Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Are teachers overpaid?

Big Ed is most definitely ripping us off...
The biggest consumer ripoff in America today -- and the next economic bubble to burst -- is higher education.

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)
Closer to home, are primary and secondary teachers overpaid?

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. 

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)
They conclude by explaining how teachers' benefits are far superior what non-public sector workers receive. Here's a link to the study.

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.

36 comments:

Always On Watch said...

God knows you could not pay me enough to put up with what our public school educators must endure on a daily basis.

And that's why I left the public education system in 1977.

Actually, I didn't leave voluntarily. When I categorically refused to give the star football player a "C" (his average was in the 30% range, and he cut the midterm exam), I was forced out. At the same time, I was seeing tenured teachers doing zippo as far as real teaching goes. Furthermore, there were several pedophiles on the faculty; they remained on the faculty until retirement.

As a result of my decision to leave the public education system, I've taken a huge financial hit. In private education, those with teaching experience typically garner 1/2 to 1/3 less that the area's salary for first-year teachers. In Northern Virginia, the starting salary for teachers is in the range of $45,000/year.

BTW, when we're discussing teacher salaries, we should also be looking at the benefits packages, the funding of which is on the taxpayers' backs.

Real teaching is WORK! In my view, real teaching means diagnostic and prescriptive teaching. That kind of teaching cannot happen until a teacher has experience AND unless a decent disciplinary system in in force.

Jack Camwell said...

Although teachers get holidays and the summer off (many summers are filled with conferences and summer jobs for teachers), during the school year they put in an awful lot of hours of work.

Most people with similar levels of education generally don't have to constantly take their work home with them. They also don't have an administration breathing down their neck to coach or coordinate some sort of extra-cirricular activity.

Teachers work 8 hour days and have to come home to papers to grade, lessons to plan, etc.. It's not easy. Imagine you're a history teacher and you've got 200 mid-term exams to grade in a week, on top of whatever other assignments you had to give.

And then imagine that you're doing all of this work for kids who generally don't care, and for parents who will likely blame you for their kids' failure.

Are all teachers quality teachers? No. The standards in education programs have been lowered over the years because there's been shortages of teachers. Why are we short on teachers? Because it's hard to get the smart people to take so much crap from society and get paid peanuts to do it.

Spoiler alert: money is not the answer. If you want teachers to stop sucking, then we need to push for higher standards in universities for their education majors. Where I went to college, you only had to maintain a 2.5 GPA to stay in the education department. You might not realize it, but a 2.5 is pretty low.

Anyway, going the merit pay route is not going to make better teachers. Hell, threatening to fire bad teachers is not going to make better teachers.

Example (and AOW's information sort of corroborates this): Private school teachers generally get paid less than public school teachers. I went to a Catholic school where the teachers were the lowest paid in the entire Columbus diocese. Even with a college prep academic program, high standards, and a tougher grading scale (93-100 is an A. 85-92 is a B and so on), the school has boasted a 100% graduation rate for years. The students score really well on their SAT's and such, and in my graduating class, 90% of us went on to college, and 80% of them received scholarship money.

The quality of teacher has little or nothing to do with how much they're getting paid.

bunkerville said...

A 180 day work year sound ok to me. Many of us work more than an 8/40 week. Enough of how abused they are. Just saying IMO.

98ZJUSMC said...

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

Absolutely, and a lot of good teachers being pummeled into submission for not toeing the "correct" ideological line.

Teresa said...

Personally, I don't think most teachers are overpaid. I do agree that teachers unions protect the bad teachers from accountability. I also think the school administrators are the ones who are overpaid.

I think one week off per season would be a good idea. That would include what they normally get off for holidays nowadays.

98ZJUSMC said...

Jack Camwell said...
I went to a Catholic school where the teachers were the lowest paid in the entire Columbus diocese. Even with a college prep academic program, high standards, and a tougher grading scale (93-100 is an A. 85-92 is a B and so on), the school has boasted a 100% graduation rate for years. The students score really well on their SAT's and such, and in my graduating class, 90% of us went on to college, and 80% of them received scholarship money.


As did I. Recent studies in the Chicagoland area confirm this, statistically. Parochial schools consistently out-preform public schools, by a fairly wide margin, and do so at a much reduced cost per pupil.

Jack Camwell said...

Like I said, many if not most teachers get summer jobs. The point is not how hard they work, but the fact that people who don't have to work that much with similar education and experience get paid way more to do it.

Also, many people who work more than 40 hours a week get over-time for it. Teachers are on salary, so . . .

It's fairly asinine that there are so many people willing to say that teachers have it easy when they clearly have no idea how much of a committment to underappreciative people it entails.

I'm actually working to get my teaching license (don't worry, my degree is in history and political science, not education), and I'm so looking forward to parents blaming me for their idiot children and their failure to work hard enough to get good grades.

Jack Camwell said...

And by the way, I agree that the teacher's unions are ridiculous.

Silverfiddle said...

I know a few private school(Catholic school) teachers, and they do get paid less, but they all say it's worth it. The kids want to be there, the parents are involved and the bureaucratic overhead is minimal compared to public schools.

Again, I say privatize it all.

Z said...

I'm involved with a private Christian high school and our teachers say "it's well worth it" about their lower wages.
One 16 1/2 yr old student told me "Mrs. Z, I went to a private elementary and middle school, then my parents put me in a public junior high school and I knew that if I stayed there, I'd never get to college....!" She's at our very strenuous university-oriented high school for the last four years and has thrived with great grades and having had big roles in our drama and Spring musicals.
When the kids recognize the state of public schools, I'd say that's a big warning.

When we can get rid of bad teachers, the good ones might have a more deserved good reputation and wages could rise.

Anonymous said...

Here it is in a nutshell:

A) EVERYBODY is overpaid

B) EVERYBODY is overtaxed

C) EVERYBODY is overcharged

D) EVERYBODY expects too much out of life


Tax less, charge less, pay less, envy no one, and things would soon right themselves.

Too bad -- thanks to the blandishments of Progressivism -- thinking of this sort must now be relegated to the realm of Dream-Wish-Fantasy.

Our anger, our grasping nature, our insolence and our vainly imagining that our precious little selves should somehow be EXEMPT from heartache, illness, unfair treatment, disappointment, suffering, grief and mortality are the cause of most of our troubles.

The insistence that we always deserve better, and always deserve more, when in fact we're damned lucky just to be alive and to have anything at all is why our nature is considered "Fallen" by those who want to believe the Bible.

There are substantial practical reasons why Envy is regarded as one of the Seven Deadly Sins. It infects everyone it touches with misery, discontent and an unhealthy measure of spite and the lust for revenge.
Envy is evil.

Learn to love more and be content with less. Be ambitious only to increase and perfect your store of skill, knowledge an understanding. Use your strength and skill to help others lead happier, easier, more productive lives.

Keeping up with the Joneses, wearing Designer clothes, driving expensive cars, keeping up with the latest trends, acquiring status symbols, acquiring more and more electronic gadgetry , faster computers, more complex cell phones, bigger TV's, whirlpool bath tubs, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances,-- learn to recognize ALL of it for the seductively meretricious inessential CRAP is really is.

Love, Loyalty, Honesty, Devotion, Learning, Skill, Sharing, Caring, Decency are al that really matter. Everything else is Vanity.

Just remember Dickens' description of The Cratchit's Christmas Feast, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

~ FreeThinke

Jack Camwell said...

Yes, most private school teachers happily take the lower salary for a better quality school environment.

But I think it's ridiculous that it's at the point now where they have to take a salary hit just to work in a school that doesn't suck.

And FT, it's not wrong to want to live a comfortable life where you're free to do as you please and be happy. It's not about envy or wanting more stuff, it's about getting what you deserve. Teachers, good teachers anyway, deserve a whole hell of a lot more than what they get.

Some of them make really good money, but those are usually the ones with graduate degrees and 15+ years of teaching. That's 15 years of dealing with horrible kids and their equally as horrible parents.

republicanmother said...

I pay around $1000 a year to educate my three kids via homeschooling. I don't get a salary or a pension, but the point is that it doesn't take a whole lot in material things to educate a child.

When you calculate in benefits, public school teachers do get paid more than others. However, there isn't enough money in the world to get me to teach public school.

Ducky's here said...

If you want better teachers, pay them less. Makes a certain right wing sort of sense.

Call them lazy and useless at every possible opportunity to raise morale.

Question: Before we blame the union, why are teachers in countries with strong unions respected and successful?

Why don't we answer that?

Jack Camwell said...

Because those countries actually expect their children to be challenged. In America, we expect our children to pass.

Jersey McJones said...

So, Letiticia, are you saying we should be more like the Chinese?

For Christ's sake - you screwballs really do want to go back to the Dark Ages, in every friggin' way, huh?

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

If you want better teachers, pay them less. Makes a certain right wing sort of sense.

Call them lazy and useless at every possible opportunity to raise morale.


I said no such thing.

Question: Before we blame the union, why are teachers in countries with strong unions respected and successful?

What Jack said. Other countries actually demand performance out of their governments, apparently.

Try again, Ducky...

Ducky's here said...

Well Jack, I don't have children but my brother died very young and I had a lot of involvement with them.

Yo may expect yours to pass but that's not what I expected from my nieces.

One is a teacher

One has her own fashion design business

One is a single mom working retail and getting ready to begin college.
I'm fortunate that I can assist her.

I don't know where you live but education in Massachusetts is in pretty good shape and competitive with the rest of the world (proven by international testing) and we have a strong teachers union.

And yes, we do have charter schools here and they show no improvement over neighborhood schools even though they can self select and avoid language, discipline and special needs issues.

Try again, Silverfiddle. The situation isn't as dire as you predict although for low income kids who have few prospects it's an immense task to motivate them. Especially the way sex is pushed in popular culture and drugs so readily available.

What you might want to try is dealing with the matter of excess equity in the top range. Blocks job production and social mobility.
How do we know we have excess? Equity bubbles, it can't get an immediate high return investing in something like education.

But just blame teachers, many of whom have no respect and a tough job. You don't solve jackshit, you don't have to do any hard thinking and you never have to abandon von Mise. It's the fringe right wing way.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: I'm not blaming teachers. Keep swingin' at those strawmen!

Jack Camwell said...

Ducky,
That was certainly not a reflection on my sentiment, but rather a commentary on American society as a whole. The problem with American education is that most people care more about the kids passing than they care about the kids actually being challenged and getting a quality education.

I live in Columbus, and Columbus City School district is an academic wasteland, a nightmare. It's where kid's go to intellectually die. Funny thing is, every time a levy is on the ballot it passes, and the schools get tons of money. Yet the district as a whole has a less than 60% high school graduation rate.

More money is needed, right?

I care very much about my children's education, which is why even on my meager wages I make the sacrifices to send them both to private school.

Take a look at cirriculum strength over the years in American public schools. You'll see that the cirriculum and the standards have declined since the 1950's.

Why do private school students perform better than public school students, yet less is being spent to educate them? Because their parents actually care about them succeeding in life and value a quality education.

Making education better in America will never go anywhere until the movement starts in the home.

Ducky's here said...

Jack, no doubt there are school systems that are disaster zones (Detroit?). This morning the papers ran a story that the Lawrence Mass. school system is going into state receivership.

Now Lawrence is a complete disaster are. It isn't just the school system. 20% unemployment, drugs, most don't speak English, poverty -- they don't see much of a future and teachers are hamstrung trying to educate a class of students that don't care to be educated.

But they are mandated to try.

In the meantime I maintain that as long as this society continues to allow the massive transfer of wealth upward we are just blowing smoke out of our collective ass. The situation will worsen regardless of how much we spend.

So this money we spend on education. Just stop and reduce the upper decile's taxes.
Or instead of doing it the von Mise way we can just put a gun to our collective head.

Silverfiddle said...

In the meantime I maintain that as long as this society continues to allow the massive transfer of wealth upward we are just blowing smoke out of our collective ass. The situation will worsen regardless of how much we spend.

Yes. Rich people need to stop confiscating the wealth of the poor...

They've been doing it since eternity. You'd think the poor would be tapped out by now...

Silverfiddle said...

Now, if you want to end the taxpayer love triangle between big government, big business and big labor, I'm all for that.

Z said...

We all tell first-hand experiences of excellent teachers happy to take less pay for much better work environments and Ducky's assessment of that is we think it makes sense to pay teachers less.

The fun never quits.

Anonymous said...

They don't call it Dialectical MATERIALISM for nothing, do they?


Money makes the world go around
...the world go around
...the world go around.
Money makes the world go around
It makes the world go 'round.


A mark, a yen, a buck or a pound
...a buck or a pound
...a buck or a pound.
Is all that makes the world go around
That clinking, clanking sound...
Can make the world go 'round


Money money money money
Money money money money
Money money money...


If you happen to rich
And you feel like a night's entertainment
You can pay for a gay escapade.
If you happen to be rich and alone
And you need a companion
You can ring (ting-a-ling) for the maid.
If you happen to be rich
And you find you are left by your lover,
And you moan and you groan quite a lot
You can take it on the chin,
Call a cab and begin to recover
On your 14-karat yacht! WHAT!?


Money makes the world go around
...the world go around
...the world go around.
Money makes the world go around
Of that we both are sure...
*raspberry sound* on being poor!


Money money money money
Money money money money
Money money money...


When you haven't any coal in the stove
And you freeze in the winter
And you curse to the wind at your fate.
When you haven't any shoes on your feet,
Your coat's thin as paper,
And you look 30 pounds underweight
When you go to get a word of advice
From the fat little pastor,
He will tell you to love evermore.
But when hunger comes to rap,
rat-a-tat rat-a-tat at the window
*knock knock* (at the window)
Who's there? (hunger) oh, hunger!!
See how love flies out the door...


For, money makes the world go around
...the world go around
...the world go around.
Money makes the world go 'round
The clinking, clanking sound of...
Money money money money
Money money money money...
Get a little, get a little
Money money money money...
Mark, a yen, a buck or a pound,
That clinking, clanking, clunking sound,
Is all that makes the world go 'round,
It makes the world go 'round!


~ Kandor & Ebb - Cabaret

Submitted by FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Z, you made a great point in your last post.

Touché!

~ FreeThinke

liberaldude said...

Yup privatize education and Exxon/Mobile can re-write Science books, let the Koch Brothers re-write History books.

Think people. Think.

liberaldude said...

Charter School jerry rig their success stories by cherry picking the the better students and constantly ejecting those who are failing. Isn't education about teaching everyone to succeed?

Finntann said...

A few observations:

Ducky is correct, Massachussetts has an excellent public education system. When moving from Mass to New Mexico my kids were all way ahead of the NM public education curriculum.

The school district I live in has an online electronic campus where you can see assignments, due dates, missing work, etc. I noticed a direct correlation between the quality of the teachers and the effort they put forth on the online campus. The classes that my children did well in were the classes whose teachers religiously updated the online campus. The classes my kids had problems in were the classes in which the teachers only posted the assignments after they were due or didn't post them at all.

On the subject of the online campus I complained to many of the teachers directly during parent-teacher conferences, complained to the administration when nothing changed, and pulled my kids out of public school when the administration did nothing either.

The problem is that despite the fact that I withdrew my children from public school, the school suffers no ill effect, they continue to receive the same dollars from property tax levies. It is the equivalent of firing an incompentent plumber, but still having to pay him while you hire another. There is nothing at all to incentivize public educators into performing well.

The problem with government and public education is you can hardly ever get rid of the bad ones so long as they show up on time, clock out on time, and go through the motions, however incompetantly executed.

Cheers!

Ducky's here said...

z, I think you're sarcasm challenged.

Anonymous said...

I would agree to teach in a ghetto school only one condition -- that fully loaded machine gun on a turret was mounted on my desk -- and that I was escorted to and from work -- and through the halls at school -- by at least four uniformed, heavily armed city policemen.

~ FT

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot to mention the other condition of my ghetto employment -- a minimum salary of $250,000.00 per annum.

~ FT

Z said...

Ducky: Good try.
This isn't sarcastic, this is your typical insults "If you want better teachers, pay them less. Makes a certain right wing sort of sense."

This is sarcasm.

"Call them lazy and useless at every possible opportunity to raise morale."

Sorry if I embarrassed you ... but your twisting can't always go ignored.


FT...thanks.

KP said...

The subject of teachers is a great example of why the far left and far right will ever accomplish significant change without creating very negative political fallout.

Let me explain: teachers are no different than doctors/physicians or dozens of other professions. "Doctor" means teacher in Latin. There are less than great physicians/teachers and there are less than great educators/teachers. As well, there are poor working environs and there are great working environs.

In medicine, the best results per dollar are found at clinics and institutions like Mayo that reward physicians for performance and accuracy. Likewise, great results follow rewards for performance in education.

If you think these findings point toward limiting the powers of teachers union or limiting doctor owned hospitals and the powers of the AMA, I agree.

If you do not agree, I get that too. But these are valid discussions.

On point, there is significant evidence that our education system is broken. Maybe we need new models. Perhaps the teachers unions need to re-think what is best for the kids over administration. It’s coming.

As a health care provider I see it is already here. I am not bitching much because we need to fix the system. It is as hard to remove a physician’s license as it is a teaching credential. I say that is BULLSHIT!

Cuts at the top are crucial. How much of the national educational budget is administration.

Jack Camwell said...

Ducky,
I find a few things troubling with your statement. First off, Columbus, OH is doing relatively well compared to the rest of the nation economically. I think we've only got 8% unemployment, which is the current national average. In fact, Columbus was ranked one of the most economically savvy cities in the *world*, because of how little the recession has affected our overall economic well-being.

We're not the richest city in the world by any means, but we're certainly no Detroit. We've got some rough areas of town, but we're by no means a rotting city. Considering that we're not all poor and destitute, and considering that Columbus City Schools are very, very well funded, and the teachers are actually paid fairly decently, explain to me how money is the issue?

How much money was spent to educate Einstein? How about Nikola Tesla? Jefferson and Adams? Thomas Aquinas? Plutarch? Aristotle? Plato? How much money per pupil was spent to educate some of the greatest minds history has ever known? Did any of them have smart boards, or updated text books? Did their teachers have their licenses?

The notion that some districts are failing because there's not enough money being spent on the children is both ridiculous and false.

Money is not the cause/solution of every problem.

Anonymous said...

No school however well funded could succeed in making silk purses out of sow's ears.

A school can only be as good as the students it must teach. Pupils from bad backgrounds with low IQ's and no positive reinforcement from parents, siblings and peers are doomed to remain in the underclass.

Also, it's important to note that 60K in New York City doesn't go anywhere near as far as 40K goes in places like Fond du Lac, WIsconsin, Elgin, Illinois, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Salina, Kansas, or Jackson, Mississippi.

Location is more than half the battle.

Demographics accounts for most of the rest of it.

Reality can be very very cruel, but sooner or later it must be faced.

~ FreeThinke