Teachers Earn Too Much, Study Argues
November 2, 2011
By John O'Connor
Teachers are paid 52 percent more than their market value, according to a new study.
Teachers, did you know you are overpaid by 52%?
That’s the conclusion of a new study by conservative-leaning think tanks The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
Taxpayers, they conclude, are “overcharged” $120 billion each year from the difference in teacher salaries and compensation compared to similarly credentialed private sector workers. Teacher benefits are often far more generous than the private sector, the study notes.
Other conclusions from the study:
The wage gap between teachers and non-teachers disappears when both groups are matched on an objective measure of cognitive ability rather than on years of education.
Public-school teachers earn higher wages than private-school teachers, even when the comparison is limited to secular schools with standard curriculums.
Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent. This is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid.
The study reveals a divide among those pushing for changes in public schools.
Raising teacher salaries is a foundation of school reformers, which includes Republicans, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, and Democratic President Barack Obama. Better pay is more likely to attract better teaching candidates, they argue, and better teachers mean students will learn more.
Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee disagreed with the study, in a statement printed by Politico:
We can accomplish the goal of attracting and retaining the best teachers and be fiscally responsible at the same time by moving money out of bloated bureaucracies that doesn’t improve student learning and into the classroom where it can.