Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Are Teachers Underpaid? Letís Find Out
The Federalist ^ | July 24, 2014 | David Harsanyi

Posted on 07/24/2014 7:09:56 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

A teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 per year, which is less than the average auto-repair worker. So says Vox. This grievance against salary injustice is nothing new, of course, but this particular example comes to us from a new national study by the Center for American Progress, which details the chickenfeed teachers are forced to subsist on as they altruistically keep your hopeless children literate.

Teachers are underpaid. In politics, and also in everyday life, this is almost universally accepted. Everyone admires teachers. Everyone wants good teachers for their children. And, naturally, liberals believe contrasting these salaries will emphasize the irrationality and unfairness of the marketplace.

But it doesn’t. And the first, and most obvious, reason it doesn’t is that teachers actually do quite well for themselves considering the economic realities of their profession.

A 2012 study conducted by the Heritage Foundation found that workers who switched from private employment to teaching most often took an hourly pay increase, while most of those who left teaching for the private sector took pay decreases. More specifically, a few years back, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Compensation Survey numbers, the Manhattan Institute looked at the hourly pay of public school teachers in the top 66 metropolitan areas in the country. It found that teachers pulled in around $34.06 per hour. Journalists, who have vital job of protecting American democracy, earned 24 percent less. Architects, 11 percent less. Psychologists, 9 percent. Chemists, 5 percent.

It’s also worth asking what an average auto mechanic –a person that CAP and Vox intimates is undeserving of a teacher-level compensation – might be willing to give up for the security of tenure? What would a guaranteed pension and a lifetime of health care coverage be worth to a plumber? Considering how hard unions fight to keep these things, I imagine they’re worth quite a bit.

Then there is the matter of demand. Or, lack of it. According to Andrew Coulson at the Cato Institute, since 1970 the public school workforce has roughly doubled from 3.3 million to 6.4 million (predominately teachers), while over the same period the enrollment of children rose by only 8.5 percent – or a rate that was 11 times slower. Recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality found that schools are training twice as many K-5 elementary school teachers as they need every year.

With this kind of surplus, the question we really should be asking is: how are teacher salaries so high?

The second, and less obvious problem, with Vox’s mechanic-teacher comparison is the snobbish suggestion — thrown around by teachers unions and their allies all the time — that working with your hands is less meaningful or valuable to society than working with kids.

Now, auto technicians make an average of $35,790 nationally, with 10 percent of them earning more than $59,590, according to BLS data. According to a number of experts from large car companies, there will be a serious shortage of mechanics in the near future, as demand expected to grow 17 percent from 2010 to 2020. That’s 848,200 jobs, according to USA Today. And judging from the information, mechanics are asked to learn increasingly high-tech skills to be effective at their jobs. It wouldn’t be surprising if their salaries soon outpaced those of teachers.

“The bottom line,” says TAC, “is that mid- and late-career teachers are not earning what they deserve, nor are they able to gain the salaries that support a middle-class existence.”

Alas, neither liberal think tanks nor explainer sites have the capacity to determine the worth of human capital. And contrasting the pay of a person with a predetermined government salary to one earned in a competitive marketplace tells us little. A public school teacher’s compensation is determined by a contract negotiated long before many of them had even decided to teach. These contracts hurt the earning potential of good teachers and undermine education system. And it has nothing to do with what anyone “deserves.”

Example: though we produce too many teachers in general, there isn’t nearly enough math and science teachers. Salaries do not reflect this reality. If math teachers pulled in what they were worth – say, for argument’s sake, $70,000 – the problem would be corrected. But that would also mean plenty of other teachers would be making exactly what they deserve. And that’s what the NEA’s been fighting for 40 or so years.

So if teachers believe they aren’t making what they’re worth, and they may well be right about that, let’s free them from union constraints and let them find out what the job market has to offer. Until then we can’t really know. Because a bachelor’s degree isn’t a dispensation from the vagaries of economic reality. And teaching isn’t the first step towards sainthood. Regardless of what you’ve heard.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Education; Government; Society
KEYWORDS: incomeinequality; payinequality; teachers; unions

1 posted on 07/24/2014 7:09:56 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

In Montgomery County Maryland, they make 100K plus after 20 years for sure. They start out around 45K but it is increased every year.


2 posted on 07/24/2014 7:11:13 PM PDT by napscoordinator (I guarantee every FRiend Misses the lost opportunity of a President Santorum!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

I’d say those teacher salary numbers are fake.


3 posted on 07/24/2014 7:13:48 PM PDT by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator

Same in Wisconsin. It isn’t quite the gravy train it was before Scott Walker, but the money is quite good and the benefits are still better than the private sector.

I have friends who are retired teachers. They live on a golf course and have a vacation home next to a former solicitor general of the United States.

FWIW, I don’t make 45k after nearly 20 years in the news media. I chose poorly.


4 posted on 07/24/2014 7:16:09 PM PDT by MediaMole
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

>>Journalists, who have vital job of protecting American democracy, earned 24 percent less.

How can anyone take a story seriously that says that?


5 posted on 07/24/2014 7:17:50 PM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyranni)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

When I was a pup, teachers got paid only for the 9-10 months they worked. Almost all of them had summer jobs which, in most cases, made them better teachers.

Some of them even started businesses. My 5th grade science teacher was one of the founders of Swanson`s Vitamins, a highly reputable and successful company.


6 posted on 07/24/2014 7:18:59 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

To the headline - NO NO NO!!!!


7 posted on 07/24/2014 7:20:31 PM PDT by svcw (Not 'hope and change' but 'dopes in chains')
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator
They "work" less than eight months each year when you consider snow days, holidays and "teacher training" (i.e., free danish and coffee and sitting for a few hours). Oh...having "lived" in monkey county for 30+ years, I second your comments. Teachers are the biggest whiners about their pay and benefits. Maryland THE Freak state. Escape while you can..
8 posted on 07/24/2014 7:20:55 PM PDT by hal ogen (First Amendment or Reeducation Camp?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Teachers are underpaid.”

Absolute BS...
I’m married to one.
Not including extra’s, she makes north of $60 per hour with 20 years in.

In Chicago, 90K plus isn’t unusual, BEFORE BENNIES.
For 185 6.5 hour days.
More if you have a master’s, or a doctorate.


9 posted on 07/24/2014 7:22:19 PM PDT by tcrlaf (Q)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

A while back I went on an Earthwatch expedition. You get to participate in a research expedition, as a paying member, in my case my share was a few grand, a little more for the right gear and of course some new lenses for the camera, and plane tickets.

Four members of the expedition were teachers on a grant- they paid nothing in return for giving a one-hour lecture when they got back to school. The grant included funding for camera equipment and airfare.

So while their salaries may have been lower than mine, I had to pay and they rode free, boosting their apparent salaries by three or four thousand.

http://earthwatch.org/ is a good outfit that can get you into some very interesting places, like on a riverboat in the Amazon looking for pink freshwater dolphins.


10 posted on 07/24/2014 7:25:01 PM PDT by DBrow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
Teachers, people who decided to stay in school forever and not go out in the real world to make a living.

Working people, you don't perform your job well, you're fired.
Teachers, you don't perform your job well, so what.

11 posted on 07/24/2014 7:28:10 PM PDT by The Cajun (Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Mike Lee, Louie Gohmert....Nuff said.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: napscoordinator

My dad taught in Montgomery County High Schools over 40 yrs ago and never once complained about the pay. He always felt he was well paid and loved teaching. He raised 4 kids and had a wife that was a homemaker. He moved us away from that area into PA and would travel 1.5 hrs each way for his job but he was always grateful and never complained. I am just amazed how teachers making $65,000 per year for 180 day act like they are underpaid


12 posted on 07/24/2014 7:28:10 PM PDT by happyhomemaker (Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rom 12:12)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: DBrow

I’ve dated teachers in the past and my sister is a special education teacher. They get a lot of freebies like that and many discounts on homes, mortgages, car loans and many other things.


13 posted on 07/24/2014 7:32:27 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Bryanw92

That was thrown in their as red meat for the leftists, the author probably didn’t mean it.


14 posted on 07/24/2014 7:34:41 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

YES. They are not underpaid. Teachers don’t have to compete with each other. Schools don’t have to compete for talent. Teachers can rarely be fired. This is a recipe for lousy unmotivated teachers. Are there good teachers? Certainly. But are the underpaid? Not at all. With their benefits and part time job they are paid a lot.


15 posted on 07/24/2014 7:37:31 PM PDT by Organic Panic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
And teaching isn’t the first step towards sainthood.

I teach middle school, and this guy has no idea what it's like to spend all day with attitudinal, hormonal 12-13 year olds, in batches of 28-39, depending on the class. I've done it for 10 years and I feel like Job.

That said, I'm earning about $61,000 (now, started much lower) and I certainly don't feel like I'm starving. Cost of living in Los Angeles is high, but I'm comfortable enough. I figure if you count only the hours I spend with the kids, I'm getting about $2.50 per hour, per kid.

I do think baby-sitters and day-care workers get more, nowadays, and I certainly work more than just 5 hours a day (planning, grading, meetings, fighting with copier machine, cleaning and decorating room and bulletin boards in the hallway)... but it's rather a fun job sometimes, so I don't complain much about the pay.

THAT SAID... if I got $3 per kid, per hour, I'd get about $74,250 just for the time with them. And if I got paid for the... say... 2 extra hours I work per day (one is my conference period, one after work) say I got... $7 per hour for that.... that'd be around another $2310 per year. I'd get around $76,560 per year.

16 posted on 07/24/2014 7:51:15 PM PDT by A_perfect_lady
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet
I had a teacher whine to me about what she earned, so I told her what I made as a degreed analytical chemist with 3 decades experience in industry, and she shut up.

Teachers think everyone else is making 6 figures and driving a Lexus. They do very well for their level of education.
17 posted on 07/24/2014 9:06:29 PM PDT by Nepeta
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Did I miss the part about being forced to be a teacher? If they don’t like the pay, go find some other way to be useful that pays better.


18 posted on 07/24/2014 9:18:49 PM PDT by Menehune56 ("Let them hate so long as they fear" (Oderint Dum Metuant), Lucius Accius (170 BC - 86 BC))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: 2ndDivisionVet

Here the average teacher makes $65,000 a year. After 12 years on the job they make $90,000. My retired cousin’s pension from teaching, coaching, driver’s ed, etc., is over $100,000 a year.


19 posted on 07/24/2014 9:32:56 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Nepeta

“They do very well for their level of education.”

That’s the part many seem to forget about. “Education” degrees are some of the least demanding in all of academe, and the SAT scores of Ed-track students reflect that. Particularly in light of that, teachers get paid quite well.


20 posted on 07/24/2014 11:09:18 PM PDT by Little Pig
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: tcrlaf

Also married to a teacher. Average per hour (assuming an 8 hour day and 200 days of work per year) is $31. She has 15 years of experience (took 10 years off to stay home with the kids).


21 posted on 07/25/2014 7:23:17 AM PDT by al_c (Obama's standing in the world has fallen so much that Kenya now claims he was born in America.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Little Pig
That’s the part many seem to forget about. “Education” degrees are some of the least demanding in all of academe, and the SAT scores of Ed-track students reflect that. Particularly in light of that, teachers get paid quite well.

It sure isn't like getting an engineering degree or other tech field requiring the application of math or other rigorous problem solving!

I had a neighbor who taught high school science who made almost 40% more than I did DOING science at P&G.
22 posted on 07/25/2014 8:56:56 PM PDT by Nepeta
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Bloggers & Personal
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson