Teachers claim to be underpaid; all the evidence points in the opposite direction.
30th Anniversary of School Choice in America – Part IV
Teachers In America Are Overpaid – Not Underpaid
By: George Noga – August 22, 2021
If you missed the prequel (July 25) or any of the prior posts in this series, they are easily viewed here on our website: www.mllg.us. Next week is the must-read series finale: a letter every government school should be required to send to all parents each year.
It is possible that at some time in the distant past (50-60 years ago), teachers truly were underpaid. This belief has persisted to the present, no doubt with much encouragement from teachers. Nonetheless, all the available evidence (which is presented in this post) leads to the opposite conclusion, i.e. teachers in America today are overpaid.
Every child in America should be entitled to a voucher to attend a school chosen by his/her parents. Teachers should be paid based on merit as determined by free markets and not by tenure or public sector unions.
Compelling Evidence Proves Government Teachers Are Overpaid
Objective Surveys: The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) shows no underpayment. Forbes magazine listed the 25 most underpaid jobs in America; teaching was not among them. The same is true of every other job survey that has been published.
Public Sector Unions: Teacher pay is determined by bargaining between public sector unions and governments which have symbiotic relationships. Teachers are paid via tax dollars, not free markets. No scient person can believe that, after decades of highly coercive union bargaining, teachers (and only teachers) somehow are underpaid.
Private School Pay: If unionized government school teachers truly were underpaid, we should expect to see teachers in private schools earning more. Instead, nonreligious private school teachers earn 15% to 20% less than their public school counterparts.
Logic: No other job in America has been so consistently asserted to be underpaid. Such an imbalance simply cannot persist for many decades in a market economy.
Post-teaching Pay: When teachers leave to accept non-teaching jobs, their pay does not increase; this is a prima facia case they were not underpaid while teaching.
Benefits: Teachers receive guaranteed lifetime employment (they cannot be fired), lifetime health care for their family, uber-generous pensions and lots of vacation and holidays. When factoring in these benefits, their total compensation skyrockets.
Overpaid Government Workers: Study upon study shows public sector workers are compensated about 25% more for the same work compared to the private sector. Since teachers are government workers, it is logical they are overpaid by the same amount.
Apples to Apples: Teachers (who should know better) use false pay comparisons. They disingenuously compare those with STEM degrees who graduated in the upper deciles of their class to teachers with education degrees mostly from the lower deciles.
Not Merit Based: Teacher pay is based on tenure – not on merit or on any objective metric of job performance. In fact, basing pay on results or merit is anathema to teachers. Union rules reward the worst teachers at the expense of the best ones.
Lingering myths about low teacher pay are fueled by elites, liberal media, pubic sector unions and government. Outstanding teachers undoubtedly are underpaid; however, all objective data and logic leads inexorably to the conclusion that teachers in America today (taken in the aggregate) are overpaid by somewhere between 15% and 25%.