Thursday, November 3, 2011

New report: Teachers are overpaid

You may have heard that teachers, who spend seven hours a day with our community’s children and many more hours working on their behalf, are underpaid. But two prominent conservative think tanks have issued a new report saying teachers are actually way overpaid.
The American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation argue that when you consider benefits and job security, teachers are paid 52 percent more than fair market levels. That’s “$120 billion overcharged to taxpayers each year,” the report says. The report argues that comparing teachers to people with similar educational credentials is invalid because “teacher skills generally lag behind those of other workers with similar ‘paper’ qualifications.”
“Teacher compensation could therefore be reduced with only minor effects on recruitment and retention,” the authors say.
We know the best teachers are motivated more by personal and professional fulfillment than by big paychecks, but this is ridiculous.
UPDATE: The N.C. Association of Educators offers this context: Its Fund Schools First report released in March notes that North Carolina has dropped from 25th to 45th in the nation for average teacher salaries since the 2008-09 school year. In fact, North Carolina is at its lowest ranking in 64 years, since data first began being collected.
What do you think?

-- Taylor Batten


Anonymous said...

Don't the "Education" majors typically come from the bottom 1/4 of the college students?

I'm talking about their SAT/GRE scores.

I don't think they are the best and the brightest.

Alex said...

Coming from two "think tanks" that have a vested agenda in undervaluing the worker class in general, these "findings" are a joke.

Larry said...

Yes we do seem to overpay in this country:

Below are the Sports things we follow and the Millions they make every year.

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
Last Year's Rank: 1

Tiger's empire has crumbled, but Rome wasn't built in a day. His Nike and EA deals still keep him on top of the charts while other endorsers -- and his game -- have gone in other directions. But his reign at No. 1 may soon be over. For more on Tiger go here.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson
Last Year's Rank: 2

Lefty's hefty sponsorship portfolio isn't flashy -- deals with Callaway, KPMG, Rolex, Barclays Capital, ExxonMobil and Amgen/Pfizer -- but he's one of the most reliable endorsers in pro sports. For more on Phil Mickelson go here.
LeBron James
LeBron James
Miami Heat (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 4

There's plenty of room for LeBron's talent in his $9 million Coconut Grove mansion. King James' compound features a wine cellar, library, home theater and dock that can fit two 60-foot yachts. But all the money in the world can't buy an NBA title.
Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning
Indianapolis Colts (NFL)
Last Year's Rank: 9

Who needs a lucrative new contract, anyway? If the Colts place the franchise tag on the four-time NFL MVP again next year, Manning will earn more than $50 million in salary over two seasons.
Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez
New York Yankees (MLB)
Last Year's Rank: 5

If A-Rod's bat catches fire, he could cash in this season on the first milestone bonus written into his contract: another $6 million for passing Willie Mays (No. 4 at 660) on the all-time home-run list.
Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 7

Kobe relinquished a pair of back-to-back titles this spring: the NBA championship and his crown as the NBA's top jersey seller worldwide. LeBron's No. 6 Heat top now outsells Kobe's No. 24.
Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett
Boston Celtics (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 15

This could be KG's final appearance on this list, as he's set to earn $21 million next season in the last year of his contract and could retire. He'll have earned more than $300 million over his career.
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons (NFL)
Last Year's Rank: NR

The bulk of guaranteed money in Ryan's six-year, $72 million contract he signed in 2008 should be paid out this year, when he'll earn a $22 million roster bonus on top of his $10.25 million salary.
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
New England Patriots (NFL)
Last Year's Rank: T-28

Brady's four-year, $72 million extension signed last September gives him the highest average annual salary in the NFL. He's due to collect $10 million of his $16 million signing bonus in August.
Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard
Orlando Magic (NBA)
Last Year's Rank: 12

Any dream of Superman joining Lakers needs a cold dose of reality: Howard would have to accept a huge reduction from $17.9 million he's own next year; Kobe might have to take a pay cut, too.

Wiley Coyote said...


The Bureau of LAbor Statistics has consistantly reported the same thing, so this isn't just "their agenda"..

From the BLS January 2007:

According to the BLS, the average public school teacher in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in 2005.

The average public school teacher was paid 36% more per hour than the average non-sales white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker.

Full-time public school teachers work on average 36.5 hours per week during weeks that they are working. By comparison, white-collar workers (excluding sales) work 39.4 hours, and professional specialty and technical workers work 39.0 hours per week. Private school teachers work 38.3 hours per week.

Compared with public school teachers, editors and reporters earn 24% less; architects, 11% less; psychologists, 9% less; chemists, 5% less; mechanical engineers, 6% less; and economists, 1% less.

Compared with public school teachers, airplane pilots earn 186% more; physicians, 80% more; lawyers, 49% more; nuclear engineers, 17% more; actuaries, 9% more; and physicists, 3% more.

Public school teachers are paid 61% more per hour than private school teachers, on average nationwide.

The Detroit metropolitan area has the highest average public school teacher pay among metropolitan areas for which data are available, at $47.28 per hour, followed by the San Francisco metropolitan area at $46.70 per hour, and the New York metropolitan area at $45.79 per hour.

Larry said...

Oh and those were just the top people. I could tell about the millionaires that are plentiful but then again why as it important that they be on television every week.

No we really need to understand that Education is an investment in our Country. Maybe not the way CMS has handled in the last few decades but with some work we can make it so.

Fred Flintstone said...

I think the "thinkers" at conservative think tanks are overpaid.

Finland has the right idea. Teachers are among the highest paid people in their society. Consequently, their best and brightest often pursue the profession of education rather than, as in our country, high finance.

As a result, their students consistently score higher than ours in basic skills and creative thinking and their society doesn't have a permanent underclass of grinding poverty that leads to so many social pathologies such as crime, teen pregnancy, and drug abuse.

They also don't have as many billionaires or religious zealots as us, but as the Finns consistently rank #1 in the "happiness index" which measures a person's overall contentment with their society, they don't seem to mind.

Jason said...

Teachers Unions across the country have constantly lobbied against any sort of accountability or measurement of competence for teachers. I'd say if teachers as a class want to be paid more, they'll need to agree to meet goals and be evaluated objectively and held accountable for the quality of the job they do - just like the rest of us.

Fred Flintstone said...

To Larry, the obsessed sports fan:

Comparing professional athletes, especially the top earners, with "ordinary" members of society is a false analogy. Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady make all that loot because there are, literally, only a handful of people in the entire world that can remotely do what they do. Simple supply and demand.

The problem is when ordinary men get elevated to extraordinary positions that pay ridiculous salaries. There is nothing special about these people other than they got incredibly lucky in the game of life. They often have no more qualifications to be a CEO than a MBA from an Ivy League school (which anyone can buy if their parents have enough cash).

They often owe their success in climbing the corporate ladder more to a powerful patron in the company or an uncle in the executive suite. CEO's tend to serve on other company's Boards & play golf together on weekends and executive compensation often becomes a case of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours".

In short, there's nothing special about these guys that justifies their absurd levels of compensation. They're no smarter, no more capable of running a company than you or me with the right training.

That, more than anything, is what the Occupy protesters are so incensed about. The game is rigged, and there's no such thing as a level playing field in America anymore. Some folks have figured that out, and some haven't.

kantstanzya said...

Teaching if done well is a very tough profession. If done poorly it is a waste of time.

The best teachers are very underpaid. The worst ones very overpaid. But until teachers unions and associations start allowing merit pay instead of the nutty seniority system the best teachers will continue to be frustrated by their pay, many top people will choose not to become teachers, and the worst ones will be quite content to take up space with their tenure in a classroom until they retire.

America said...

Most teachers are remarkably stupid, work 60% of the year and half the day. Yeah, they're overpaid

Larry said...

I will tell you the biggest waste of money:

President is about 400K and then the benefits then

Congress: Leadership Members' Salary (2011)
Leaders of the House and Senate are paid a higher salary than rank-and-file members.

Senate Leadership
Majority Party Leader - $193,400
Minority Party Leader - $193,400

House Leadership
Speaker of the House - $223,500
Majority Leader - $193,400
Minority Leader - $193,400

And all the other salaries and benefits we waste both in Washington, Raleigh and here in Charlotte.

Oh and I will bet some tax money found its way onto this study somehow, somewhere or attached it self to to this group.

Anonymous said...

Per Wiley Coyote: "According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average public school teacher in the United States earned $34.06 per hour in 2005. The average public school teacher was paid 36% more per hour than the average non-sales white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker."

Does this take into account just the "working" hours - in school, that is - of the typical teacher? How about the hours they put in at home, creating lesson plans, marking tests and papers, coming up with creative plans to keep today's attention deficient children engaged … Teachers have to deal with problem children, as well as those that are gifted. It takes a certain mindset to become a teacher. No, they are not OVERPAID. If anything, they are paid less than any other field out there. They are the ones trying to teach the next generation, those who will lead us and become our caretakers in the future. How can we say that these people are overpaid? Yes, I’ve had bad teachers. So has my child. However, it is the good ones that we remember. And learn from. And hopefully try to emulate. Remember … “if you can read, thank a teacher.”

Jay Coqueran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay Coqueran said...

Let’s imagine for a moment that teachers were paid a baby-sitter’s salary. Let’s assume that they charge $3.00 an hour per kid. They “babysit” 25 children from 8AM to 3PM Monday through Friday. That’s eight hours a day, five days a week, for approximately nine months (or 36 weeks) a year. The math, very briefly:

8 hours x $3.00/hr = $24 a day per student.
$24/student x 25 students = $600 a day per class
36 weeks x 5 days per week = 180 days
$600 x 180 days = $108,000.00/year salary.

The average teacher in Wisconsin – where teachers are fighting the Republican governor, Scott Walker, for their right to collectively bargain – makes about $51,000 a year. Their benefits package knocks that up quite a bit – some say by $39,000 to a total of $90,000 combined benefits and wages.

But that’s still $18,000 a year less than they would be making if they were actually baby-sitting.

Not all states are as generous as Wisconsin either.

nugeme said...

After giving 32 years service to the students of this state, I cannot tell you how sick this makes me feel. I never thought I would ever see such a day when we'd be treated like this. It is unbelievable. What kind of crazy society have we become?

Fred Flintstone said...

nugeme - I've thought about your question a lot. How could it have gotten this bad?

This all started with the election of Reagan in 1980. He championed the idea that government is the enemy and if we just keep handing goodies to the rich and powerful, they'll, in their infinite wisdom and generosity, provide us with jobs. Eventually. Didn't work out that way, of course; never does.

But to sell such a preposterous idea, they had to convince a majority of Americans to ignore facts, reject reality, and vote against their economic interests. Thus was born what's come to be known as The Right-Wing Echo Chamber. Limbaugh was the first, and still the worst. His "populist" appeal gave visceral support to the anti-government, anti-union, anti-tax message coming from the White House. And once the Internet was created, it became a malignant force in all segments of our society.

Reason has been banished, replaced by blind fidelity to a conservative cause built on lies and deceit. They've made politics like a team sport where you not only give your guys your complete loyalty, but actively reject anything coming out of the opponent's camp no matter how practical, sensible, or beneficial to the largest group of people.

I don't know what the answer is. Thought the collapse of the economy might wake 'em up, but then the Tea Party decided reforming health care was a threat to liberty itself and the President isn't really an American (but he sho'nuff is black), and now here we are - in real danger of starting another similar mess all over again. Just 3 short years after it all blew up. If you're a teacher, I'm sorry for your loss(es).

Anonymous said...

@Baixiong What are you talking about? You need factual evidence before you make a bold, asinine comment like that. My husband and I are both educators, and we both scored 1500+ on our SATs in the early 2000s.

Teachers are not in education as an "easy way out"--certainly not the teachers that actually still teach after two or three years.
Regardless of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, teachers work far more than 39.5 hours per week--especially teachers in urbanized school districts.

When teachers I have worked with (including myself) get to work at 6 AM and leave at 7 PM every night just to meet the demands of the public education system, that is much more than a typical 8 hour shift--without a break!!! 13 hours x 5 days = 65 hours. I had the same salary for four years ($33,000). In 180 days, I worked about 2470 hours. This does NOT include weekends! If I take my base salary and divide by the number of hours I have logged for the school year, that's $13.66 per hour. Wait, let's take out the 25% taken out for taxes, social security, and health insurance... $24,750. Now, let's do the math... that's $10.02 per hour.

TEACHERS HAVE BACHELORS DEGREES... and they're getting paid $10 per hour. Some teachers have masters degrees and National Board Certification... and they're barely making ends meet.

Not only do we struggle to make ends meet, but we also compensate for the lack of school supplies provided by parents AND the school district... so our students can achieve the right score on a test created by people that have no basic understanding of how a fair and thorough assessment should be created and administered. AND you're telling me that the scores these six year old children make on these tests determine how much money I am going to make. Like the six year old has the attention span or compassion to care about a standardized test.


Mr.F said...

I teach in one of the worst paying states in the country. I graduated in the top 10% of my university class. I don't teach for money, I do it because it is the most important way I can contribute to society. I strongly oppose recent reform attempts..not because I feel that they will single me out as a bad teacher. I am board certified with a masters degree. I'm a local teacher of the year and a state English teacher of the year. I know how to teach well. But yes, I'm scared. I'm worried about hits this attack on teachers and attempt to determine teacher quality student test scores will affect my ability to do my job. It is not the poor teachers who are under attack now(to be honest, I know few who I would label poor), it is the vast majority of us who care about kids and the importance of our professions. We don't need much. Just a fair wage (no, we are not overpaid..don't listen to this political bs) and the ability to apply our professional judgement to help your kids build a better future than the present we live in now.