Will paying teachers more money improve student performance?

Public school teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona are striking this spring, affecting hundreds of thousands of students. The teachers say that spending more money on education will help children learn more. There’s an excellent article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist that looks at whether increasing spending raises student performance. (H/T Vanessa)

Oklahoma teachers want a $10,000 raise, and Arizona teachers want a 20% increase in base pay. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get anything near that for my annual raise.

Educational bureacracy

Will raising taxes on taxpayers in order to spend more on education improve student performance? Joy says we can look at the past in order to understand whether spending more money gets results.

She writes:

Research has also long and conclusively shown that school spending hikes usually don’t go to teachers, they go to administrators and other bloat outside classrooms. So the kids are just unions’ human shields on their way to raid the kids’ public bank accounts — again.

[…]As the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey has shown, U.S. public K-12 spending has skyrocketed over the past 50 years with no improvement in academic outcomes. Other researchers repeatedly find increasing spending doesn’t help students. That’s because, as noted above, schools typically don’t send more money to classrooms, they use it to increase bureaucracy and nonacademic programming.

Got that? When taxpayers throw money at public schools, the teachers don’t see very much of that money. It gets put into education administrators and indoctrinators – people whose sole job is to make sure that the children accept secular left values.

Check out this graph of education spending compared to test scores:

Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat
Federal spending has increased astronomically, but test scores are flat

Spending more doesn’t produce the results that parents are looking for, for their children. Parents want children to learn what they need to find work and become financially independent. But teachers, adminsitrators, etc. have a very different goal: making little secular leftists. And that’s what they use increased funding for that. Numbers don’t lie.

Another way that public schools waste money is by promising massive gold-plated public sector pensions to teachers – pensions that no private sector  taxpayer would ever get themselves. And they use any increase in their budgets to pay the pensions of teachers who are retired, and not helping students to learn.

Teacher pensions

I saw a really nice map of the United States over at Daily Signal, with all the outstanding pensions liabilities, and the amount ranges from about $7600 in Tennessee (the best state in the union) to tens of thousands in the big blue socialist states.

Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers
Unfunded pension liabilities for public sector workers

Joy explains:

States promised such outsized retirement benefits to the last generation of public-school teachers that they’re paying off this promise with current revenues. A national average of $6,800 per year per teacher pays former teachers’ pensions that state and local governments failed to save up for while those teachers were working. That’s money that could have instead boosted current teachers’ salaries. The problem is only going to get worse as more baby boomers retire and legislatures continue to hide their heads in the sand.

It’s not just that states and districts failed to save up for pensions they knew would come due, it’s that they offered literally the cushiest pensions available to teachers, notes a 2016 study: “as a group, [teachers] have by far the highest retirement costs, even compared with other public-sector employees. While the average civilian employee receives $1.78 for retirement benefits per hour of work, public school teachers receive $6.22 per hour in retirement compensation.”

Like I said, I don’t have a pension funded by taxpayers. I’m having to saving for my own retirement, as well of the retirement of these wealthy government workers. Public sector benefits are paid by taxpayers in the private (free market) sector. We are the ones wh have to make products and services that consumers are actually willing to pay for in a free market. Unlike teachers, I can’t go on strike if I feel I’m not paid enough. If I go on strike, I’ll be fired. But they go on strike, holding children hostage to get more money. With no guarantee of improved student performance.

Joy also notes that teachers are actually vastly overpaid already, based on what their marketable skills:

[…][R]esearch finds teachers are overpaid by an average of 50 percent relative to their skills and mental abilities. The overage comes almost exclusively from their fat benefit packages.

The reason they complain about pay is because the majority of their pay is going into extravagant health care, paid time off, pension, paid training, etc. benefits. When you add back all those benefits, they’re being overpaid compared to an equivalent private sector worker.


Another factor that lowers student performance is that the fact that teachers are highly regulated. Instead of spending their time teaching students, they are forced to waste time doing other non-teaching tasks.

Joy explains:

Education regulations are almost always decided by non-teachers, and the effects are about what you would guess from that fact. Rather than benefiting students, these regulations typically require or justify ever-expanding employment for the very bureaucrat types who come up with them. I’m talking about things like teacher licensing mandates, which researchers have long found do not improve teacher quality and traffic in disproven education fads (but do provide easy-access cash cows for state departments of education and teacher colleges since teachers are required to keep buying their products to maintain certification); ever-increasing testing and data-entry mandates; centralized curriculum mandates like Common Core; centralized teacher evaluation and ratings systems; and the massive data entry required to document things like student behavior problems and special education services.

More money being wasted that doesn’t help students to learn more at all.

So what’s the solution?

The solution is to allow parents to choose who provides their children with an education, instead of having the money automatically taxed and spent by a massive secular left education bureaucracy. If teachers have their money in their hands, they will spend it where they can get the best quality for the best price – just like they do in every other area of their lives. That might be scary for teachers, administrators and indoctrinators, but in a free market, the parents should not be obligated to pay for something they don’t want. We should be concerned about the children first and foremost.

11 thoughts on “Will paying teachers more money improve student performance?”

  1. The libertarian in me wants to repost this. The decent man in me wants to hold off on reblogging since other people find me detestable. The bright side: I’m on my way. I could probably trigger a male teacher to learn to code or go to engineering school.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s touch, nobody wants to touch teachers, but I’m not mad at teachers. It’s the union, the administrators, the bureaucrats and the politically correct gatekeepers making the mess.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “The teachers say that spending more money on education will help children learn more.”
    I’m confused. Is the dough for education or teacher salaries? Those two things are not the same.


  3. So many things should also be modernized. Couldn’t they look at more computer aided learning in classes where people do well and have smaller classes for their weak areas with more personal focus.

    I am sure they could find a balance and blend that could allow more personal time to those that need it with no additional staff needed.

    And for people like myself that were faster at math than most the class we could work ahead and move to other work, rather than being slowed down by those that needed extra attention at that topic.


      1. At least where I live in Canada some high schools can have classes on electrical welding electronics. So besides those that can code if a person is more suited to a trade they can have a few classes in those areas.

        If you aren’t going to take sciences take some kind of trade before many of the arts that have next to no value or else pump out so many grads that for the few jobs there are they have way more grads than jobs that exist


      2. And sadly the media and Twitter don’t get that even the idea of learn to code has almost become more of a phrase than being literal. Not all need to actually program.

        But invest time and energy into a job that has a possibility, potential to earn and is in need. Studying your passion is useless at high cost to debt incurred if few jobs exist.

        And in social media realms those that could have used the learn to code advise in life, feel attacked because they don’t want actual life advice or to know how things actually work.

        They should be paid money for doing what they consider to be fun

        Liked by 1 person

  4. To supplement my day job, I teach two evenings a week as an adjunct instructor during the academic year in a 9 month welding program at a community college. I’ve taught for six years. I’ve never had any formal teacher training (which I would not want), yet I have received good evaluations in my classes that I teach. There’s a demand for skilled welders, machinists, and other trades out there, but counselors and parents often go to great extents to dissuade young people from pursuing trades, entry-level jobs, or even entrepreneurship. Some insights I have observed, IMO, about education, particularly higher education, at least on the CC level. While the rank-and-file instructors in the vocational programs are predominantly conservative, while the administration, almost all, hails from liberal universities. Incompetence is often celebrated and protected. Further, education is rife with blatant cronyism and nepotism, and the scams, loans, deception, and stringing along people who are not college material is alarming. Why does a guy who wants to get even a shot at an entry-level welding job need to take worthless classes in literature or gender studies? The PC and SJW shenanigans, and sensitivity training they put one through is also mind numbing. Many families in my parish home school, and there’s talk of starting a K-12 school. A coworker recently pulled his 10 year old out of the local public schools and is now home schooling him. The boy didn’t know who George Washington is, and little boys who identified as girls were going into the girls bathrooms.


  5. Good teachers want to teach, prepare the students for their lives ahead. And throughout their careers, find creative ways, in addition to the grinding work necessary, to teach lessons that will open their minds to understandings. And these teachers appreciate an increase in pay and other supports, but their love of teaching comes first. I remember working in one district and the discussion about pay increases and supplemental supports. But first, I wanted to earn those increases. If my students aren’t better prepared, and this came from my experiences in the private sector, then what does my raise signify? If I get paid more, but my students are less able, what lesson am I learning? Then the discussion might ensue into the materials used. Okay, then a discussion of the import of hiring good teachers but creating more individuality in lesson creation and distribution. Find good teachers they will put in upon themselves to raise the bar and prepare their students. Good teachers don’t want to see our standings among countries fall. We’re somewhere between #15 and #25 or more depending upon the subjects and scope. When I was growing up, we were #1. What can we do to better improve the quality of education in this country?

    Liked by 1 person

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