Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Are Public School Teachers Under Paid? – The Ideological Approach and The Data Driven Approach

Which One Do You Think Conservatives Embrace

Conservatives do not like public school teachers.  The reasons are obvious.  Public school teachers are employees of the government, and Conservatives do not like government and government employees.  Public employees tend to belong to unions, and are taking money that could otherwise be used to fund tax cuts.  Many, but not all public employees and teachers support Democrats.

So Conservatives must determine bad things about public school teachers.  For example, Conservatives must determine that public school teachers are over compensated, that they make too much rather than too little money.  Thus this article that appeared, wait for it, on the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Our research suggests that on average—counting salaries, benefits and job security—teachers receive about 52% more than they could in private business.

The “our” in this case are

Mr. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Mr. Richwine, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation

As if one could not have guessed.   These are two "research" organization whose findings always confirm Conservative prejudice.  Always.   And their logic starts out like this

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.

And if a reader can get by the arrogant and condescending attitude, that education is not a “demanding field” the comments basically say that teachers get 19.3% less than other college grads because they majored in education (which pays 19.3% less than other college grads).   Yeah, they would have had to, wouldn’t they?

But the writers go on to say how the great fringe benefits for teachers not only overcomes this 19.3% shortfall but pushes the advantage for teachers to 52% greater than they would get in the private sector.  Of course, if you work for the AEI or the Heritage Foundation your conclusions were already reached before you did one bit of research.  Research is useful only to the extent they can find enough data to support the pre-determined conclusions.

Competing with the idea that public teachers are overpaid is a news, not opinion report in the New York Times.

Teachers, Facing Low Salaries, Opt to Moonlight

The piece of actual news reports that

The number of public school teachers who reported holding a second job outside school increased slightly from 2003-04 to 2007-08. While there is no national data for more recent years, reports from individual states and districts indicate the number may have climbed further since the start of the recession.

In Texas, for example, the percentage of teachers who moonlight has increased from 22 percent in 1980 to 41 percent in 2010. . . .

In North Carolina, a survey conducted in 2007 found 72 percent of teachers moonlight, whether it's an after-school job or summer employment.

Somebody must have forgotten to tell those teachers who have to take a second, or second and third job that they are making 52% more than they would make if they were in the private sector.  Maybe this is part of the explanation

The average salary for a public school teacher nationwide in the 2009-10 school year was $55,350, a figure that has remained relatively flat, after being adjusted for inflation, over the last two decades. Starting teacher salaries can be significantly lower; compared to college graduates in other professions, they earn more than $10,000 less when beginning their careers.

As for the idea of American Exceptionalism, well in education America is exceptionally bad

In many nations where students outperform the U.S. in reading, math and science, including Japan and South Korea, teachers earn more than they do in the United States.

"International comparisons show that in the countries with the highest performance, teachers are typically paid better relative to others, education credentials are valued more, and a higher share of educational spending is devoted to instructional services than is the case in the United States," the OECD report concluded.
Maybe one explanation for the poor results in the U. S. is that teachers are not very smart. For example they may not realize just how much money they are making because they don’t read the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pieces from biased researchers at Conservative dominated and funded think tanks who make salaries and benefits in the six figure levels for producing research that denigrates public employees.  This teacher certainly doesn’t.

Michelle Hartman, a language arts and science teacher at a Plantation, Fla., elementary school, is balancing two other jobs, one as an organist with the local Presbyterian church, playing at church services, weddings and funerals, and another doing janitorial work twice a week at her father's accounting firm.

The single mother has a master's degree in educational leadership and has been a teacher 15 years. But she says she cannot afford to leave any of her extra jobs, which she said brings in about $6,000 year, in addition to her $46,000 teaching salary.

And Conservatives might say Michelle has an attitude problem

"I'm tired some days," Hartman said. "But no matter what, it doesn't matter because I know I need to be there for the students."

Because that doesn’t sound like someone who should have her compensation cut so that Florida can enact tax cuts for the wealthy.

1 comment:

  1. I think teachers need to be compensated a lot more considering the importance of their job. Not to mention the fact that they spend a lot of hours developing lesson plans and grading papers etc. It will be hard to retain quality teachers with lower salaries.