Saturday, February 3, 2007

Teacher Pay Per Hour

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research released a report by Jay Greene and Marcus A. Winters entitled "How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid? (Well, that is their website headline; the report is actually called Civic Report 50, that that doesn't tell you much!)

The full report can be viewed here:

How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?

There is a short synopsis here:

Wall Street Journal: Is $34.06 Per Hour 'Underpaid'? (02/02/07)

I don't know that I agree with the whole point of the report/article, but I think it adds value to the discussion and is a great "myth-buster".

From the report, TABLE 2 (here) is a short table that shows how the average hourly pay for teachers stacks up against other professions.

The interesting thing about this report is that it does take into account the extra time teachers put in -- and they do put in a lot of extra time -- but it also takes into account the extra time many of the other professionals also put into their jobs.

The report also takes a look at the number of hours put in per week by teachers nationally, and compares it to other professions locally. The data is found in Table 4A (found here).

I think we need to be careful looking at just the hourly rate. While teacher pay may be high when viewed as an hourly rate, it still doesn't compare as favorably when viewed as a annual rate, and that is undoubtedly a concern as we try to attract talented people into the profession.

The report does consider the annual compensation issue, but correctly points out:

"More important, we do not report annual earnings because any comparison between public school teachers and other workers is complicated by the fact that teachers typically are contractually obligated to work nine months out of the year, while other white-collar workers and professionals are 12-month employees. All else being equal, anyone working fewer months per year will have a lower annual salary.

But that would be an apple/orange comparison."

To make it more appealing as an annual rate will require fundimental changes in compensation structures, and that will be an enormous task.

First, schools should look at merit pay, which would reward those teachers that truly make a difference. Of course, the unions are generally opposed to that (see my entry on the Florida Merit Pay Plan).

Second, schools should consider higher annual pay but only if they tie it to year round school.

Third, schools need to examine their mix of salary and benefits, and the annual increases in both. Benefits are out of control, and rising much faster than inflation. Salaries, meanwhile, are governed by an out-of-date step system that was created in a completely different economic era. Teachers receive abnormally large pay raises for the first ten years, and then paultry raises after that.

This system requires a complete overhaul, not a few tweaks.

==> Mike.


Anonymous said...

Do not forget thought that this report does not take into account several things

1) Teachers do not "work" from 8-4 each day most teachers come in early and stay late

2) Many teachers do things such as grades (ESPECIALLY with the growing popularity of online report cards) and homework at HOME outside of the work day

3) Many teachers attend plays, recitials, performances of their students outside the school day

4) MANY teachers work DAYS in the summer preparing their classrooms

5) MANY teachers speand THOUSANDS ( I believe the most recent # I saw was an average of $2000 ayear) of their OWN MONEY on their classrooms

6) MANY teachers spend time on the phone calling parents OUTSIDE OF THEIR DAY

So please do not think that the "myth" is completely exposed becuase this report takes little of the outside world into account! I won't pretend I don't have an amazing job (yes I am a teacher) I get summers off, paid vacation, and all weekends off no matter what. However I do A LOT OF WORK and get little or no respect/thanks for it. Did this report take into account these things either

1) Does the average "white collar" worker have laws such as NCLB which require all kids to learn at all time, I don't think so

All in all I think every career had it's pros and cons and no one makes the money they should, however I hate when reports like this get spread around that give such a "black and white" view of anything.

Anonymous said...

So how much should people with master degrees and phds make? Serious question.

We seem to begrudge anyone in this country who makes more than the average Wal-Mart worker--and get in more riled if they dare have those nasty stock-eating things called "benefits."