A popular concept is to believe that public school teachers are terribly underpaid in comparison to other professions. The Time article posted here (http://time.com/4125729/teacher-pay-global-study/) tries to back up such a claim by using an OECD study that found teachers around the world were on average underpaid when compared to other workers in other jobs with the same level of education. Is such a belief really the case?

Though the article makes such a case, such reasoning actually has a problem. Comparing different professions with different expectations and skills is disingenuous on it’s face. Just because two people went through the same number of years of education doesn’t mean that both will have the same skill or applicability. There are other things, from market pressures to individual drives, personalities, and talents that can lead to different outcomes of labor efficiency. Not to mention that different professions will involve different rigorous study expectations, and therefore different financial opportunities (how else will people willingly put themselves in those fields where they could be in danger on a daily basis?). Architects tend to generally be paid more than other workers of the same education, yet no one would make the claim that they are overpaid. In contrast, the education degree, which about half of all teachers have, is considered among the least rigorous fields of study. Therefore, more financial opportunities will possibly not be in the running for such degrees.

The OECD study also doesn’t include fringe benefits, which leaves a much more limited analysis since most public sector jobs weigh more to pension and health benefits than those in the private sector do. If such data is looked into, it is found that the average public school teacher has more than double the benefits package that the average private-sector firm worker receives. Combine that with rigid tenure regulations and such, and job security for teachers also tends to be higher than those in the private sector. Few teachers tend to leave for a different job, and most of the time even then aren’t able to get a higher-paying one.

Perhaps it would be effective to focus on retaining those professors that are good at their job with good payment, but hardly does it seem that a general one-size-fits-all pay increase will be the answer. Getting to more merit-based policies for good teachers, while also curtailing tenure regulations so that those that aren’t can be fired and replaced more efficiently, will probably be far better…for it will return the industry to what is most important…education.

Extra Links:

http://www.jasonrichwine.com/2014/07/about-half-of-teachers-have-education.html

https://www.aei.org/publication/assessing-the-compensation-of-public-school-teachers/

If Teachers are Underpaid, Why Don’t They Earn More When They Move to Other Professions?

http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/our-publications-and-findings/publications/impacts-of-the-teach-for-america-investing-in-innovation-scaleup

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/10/assessing-the-compensation-of-public-school-teachers

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