Are Teachers Underpaid? Let's Find Out

If teachers believe they aren't making what they're worth, let's free them from union constraints and let them find out what the job market has to offer.



A teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor's degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 per year, which is less than the average auto repair worker. This grievance against salary injustice is nothing new, of course, but this particular example comes to us from a new national study by the Center for American Progress, which details the chicken feed teachers are forced to subsist on as they altruistically keep your hopeless children literate.

Teachers are underpaid. In politics and also in everyday life, this is almost universally accepted. Everyone admires teachers. Everyone wants good teachers for their children. And naturally, liberals believe that contrasting these salaries will emphasize the irrationality and unfairness of the marketplace.

But it doesn't. And the first and most obvious reason it doesn't is that teachers actually do quite well for themselves when you consider the economic realities of their profession.

A 2012 study conducted by The Heritage Foundation found that workers who switched from private employment to teaching most often took an hourly pay increase, whereas most of those who left teaching for the private sector took pay decreases. More specifically, a few years back, using Bureau of Labor Statistics and National Compensation Survey numbers, the Manhattan Institute looked at the hourly pay of public-school teachers in the top 66 metropolitan areas in the country. It found that teachers pulled in about $34.06 per hour. Journalists, who have the vital job of protecting American democracy, earned 24 percent less. Architects, 11 percent less. Psychologists, 9 percent less. Chemists, 5 percent less.

It's also worth asking what an average auto mechanic might be willing to give up for the security of tenure. What would a guaranteed pension and a lifetime of health care be worth to a plumber? Considering how hard unions fight to keep these things, I imagine they're worth quite a bit.

Then there is the matter of demand—or lack of it. According to Andrew Coulson at the Cato Institute, since 1970 the public-school workforce has roughly doubled, from 3.3 million to 6.4 million (predominately teachers), while over the same period, the enrollment of children rose by only 8.5 percen—or a rate that was 11 times slower. Recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality found that schools are training twice as many elementary-school teachers as they need every year.

With this kind of surplus, the question we really should be asking is: How are teachers' salaries so high?

The second and less obvious problem with the mechanic-teacher comparison is the snobbish suggestion— thrown around by teachers unions and their allies all the time—that working with your hands is less meaningful or valuable to society than working with kids.

Now auto technicians make an average of $35,790 nationally, with 10 percent of them earning more than $59,590, according to BLS data. According to a number of experts from large car companies, there will be a serious shortage of mechanics in the near future, as demand is expected to grow 17 percent from 2010 to 2020. That's 848,200 jobs, according to USA Today. And judging from the information, mechanics are asked to learn increasingly high-tech skills to be effective at their jobs. It wouldn't be surprising if their salaries soon outpaced those of teachers.

"The bottom line," says the Center for American Progress, "is that mid- and late-career teachers are not earning what they deserve, nor are they able to gain the salaries that support a middle-class existence."

Alas, neither liberal think tanks nor explainer sites have the capacity to determine the worth of human capital. And contrasting the pay of a person who has a predetermined government salary with the pay earned by someone in a competitive marketplace tells us little. Public-school teachers' compensation is determined by contracts negotiated long before many of them even decided to teach. These contracts hurt the earning potential of good teachers and undermine the education system. And it has nothing to do with what anyone "deserves."

So if teachers believe they aren't making what they're worth—and they may well be right about that—let's free them from union constraints and let them find out what the job market has to offer. Until then, we can't really know. Because a bachelor's degree isn't a dispensation from the vagaries of economic reality. And teaching isn't the first step toward sainthood. Regardless of what you've heard.


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  1. If they feel they are underpaid, they should dissolve the union and negotiate their own compensation package. It works for most other professions.

    1. Precisely.

      Trouble is, it won’t work for those exact people. I am a fully qualified teacher of English for any grade level, kindergarten through graduate school. I shopped myself around to private schools about 10 years ago, but they could not pay me what I needed to take the jobs because of the union scales.

      I now work in construction management making more than I would have after a 30-year career at the last private school that offered me a job, and I came into the business 10 years ago with no construction experience whatsoever.

      It’s not so much that the teachers who are there now are underpaid for what they do, as the salaries set by the unions place a distinct cap on the talent level that winds up in long-term teaching careers.

      Dissolving the union is the way to go, but don’t expect the teachers who are there now and who depend on that union to maintain the wages that they do get paid to ever think about dissolving it. They will die first.

      1. How did you make the switch from teaching English to construction management?

        1. One of my summer temp jobs was as an admin assist at a construction management firm. They liked me and I liked them, so I stayed and worked my way up the ranks.

      2. So you say the union wouldnt pay you what you needed ?
        And you think dissolving the union would raise the pay?

        Are you all insane?

  2. Don’t pubsec teachers typically make more than private school teachers? Case closed.

  3. How does the study define “hourly pay”? Just school hours?

    1. When I was teaching as a graduate student about 15 years ago I once did the math and figured I was making about $25/hr in real terms, but I also know that I spent about three times as long grading as my colleagues did (which was about 12 hours a week vs. their 6).

      At the time, when I was in my late 20s, it was far and away the best money I had ever made.

      1. I hope you weren’t being paid $25/hr to teach math?

        12 hrs/wk vs 6 hrs/wk is twice as long, not “three times as long”.

        1. well he did say he was an English teacher

          1. Thank you. Me no like math. That’s why me do English.

            1. And we dont need any more english teachers we need math teachers.

  4. There’s no need for some ‘equivalence’.
    Cut the compensation for teachers 10%. Still got people standing in line for the jobs? Cut another 10%.
    There is a market-clearing price for teachers as much as for those ‘guardians of democracy’, the journalists.

    1. That’s a very simplistic way to look at it. In the long run, the supply of teachers responds to incentives and teachers are not homogeneous widgets. If we were to implement your plan, you’d get the kind of people who are unable to get a job anywhere else. Thank you but I don’t really want a guy with a 2.0 GPA teaching math to my kids because everyone who was better decided that it made more sense becoming a mechanic instead.

      1. Yes – teachers need to be free to negotiate their own individual salaries.

        Once that happens, and only once that happens, teacher salaries (and quality) will start rising dramatically.

      2. Your argument is clearly demonstrated in Chicago, where the average teacher salary is higher than the average college grad salary and the graduation rate is… Oops, maybe your argument doesn’t hold after all.

      3. They may not be homogenous widgets but no one seems capable of a workable evaluation system. What we have now in many systems is the longer the tenure, the higher the wage. Not good. And I’ve always wondered what exactly is required to teach anything below college level. The basic rules of English and high school math have not changed in decades, for example.

        1. “What we have now in many systems is the longer the tenure, the higher the wage. Not good.”

          This is the worst poison in the system I think. Since wages are seniority-based, absolutely, there is no incentive for teachers to better themselves, or even avoid completely burning out over the course of their careers, as their wage will go up regardless.

          Combined with this, the unions get the most dues money out of the oldest teachers, since they have the highest wages, so the unions will fight much harder to save the job of an old, burnt out teacher than they will the job of a younger more energetic teacher.

          Before American Socialist shows up to chastise me for kicking the old teachers to the curb, if the pay was merit based, and not seniority based, the older teachers would have an incentive to utilize their experience to make themselves better teachers, rather than simply complacently settling in a pattern that becomes more and more mindless and ineffective with each passing year that it gets more expensive.

      4. But you’re already getting the GPA dregs with teachers. Education majors have lowest college entrance scores (as a group) and lowest gpa’s coming out of college. Sure there are some brilliant an dedicated teachers, but on the whole education majors tend to be the worst students.

        1. Education majors != teachers

          Teachers are about average for college grads. Not anywhere near all education majors become teachers.

          This hilariously stupid fallacy needs to die. I’m tired of correcting people on this.

          1. This hilariously stupid fallacy needs to die. I’m tired of correcting people on this.

            Truth hurts doesn’t it? Education majors do make up the majority of teachers, don’t they? All the really stupid ones don’t go into teaching but nuclear engineering? You are a poster for the dishonesty and imbecility of “teachers”.

            How can the most stupid segment of our society possibly teach anything but more stupidity?

      5. “Thank you but I don’t really want a guy with a 2.0 GPA teaching math”

        Please. You think public school teachers are math wizards now? I understood math better in 5th grade than my teacher, and she was otherwise fairly diligent.

        1. Your one anecdote sure proves everything.

          You SURE you were good at math?

      6. Thank you but I don’t really want a guy with a 2.0 GPA teaching math to my kids because everyone who was better decided that it made more sense becoming a mechanic instead.

        Especially since the government forces your neighbors to subsidize the cost of it! Amirite?

        The answer to the appropriate pay for teachers is obviously any amount negotiated between two private parties. I really couldn’t care less what you pay someone to teach your children. I care immensely how much of my money you take at gunpoint to pay someone to teach your children.

        1. See Square’s Post above. (7.25.14 @ 7:48PM)

          1. Gee at first I was touched because I thought you were referencing my argument that allowing teachers to individually negotiate their wages in a competitive, free-market environment would be the best thing for all concerned. Instead I find a nit-picking reference to a shot-from-the-hip typo related to a 15-year-old memory dredged up in 100 degree heat after half a bottle of wine.

            Guess the ideas matter less, though . . .

      7. DamienL|7.25.14 @ 7:27PM|#
        …”If we were to implement your plan, you’d get the kind of people who are unable to get a job anywhere else.”…

        What a sack of bullshit. How do you think any job’s compensation is determined.
        You think YOU know better than the market?

  5. Of course it makes perfect sense to compare the national average salary of an auto mechanic to the salary of a teacher in South Dakota. If you make $34k per year, you can afford a $140-150k house. That will net you 1,750 Sq. feet with 3-4 bedrooms. In a dual income household, you can pretty much afford any non-specialty property. And there’s no income tax.

    The one legitimate gripe for teachers in SD is that their union payscale is not accounting for the massive economic growth in the state. It is probably true that teachers are getting priced out of certain markets, but that only proves the point of the article.

    1. Exactly. The fact that they had to resort to SD to make their point shows how lame the whole thing is.

      1. Truly. Try asking what a teacher with ten years of experience makes in New Jersey. I assure you it is not $33,600. They were making more than that in 1983.

  6. $34k for 9 months work is awful, just awful! Why annualized that’s equivalent to the median, uh, er, nevermind.

    1. Is that how is it reported, on the basis of the 9 months actually worked? I always thought the numbers were annualized somehow. Anyone know?

      1. It’s for the nine months, yes. As a teacher, mostly you just don’t get a paycheck three months out of the year, so you go get a temp job (but I guarantee the income from the temp job is not being counted in these statistics).

  7. Sarcasm Button On:
    RE: Are Teachers Underpaid Let’s Find Out
    Comrades! The teachers at our government monopoly run, union driven re-education camps are doing a magnificent job of shaping the minds of future slaves for the state. Are these selfless drones of the state underpaid? Yes, they are! They need more money. More money always correlates to higher achievement. Just look at the billions of dollars that have been given to charities to cure cancer, MS, diabetes, etc. Do you even hear about such terrible diseases any more? It was the never ending money flow that has wiped them out! More money is always the answer to any solution. If we give more of our hard earned tax dollars, the literacy rates will sky rocket, discipline in schools will be unnecessary and our indoctrination specialists will not burn out or turn to more profitable careers. But we must have more money, more money, more money! Your money, not money from our glorious slave master elitists, otherwise they will not be able to purchase the latest Bentley, Louis Vitton handbag or that cashmere sports jacket. Money should not be a concern considering what the public schools has accomplished in the past fifty years. Just look at the literacy, science and math scores and you will understand why giving more money to the state schools is encouraged. So dig deep into your pockets, Comrades and give more so the state can give you less.
    Sarcasm Button Off

  8. I think thy are overpaid. We are constantly reminded how poor American students do on tests as compared with students from other countries. Don’t they bear much of the responsibility? They get three months off a year. They get off each holiday. Probably haven’t worked a weekend. Have a job for life unless they strike or make live to a student (or use a racial epithet if they are not of a protected class). And get a nice pension.

    1. Americans students do better than students from other countries when you disaggregate by race. I.e., in an apples-to-apples comparison, we have the best students.

      Soooo. You were saying?

      1. So you are saying that we have poor test scores not because public indoctrination sucks but because minorities are inferior? Gotcha. It isn’t the fault of those paid to teach, it is all that brown skin?

        Could there be a lower form of life than a public indoctrinator? Take a good salary, generous benefits and paid vacations and then claim that all of your poor results are the children’s fault.

  9. Hmmm . . . North Dakota doesn’t reflect what used to be the case here in Southern New England. In or around 1980, a public high school history teacher with 15 years’ experience earned $43,000 ($14,000 more than my full-professor-at-a-private-college mom). In 1990, a public school (don’t know what level – she was the daughter of a co-worker) teacher with 15 years’ experience earned $60,000. I’m assuming that between budget cuts and charter schools’ introduction here, salaries for public school teachers in our area have not grown to match those rates. I do know that public school teachers here still earn more than those teaching at the private schools, and I had a friend at a hippie New Hampshire private school where the teachers in the 1980s qualified for welfare. Of course, private schools actually have math majors teach math, history majors teach history, and in some states they don’t even need a special certificate to teach. As for pointing this out to statists, they respond, “Oh, well, but the atmosphere/environment is completely different.” I think we need to spend more money on janitors, security and social workers in the public schools. And my mom (the college professor) pointed out when I was in grammar school: “I can tell who the education majors are. Business majors are dumb [this was in the 1970s when getting a business degree wasn’t a norm]. Education majors are even dumber.”

    1. …”As for pointing this out to statists, they respond, “Oh, well, but the atmosphere/environment is completely different.””

      Yeah, your kid won’t learn a thing, but the kid will be ‘socialized’ to all the other little thugs.

  10. The best part is the controlled experiment:
    “workers who switched from private employment to teaching most often took an hourly pay increase, whereas most of those who left teaching for the private sector took pay decreases.”

    They’re getting paid more than they can get in the private sector, coming or going.

    1. I wonder if that could have something to do with the fact that when teachers move to the private sector, they’re leaving behind the skills and credentials they’ve developed through an undergrad and masters level education? Because a master’s degree in high school english education doesn’t command a lot of premium in the office manager market.

  11. Also note the comparison of *salary*.

    For how many months a year, for how many actual working days? Benefits? Tenure? How about retirement benefits?

    How about we look at the total compensation/total hours worked?

    1. How about we look at the total compensation/total hours worked?

      The benefits are extremely generous but if you include them then the martyrs of the public indoctrination system don’t look nearly as “underpaid”, so let’s not mention it.

  12. I was always disgusted by my teachers work ethics, homework assignments were either graded by ourselves or just given an “effort” grade so that the teacher didn’t have to actually look at the things. Tests were all scantron so they didn’t have to put effort into those either. And we were always watching some movie or another with only the slightest thing to do with the subject, I swear I saw school-house rock every year in English class from first grade till I finally dropped out. In “social studies” a kind of pseudo history class we watched that one musical (can’t remember the name) about the continental congress to learn about the revolution, we watched “Pocohantas” and “Peter Pan” to learn about the Indians, and “Pearl Harbor” to learn about WWII.

    Please, let that soak in for a minute, my classmates education of WWII is limited to watching Ben Affleck smile for the camera and get the girl.

    Sorry but with school turning into a glorified day care I don’t think teachers deserve to be paid more.

  13. Amen. Finally, an analysis and one that proves what I’ve suspected all along. The plight of teachers is exaggerated. I admire the influential teachers in my life, from every walk of life…but I don’t worship any group of pubic servants including teachers, soldiers, firefighters and especially cops.

    No more martyrdom or sacrifice. People are paid to do jobs and lay it on the line. Not good enough? Open the doors, let the feet do the voting.

  14. I think it would be swell if the military had a union. I think that would be a large enough fiasco our country might ditch public sector unions.

  15. I wouldn’t say that Public school teachers are underpaid, so much as they are either overworked or hamstrung by bureaucracy. The oft-cited $70k earners are all working in major metropolitan areas, where the salaries (and cost of living) are higher regardless of profession. This is a more balanced view of what teachers are making: http://www.teacherportal.com/t…..-by-state/

    Based on what my S.O. has encountered over a decade of primary school teaching, it seems that being a specialist is the way to go if you really want to teach kids and enjoy it. The general ed teachers seem to get shat on constantly, between SOLs, benchmarks, auditors, inclusion programs (AKA let’s toss the behavioral nutcases in with the rest of the class to “normalize” them), etc.

    It was painful to watch her suffer through a year teaching in a crappy inner-city school. She is an awesome teacher and also the peppiest person I know, and I could watch the life drain out of her over the course of the schoolyear, thanks to the city’s inept management and soul-crushing bureaucracy. School administrators here seem to have no problem with cooking their books either- let’s just say on paper, her class size was about 2/3 what it really was during the school year. I won’t even go into how many SPED kids they dumped on her “inclusion” class…

  16. It was painful to watch her suffer through a year teaching in a crappy inner-city school.

    Not nearly as painful as it will be watching her get assimilated by the Socialist Borg. My younger sister has been a pub sec indoctrinator for 20 years. She is so lost in the abject idiocy and evil that public indoctrination represents that I avoid her as much as possible. Any discussion of her job makes me want to choke the stupid out of her. Stupid and evil.

    Tell your S.O to get out now while she still can. She will not be able to retain her job and her soul. She will have to choose one or the other, like the majority before her.

    1. An amusing point. I wonder how many right now would describe their jobs as soul destroying? I bet even some doctors and more than a few lawyers, all six figures.

      I still don’t feel sorry for them.

  17. Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

  18. Interesting that there’s a glut of elementary school teachers. It’s been a few years now, but when my brother in law quit his engineer job at IBM and decided to get his teaching certificate he had districts lining up offers because of the lack of science and math teachers, especially at the HS level.

    When I was in college Elementary Ed was known as “majoring in Crayola.” Even we music majors thought it was a cakewalk. I doubt there’s many people who could effectively teach a pre-college HS math or science course (effective being the keyword), but herding 8 year olds is something just about anyone can do. But as I understand it, the only factor in pay is tenure. So where’s the motivation for someone who’s a good teacher (and it is a skill) to expand their abilities and move into a challenging subject? Of course the answer is, thanks to the union-schoolboard-Dept of Education cabal there’s none. If we (those of us footing the bill) would demand good teachers be encouraged to take on the more difficult subjects (nothing encourages like cash and nothing shows accomplishment like net worth), perhaps we could fix our problems with STEM education.

    But then again, if the problem is fixed, what the hell are we going to do with all those bureaucrats and their “fresh ideas?”

    1. “herding 8 year olds is something just about anyone can do”


      catches breath


      sure, go ahead.

      1. “herding 8 year olds is something just about anyone can do”


        Fuck off and die, thief. My 13 year old is capable of teaching 8 year old children. True, he wouldn’t be able to teach them to be Socialists, like you clearly do.

        1. Read any of my posts and tell me I’m a socialist.

          Fuck off, Tulpa.

  19. Here in NC we don’t have teacher’s unions, but they still have the same type of tenure system and pay structure (pay based solely on seniority). The governor proposed what I felt was a very reasonable plan to increase the starting pay, but then all the longer-serving teachers got into a tizzy because of course they ALL deserve a 10+ % raise. Never mind that the highest-senior teachers are already making over $50,000/year, whereas those with less than 5 years barely make $30,000. I can understand paying teachers more for the first 2 or 3 years, since statistically it does take about that long to get the hang of things, but after that any pay increases should be performance-based. A tenured teacher with 25 years experience doesn’t automatically deserve to make 70% more than another teacher doing the same type of work who has 5 years experience.

    1. That should have said “I can understand paying teachers LESS for the first 2 or 3 years”

    2. Our State has a similar set-up, as we are a right-to-work state. They have a “Teacher’s Association” lobby group instead of a union. Tenure still seems to carry a lot of weight though, especially in the urban districts. Anecdotally, they also follow a “first hire- first fire” philosophy, so there is more churn among newer/younger teachers, while the senior ones have incredible staying power regardless of their (in)competence level.

      I may yet convert the S.O. to switch to the private sector, in spite of the likely pay cut. One of my friends just got a teaching job at a private school, and seeing how much freedom he has to teach will be a big temptation. I also think another year of dealing with what I would call her “barnacle” coworkers, will have her seeking greener pastures as well.

  20. “A teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 per year, which is less than the average auto repair worker.”

    Ah, so we’re comparing an early mid career teacher in SD with nationwide auto repair workers? And that makes sense… why?

    I just checked (indeed.com): an average teacher in SD makes about 30% more than an average auto repair technician in SD.

    Of course, personally, I think it ought to be reversed: I’m trusting the auto repair technician with my life, and he actually needs a high level of technical skill.

  21. Oh, this is precious:

    “Teachers with 10 years of experience who are family breadwinners often qualify for a number of federally funded benefit programs designed for families needing financial support.”

    Probably the majority of Americans “qualify” for such programs now, given the vast expansion of federal government programs. Brilliant circular reasoning!

  22. Not to disagree with your conclusion (I haven’t given it much thought) but one difficulty with analyzing teacher pay under free market rules is that k-12 teachers generally face a single source for employment – the local public school board. Not the multiple employers that theory generally expects. And not one with easy necessarily easy access to capital (stingy taxpayers).
    Of course many large school boards also face a single supplier of teachers – the union.
    So too high or too low may not be the issue. It may be “can a equilibrium price be met” in the politics of local public education?

  23. I sent this article to a teacher whom I respect. This was their reply:

    “This article is bullshit. I hope you dont believe everything you read on the internet. The article could only possibly account for the hours spent in the school doing work. I spend 7 hours a day from 7:30am to 2:30pm five days a week officially in school. Thats a total of 35 hours a week. I arrive at school at 6:30, one hour earlier than school starts, to prepare my class everyday. I usually leave school around 4:30, thats two hours after school ends for the day, grading and making parent phone calls for the day. That adds up to an extra 15 hours in a five day week. The total for my average monday to friday is around 50 hours a week adding together my official hours and my additional daily hours. Now, on the weekend I do get to relax for a day on saturday. However, on sunday I spend about four hours planning my next week and grading from the previous week. My total week is now up to 54 hours.
    On average there are 40 weeks in a school year. Of those 40 weeks three are vacation weeks. Let’s take our total down to 37 weeks. I would like to acknowledge though that even on a vacation week I still spend four hours grading and planning on sunday.

  24. Continued

    To bring in some extra money I coach cross country and direct the drama club. Cross country is from 2:30-4:30, two hours everyday five days a week for 10 weeks. A total of 100 hours. Drama club goes from 2:30-5:30, three hours a day five days a week for 10 weeks as well. Drama club is a total of 150 hours. I make an extra $1000 for each club.
    Let’s do a little math here. 37 weeks at 54 hours a week comes to 1, 998 work hours. Add in the three vacation weeks and the four hours I work in each. 1,998 work hours plus 12 vacation work hours comes to 2,000 work hours. When I add in the 100 hours for cross country and the 150 hours for drama club I come up with a total of 2,250 work hours in a year.

    Now, Last year I made $50,000 a year as an inner city school teacher with no masters and one year of teaching experience. If I add in the $1000 for cross country and the $1000 for drama club, I have made $52,000 for the year. If I divide $52,000 by the 2,250 hours I work in a year I come up with an hourly rate of $23.11 per hour. Not the $34.06 per hour that they seem to think teachers make in that article.

    I must point out that I do teach in Massachusetts, one of the highest paying public school states in the country. Those poor teachers in South Dakota are really getting the shaft. “

    1. Cool story, bro. No one else has to prep for work on weekend, or work unpaid overtime during the week.

      As noted in the article, if and when there’s a “shortage” of people willing to take these jobs, that will tell us we’re not paying enough. But people are lined up around the block for teacher openings in most markets.

      Hope your friend has some cheese, and either quits to find more remunerative work or shuts the fuck up.

    2. People coach (or run the drama club, etc.) for one of two reasons:

      1. They love the sport/activity, and are willing to “work” for less than minimum wage in the job. If MONEY were the primary motive, there are many better choices for a teacher.

      2. Coaching endears the employee to the school administration. It’s a way to try to get a leg up on competitors — especially if planning to move out of teaching into school administration (ever notice how may school admin folk are former coaches?).

  25. PS Just for shits and grins, my wife just quit teaching after ~20, 25 years. So we have some first hand experience with the Borg, which she rejected, and is the reason she quit.

  26. If that salary was quite enough they wouldn’t look for additional part-time job. Some teachers confess that work for writing companys as freelance writers ( http://writemyessaybright.com/ for eg.) to allow themself better living conditions. The payroll system must be revised

  27. What REASON missed in this story is the biased nature of the source. The Center for American Progress is an uber-liberal think tank, putting out biased material carefully designed to sell their progressive agenda.

    Aside from the suspect nature of their data, their presentation is designed to mislead both journalists and the public. They use as “an example” South Dakota, likely the lowest paying state in the nation (for MOST jobs — not just teaching).

    Then the survey uses as the benchmark teachers with BA’s with 10 years experience. Sloppy journalists reporting this survey sometimes equate “10 years” to AVERAGE teacher pay (I’ll post an example shortly). Moreover, the pay carefully omits anyone with a masters degree or higher (usually a degree in edubabble from some slipshod “university,” but that’s another matter). 52% of teachers have such an advanced degrees, and are paid much more as a result.

    Indeed, many states such as California pay more if teachers simply take some undergraduate courses over at the local community college. And BTW the average CA public school teacher’s pay is over $70,000 — plus GREAT benefits and rock solid tenure.

  28. We are hearing here how teachers can’t make it on teacher salary (presumably each living in a single salary abode), so they have to get jobs in the summer. That USED to be more freqeuently the case, but now, not so much.

    Go to the original progressive biased “study,” the last chart. http://www.americanprogress.or…..y-incomes/

    Turns out that nationwide only 16.1% of teachers seek any sort of summer employment. In high COL California, it’s 12%.

  29. Are public teachers overpaid? Yes.

    A simple criteria seldom considered is the pay in PRIVATE K-12 schools. Private schools (which arguably provide a superior education at a much lower cost) pay their teachers less — and the private teachers’ benefits are far inferior to the sweet deals public school teachers get.

  30. If you got to the original report, you can see that they hype the fact that Canadian teachers here modestly higher paid than U.S. teachers. But what they don’t tell is that, adjusted for C.O.L., U.S. teachers are actually significantly better paid than Canooks.

    Nifty website below allows C.O.L. comparisons between Canadian and U.S. cities.

  31. Everyone bashing the ‘teachers union’ needs to come to grips with the fact that there are natural experiments – right to work states do not have any effective sort of unions (teacher or otherwise). This is certainly the case where I live in Virginia. There are other nearby states (MD, PA) which do have teachers’ unions – so there’s side-by-side. Result? There is a rough pay equity between union and non-union locations – but the non-union locations have much inferior working conditions and job stability.

  32. utopia27 — Your “much inferior working conditions” is just made up nonsense. Show your source.

    Your “inferior . . .job stability” translates into tenure protection of incompetent teachers. Gosh, you’re a teacher, right? Incompetent? Need tenure protection? Hmmm . . . .

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