Should teachers be paid more money?

From the American Enterprise Institute.


Mark Perry posts regarding the new AEI Education Outlook by University of Missouri economist Cory Koedel which shows Education to be by far the easiest course of study in most colleges. Mark finds additional evidence from Cornell University to back up Koedel’s claim. Education majors enter college with lower SAT scores than students majoring in other fields but leave college with higher GPAs.

[…]But, as a forthcoming paper that I have co-authored with Jason Richwine will show, the low standards applied in education degrees also complicate the task of determining whether public school teachers are fairly paid. Teachers claim to be underpaid because they receive lower average salaries than private sector workers with similar levels of education. (Our paper shows that, even if this is true, they more than make up the gap through generous benefits, but we’ll ignore that for now.) But note that the control variable here is the level of education — meaning, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, and so on — and not the quality of education nor, more importantly, the ability or productivity of the worker.

[…]Put bluntly, public school teachers enter college with below-average SAT scores, major in the easiest undergraduate course of study, take Master’s degrees in education that have no appreciable impact on teaching quality, and then wonder why they’re not as well paid as someone who got a Master’s in chemical engineering. They shouldn’t.

Education is what you study when you can’t get into anything else, and you don’t learn anything in it. What we really need is to hire teachers with real degrees in math, science and business. There should not even be an education MAJOR.

Here’s a fun story about the Chicago Teacher Union (CTU).


Like many Illinois citizens, the CTU has seen reports that three out of four state high school graduates are not ready for college.  And the union’s response has been, well … the CTU hasn’t really said anything about it.

You see, the fact that students are leaving Illinois’ K-12 public education system totally unprepared for college, the workplace or life in general – that’s not really the CTU’s thing.

Instead, the union is “upset” and feeling very “disrespected” because the Chicago Board of Education doesn’t have the money to pay CTU members the four percent pay raise they were promised in their contract.

The union is also steaming over the fact that more than 1,500 teachers have been laid off, some of which have been placed on a “secret” do-not-hire list, CTU President Karen Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Pay, benefits, working conditions – these are the things that the teachers unions are willing to strike over. If only 23 percent of Illinois high school grads pass a college-readiness test, well, what do you expect them to do about it? Lewis is quick to point out that union teachers are just simple “workers,” doing the best they can with the kids they are given. (It’s mostly the parents’ fault, anyway.)

Sure, some trouble making education reformers may suggest that kids are doing badly on the tests because their school days have been frittered away on silly social justice lessons, but the fact that the CTU is being stiffed on its four percent pay raise only underscores the need for such a curriculum.

Teachers don’t like it when you expect them to earn their salaries. They just go on strike.

9 thoughts on “Should teachers be paid more money?”

  1. I am usually in general agreement with most of the issues you raise, but I have to take exception to this one on teachers. I’m a college lecturer in UK, and most of the teachers and lecturers I know entered the profession because of their love of people. The vast majority are nurturers, and they recognize that, along with stay-at-home mothers, they have one of the most important roles anyone can have: to nurture an up and coming generation to leadership. I have been asked why, with my theological background, did I quit pastoring. The answer is that my reach today has increased by an untold factor: access to a prime demographic group; and a size that only a very few mega-pastors in the USA can match.

    I’m not sure about USA (although I attended both British and an American university), but over here, the main problem is that teachers are not allowed to teach any more. Not teach from the heart. They are glorified administrators and paper-pushers. Education has been politicized to the extent that common sense basic discipline and basic educational steps have been destroyed in the name of “inclusion” and “politically correct”. I asked a class if they could tell me WHY they each are here on the planet. The stock answers I heard and still here today are “to make money” or “to retire when I’m 35, sit on a sunny beach and have lots of women.” when I told them they had not understood the question: WHY have yo been put on the planet, there was silence. Eventually, someone spoke up and the others agreed: “Sir, we’ve never been asked that question before!”

    But please don’t blame the teachers (except the ones who push their subversive liberal agenda). It is the madness of politics that prevent true LIFE VALUES from even being discussed in the class room; that at the same time ROB our youth of basic educational principles that are the foundation upon which exploration and intelligent learning can take place later in life.

    I realize I’m drifting a bit from point to point, but hope that you can see it is not fair to generalize when it comes to the teaching profession. As one elementary school in a developing nation I’ve visited says, “The Road to Excellence Starts Here!”


  2. The fact that the teachers know that they were able to graduate and secure a relatively well paying job without having to apply themselves does not bode well for the next generation. Combine that with the horrible curriculum that (as the article points out) is mostly social justice with little influence on maths, sciences, and english, and you have a disaster. As a parent I have sat down with teachers in the school and have gone over the curriculum with them and asked them if they believe that the education level is sufficient to allow for a child to even graduate high-school. One teacher hung her head and just said, “I don’t know.” The resource teacher at the school asked me what I thought the objective or agenda was, because she was so confused. We need to ask ourselves why our society is allowing for lowered education standards. What is the agenda? Have we seen this occur in other countries? As parents, today especially, we need to realize that we are our children’s primary educators and take our role very seriously. As a Christian I am promised a millstone if I lead my child down the wrong path, and as Lewis Carol’s Cheshire cat said: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” It is totally irresponsible as a parent, and as a member of society to bring children into this world and then abandon them to institutions who will set them lose on society never being educated enough to become functioning members of that society. At best these children are anarchists, knowing nothing more than how to demand rights, and agitate for changes (of which the effects are never calculated). I pray that parents wake up and that those who are not parents demand more from those that are. I don’t think blaming teachers will solve this problem there is a problem here and it is solved when people realize the importance of personal responsibility in all areas of life. Ask a straight A student if it mattered to them whether the guy beside them got a B. The SAT scores of teachers will increase when the requirement for personal responsibility does.


  3. Wintery said: “Education is what you study when you can’t get into anything else, and you don’t learn anything in it. What we really need is to hire teachers with real degrees in math, science and business. There should not even be an education MAJOR.”

    Do you have anything to back this up? I know many people that have always wanted to be teaches since they were young (and now are) since they wanted to work with kids. Business, in my not so humble opinion, is where people go when they can’t hack it anywhere. I have 3 friends that got MBA’s and they joked it was 90% common sense. While I imagine a lot of education is common sense, in order to be a good teacher you have to have a decent mastery of the subject you wish to teach.

    I personally think teachers pay is decent and they get paid more as they progress through their careers and they have management tracks – administration. They don’t have too much to compain about in terms of pay (in terms of undisciplined kids and parents, well that’s a different story)


    1. I agree with only PART of Wintery’s assertion on whether or not there should be an education major. Teachers should have solid degrees in the subjects that they are going to teach.

      That said, some of the WORST teachers imagineable are people with high-level degrees in their field. The reason is that in order to teach, you MUST know how to communicate and put things into “laymen’s terms”, understand the principles of WHAT to teach, WHEN to teach it, and HOW to teach it. A previous post got into the differences between male and female learners, but its more appropriate to discuss the difference between child, adolescent, and adult learners, as well as the differences in tactile, visual, and auditory learners. (Males and females have trends, but individuals rarely fit the same molds.) With that in mind, I would want to see that teachers are properly trained in these areas — beyond “here’s a certificate.” Not only that, I’d demand yearly CE, and give those individual teachers more control over their cirriculums.

      As for pay… It depends. You have states where the median pay grade for a high school teacher is “okay.” But there are other states where the median salary is downright abysmal. But the truth is many teachers are dropping out of the field due to the inequevilent pay versus work done. I hear a lot of arguments that state that a teacher only works for six-seven hours a day and for only nine months out of a year. Those people are ignorant (that, or the teachers they know are the scum at the very bottom the barrel). And since our society is more and more looking at schools to be babysitting arenas, their jobs only get rougher.


  4. The average teacher:
    School year = 180 days
    14 Holidays/year= -14
    5 personal days/year= -5
    7 Sick days/year- -7
    ? Vacation days/year= ? *
    Total days worked 154 Days/year
    I have heard rumors teachers get vacation time as well but not confirmed
    Work day is 7 hours including a 1/2 hour PAID lunch and one hour FREE period/day
    Should teachers get the same pay as someone who works a full-time job all year? I don’t think so.


    1. Jack your argument ignores the facts.

      The good high school teacher doesn’t just show up at school and then turn around and goes home when the bell rings. Just because YOU do that at YOUR job doesn’t mean it works that way for teachers.

      * Most schools have after-school functions. Here’s a news flash for you: kids aren’t allowed to stay at schools by themselves. These can run as late as 9 or 10 pm.; teachers are also among the first people to be at the school the following morning.
      * Some schools (one of mine was example of this) run for extended hours, depending on what they offer. I started class at 7:30am (5:30 for swim meets) and my classes didn’t end until 7pm at night.
      * Teachers show up to school even on days when the school is NOT open. Just because students are not in the school does not mean they are not working.
      * Jack — tell me. Do tests and papers grade themselves? Do reports read themselves aloud? Do recommendation letters write themselves? “Teacher aides” do not do the bulk of this work, and if they are, then yes, you are dealing with a bad teacher. Most of this work ultimately gets done while the teacher is at home, and can consume a teacher’s entire day and night. I never once had a teacher when I was in high school who didn’t spend a minimum of 12 hours a day doing work related to their job.
      * Teachers do work weekends. I have never known a teacher to not have something to do over their weekend — in fact, I’ve had a few teachers stress over things like not even being able to get to a father’s funeral or seeing their kids for the work that they would have to complete ON TIME.
      * Teachers also put in additional time when doing tutoring. Not all teachers do this, but some do.
      * Schools do not close on the summer. Summer classes require teachers.
      * Many schools in the US are moving towards year-round operation.

      This is just the tip of ice berg. I state these points because they aren’t often thought about when people begin to complain that teachers work a short day and then get off for three months (they don’t). In my local area, teachers draw an average of 22,000-30,000 a year. That’s PATHETIC for the amount of work that they put in.

      And yet, the first thing people will say to defend a CEO who spends most of his time golfing because he has managers to make his decisions for him is that he “works” for his money. It’s funny how we glorify effort and hard work and then don’t want to reward it when it’s due.


  5. If evolution were true, teachers would be equipped with one arm six inches longer than the other for use in constantly patting themselves on the back.


  6. Each reply has some real nuggests there, we all seem to be seeing a similar thing, assuming of course that Jack is talking “tongue in cheek”. But if you are serious, Jack, please re-calculate to add-in lesson planning time; scheme of work planning; marking and grading papers; adminstration, setting/marking exams, parents’ evenings; Saturday additional activities; unpaid summer break field trips. I’m sure I’ve fogotten some still. Also, at least in UK, we have annual appraisals and also annual graded lesson observations. Plus we have to fulfil a required number of hours of on-going professional development. It is not an easy option. Many if not most teachers are in the profession because they care about others, more than they care about high salary. Pray for them; please do’nt knock them! Bless you, Brother John.


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