NBER's August digest lists a March working paper examining the effect of teacher certification, mandatory for public school teachers in most states. They found that, while it has no measurable effect on teacher quality, it does tend to push up salaries. Call this one an illustration of the law of intended consequences.

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  1. Julian’s comment (“the law of intended consequences”) suggests that the paper concludes that the type of teacher certification that teacher unions favor leads to increased salaries. But there are two types of teacher certification: (1) the kind where you have to have a degree from ed school or so many credits of ed classes, and (2) the kind where you have to pass the NTE or other test of basic skills. Most states have #1, and some states are also adopting #2. Generally speaking, teacher unions favor #1 and oppose #2. But judging by the abstract, the paper is not about #1, but #2.

  2. Anybody at Reason want to pony up 5 bucks so we can read the paper?

  3. Akali,

    When it comes to the teacher’ unions and their net effect on the quality of education, it is always a mater of steady stream of #1 and a large pile of #2.

  4. Lemme try to follow:

    1) We need more teachers in classrooms because that is good.

    2) We need to restrict the supply of teachers so that the value of each in the labor market is increased because that is also good.

    3) We want to legislate one flavor of education into favored status, forcing anyone who wants another brand to buy the favored version as well. We do this to prevent competition, because it is bad.

    Taking 1, 2, and 3 together, we either:

    A) Find it highly desirable to have artificially expensive education that is by definition non competitive, or

    B) Plan on suing Microsoft as a monopoly to offset our extra expenses. Because monopolies are bad …

  5. The study looks specifically at the standardized tests, yes… though according to the authors, such tests are already a certification requirement in 43 states.

  6. Aren’t these effects a lot like those of the generic Bachelor’s degree?

  7. You did not hear this from me, but you can
    often save the $5 by going to the web page
    of one of the authors. Most economists post
    their papers on their university web pages
    where downloading is free of charge.

  8. Also, if you have a friend at some sort of research institution, those will often have an institutional subscription via which the papers can be downloaded at no charge.

  9. Accrediting schemes have always been a mixed bag. Also they are not guarantee of quality.

    BTW, if the teacher does a crappy job, does that mean he/she can be sued for malpractice? 🙂 Oh I can already see a budding litigation industry growing. 🙂

  10. Ssssshhh! Don’t encourage Ron Bailey.

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