The biggest consumer ripoff in America today -- and the next economic bubble to burst -- is higher education.Closer to home, are primary and secondary teachers overpaid?
Tuition and fees at colleges and universities rose 439 percent between 1982 and 2007. Median family income rose just 147 percent during that period.
Median household income has fallen 6.7 percent since June 2009. The cost of attending the average public university rose 5.4 percent this year. (Jack Kelly)
It's a complex question, and I'm not one of those who automatically say that they are. God knows you could not pay me enough to put up with what our public school educators must endure on a daily basis.
The Atlantic published an excellent article asking Are Teachers Paid Too Much? In it they cite four studies, two saying yes and two saying no. It's an short and interesting read.
Two scholars, one from American Enterprise Institute and the other from The Heritage Foundation conclude that Public School Teachers are not Underpaid.
Public school teachers do receive salaries 19.3% lower than similarly-educated private workers, according to our analysis of Census Bureau data. However, a majority of public school teachers were education majors in college, and more than two in three received their highest degree (typically a master's) in an education-related field. A salary comparison that controls only for years spent in school makes no distinction between degrees in education and those in biology, mathematics, history or other demanding fields.They conclude by explaining how teachers' benefits are far superior what non-public sector workers receive. Here's a link to the study.
Education is widely regarded by researchers and college students alike as one of the easiest fields of study, and one that features substantially higher average grades than most other college majors. On objective tests of cognitive ability such as the SAT, ACT, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and Armed Forces Qualification Test, teachers score only around the 40th percentile of college graduates. If we compare teachers and non-teachers with similar AFQT scores, the teacher salary penalty disappears. (WSJ)
Unleash The Market Forces!
My own conclusion, based on what I've read and the many conversations I've had with the many teachers I've known, is that the teachers unions are protecting too many overpaid bum teachers, the education bureaucracy is way too fat, and that results in the good teachers being underpaid.
The free marketplace has price signals and other market indicators that drive employee wages; the public sector does not. Also, companies must keep bureaucratic overhead to a minimum in order to remain competitive; government agencies feel no such pressure. This doesn’t make government jobs less worthwhile than those in the private sector, but it does lead us to endless arguments over what a public employee is worth.
Privatizing all education would end this controversy. Consumers (parents) voting with their dollars would quickly sort the wheat from the chaff and result in the superstar teachers getting the paychecks they deserve, while driving the bums out and into other fields of employment.