Friday, February 02, 2007

Overpaid teachers

Teacher pay and student performance have no meaningful relationship whatsoever, and to the extent that they do, they trend in opposite directions--that is, as salaries increase, student performance drops.

Still, toiling in their air-conditioned salt mines, they are underpaid, right? Wrong (also here). A couple of researchers from the Manhattan Institute find that the average public school teacher makes $34.06 an hour. The pay doesn't look as lucrative on an annual basis, because teachers work so much less than workers in other industries. But if the soft public school teacher's schedule (no weekends, no holidays, no evenings/overnights, etc) is adjusted to a standard forty hour workweek, they are making over $68,000 a year.

That's more than purchasing agents, insurance appraisers, logisticians, loan officers, computer programmers, database administrators, statisticians, agricultural engineers, industrial engineers, microbiologists, foresters, chemists, historians, geographers, dancers, actors, dietitians, occupational therapists, firefighters, police officers, economists, chefs, insurance agents, travel agents, mail carriers, animal breeders, stone masons, architects, carpenters, roofers, avionics technicians, painters, and semiconductor processors earn, just to name a few.

Time to introduce market forces into education, to video record classes, allow for school differentiation, and let students skip courses while receiving credit through 'testing-out' of classses in which they've already mastered the material. Most teachers will make less, and many will be out of the job. The good ones will make more, and a lot of deadweight loss will be removed. Everybody but the NEA wins.


Cedric Morrison said...

Conscientious teachers do a lot of work at home. For example, I'm sure my niece, who is a mathematics teacher, works at least forty hours per week, probably more.

JSBolton said...

Public education at all levels should, indeed must before long, be privatized.
It is an engine of propagandization for despotism.
Officials' power-greed is supported by teachers and professors, which leads to more money for education, which allows more indoctrination promoting more power for officials, then a larger and more expensive public educational system; and onwards in a self-reinforcing process, which ends in a dictatorship devoted to mass-murder as an end-in-itself.
The more expensive, propagandistic and dysfunctional this system becomes; the greater the incentive to say that the net taxpayer is to blame for the inequalities which little can be done about.
Their products are egalitarian indoctrination and anti-discrimination poses.
When your stock-in-trade is anti-discrimination, and your motivation is power-greed, no rational argument can reach you.
I say that our government schools can be understood in the above terms, but not otherwise.

al fin said...

I like John Taylor Gatto's underground history of american education. If you haven't read it, you need to.

Mandatory education under a regime of government sanctioned bureaucrats is a recipe for societal ignorance and dysfunction.

There is no requirement that a government school teacher be conscientious. Many teachers in urban areas must start out conscientious, then inevitably sink into cynical apathy.

crush41 said...


But I wonder how the average amount of work public teachers take home with them compares to the rank-and-file of other professions. Of course there is variance within the teaching realm--I'm sure math teachers do more than their fair share of outside work, while phys ed teachers do almost none.

In either case, if your niece is putting in that kind of time and devotion, would she not be better served in a world of privatized education? It is the majority of teachers, those who wantonly obtain easy graduate degrees in education to increase their salaries and who give truth to the adage "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach," who are the problem.


Eloquently put, as always. Public education is an extension of governmental overbearance. The NEA is a powerful partisan branch of the quasi-Marxist big government movement (Marx did, after all, consider public education crucial to his utopia).

Al Fin,

I just snatched it up on half. Thanks for the recommendation.

It is depressing to think of how many quixotic educators have gone into the chaos and intellectual vacuity of the inner-city to see their high aspirations crushed. But reality can be harsh.

al fin said...

C41: Like you, I prefer to read real books, but for anyone who doesn't have access to Gatto's book in print, you can follow the link for a free online version.

It must come as a huge surprise to many people that education could be provided another way.

Anonymous said...

"It is depressing to think of how many quixotic educators have gone into the chaos and intellectual vacuity of the inner-city to see their high aspirations crushed. But reality can be harsh."

We were not exactly working with quality material. I used to teach in Philadelphia. It would have ben better to simply send 50% of the kids off to jail, because that is where they were headed anyway. Most of the others should have been kept in climate controlled warehouses with adequate food, drink and TV/video games. It would be cheaper and easier than spending the money on "schools." The NEA doesn't give a shit, they never will. I was smart and got out after a year. Needless to say, I do not have a positive outlook on most of these "students" and what they will be doing when they get out of school totally unprepared for anything except recieving a check every month and stealing cars.

Billy Bob said...

Like my momma said, "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen".

And as I say, "if you don't feel you're being compensated for what you are worth, find another job". No one is keeping you there.

Take the competitive factor out of a profession, and you will not achieve perfection. I'm not talking necessarily about teachers competing against other teachers. Seeking professionalism, great teachers compete against themselves.

nzconservative said...

Teachers have to work hard in the first few years creating lesson plans, however once they have been in the job a while they do get a pretty good per hour rate.