profession, teachers in the area were earning an average salary of $56,720. Keep in mind that a median salary would probably be a more accurate picture of what teachers actually earn (veteran teacher salaries will be dragging the number upwards) but that this number is not available. The number is also dragged upward because a number of university staff are included in this calculation (they earn more than public school teachers). We spoke with a BLS official earlier today to confirm the veracity of these numbers.

If you look at the different subsets of teachers, some earn as little an average salary as $44,480 (foreign language teachers). Ai??Also keep in mind that the cost of food and living is well above the U.S. average in Chicago.

The only way Chicago’s teachers and students will win this struggle is by not letting misinformation turn the tide of public opinion.Ai??Use the Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit buttons on this page to spread the word. (Thanks to labor journalist Doug Henwood for pointing us in the right direction to look for these figures.)