Are teachers overpaid?

Two authors of a controversial paper from the Heritage Foundation suggest that teachers are overpaid for their efforts. Here is my response.

The US economy dropped by 15.6% in 2009 for a total loss of $2, 342, 400, 000, 000. The people responsible for this disaster to the economy almost all received million dollar bonuses for their efforts.

From this I can deduce that the relationship between compensation for one’s "work" and what one does, or knows how to do, is not as straight forward as the authors of this paper claim.

All compensation is political. We choose to compensate some people differently than others for historical reasons, for political reasons, and obviously for economic reasons, but to ignore the historical and political aspects of compensation is to make a grave error in one’s research.

Thoughts? Do you think teachers are overpaid?





  • Simply put, no, I do NOT think teachers are overpaid. I just don’t understand what they mean when they say that a teacher earns more money than a similarly educated or trained private sector person. What private sector jobs with the equivalent of a BA, a Masters, 100’s of clock hours of relevant and job specific courses, wokshops and trainings, and a National Board certification makes less than a teacher? Because those people seriously need a raise.

    Frankly, I compare a teacher to a lawyer, a doctor, or a business person. I heard a quote at a presentation yesterday where someone who tried teaching for a year compared what we do to a doctor working an ER during a natural disaster. And we do that everyday! So yes, I think teachers should be making 100K/year and more; base none of this merit pay crap. Yes, I think teachers should team teach and by that I don’t mean two teachers get 60 kids. No, teams of two or three teachers should be able to work with 24 or so kids. And YES, I think teachers should get access to the resources their students need to succeed and learn. Be that curriculum, books at different levels for differentiation, and all the technology and infrastructure necessary for learning to occur in the 21st century. Kids should have access to filed trips and outdoor Ed. So not only are teachers underpaid, students are underpaid (rather underfunded). No one can or will budge me on this one. I have my own children and I want the very best for them, and all children deserve the very best so they can do their best and do a better job running this planet.

  • I think this is an interesting issue. But would anyone admit to being overpaid? I doubt it. Except perhaps those who make so much money they are obligated to say it just so they don’t look like assholes. Like famous actors.

    I think you hit the nail on the head in your analysis. The concept of “overpaid” is completely subjective.

    What Heritage is suggesting is that there is some wiggle room in current teacher salaries; that we could continue to attract high-quality teachers even if we offered them less money/benefits (most of the compensation they talk about in that report is benefits, not cash).

    That’s a different thing than saying that we *should* pay teachers less money, or in some way compensate them less. It’s just pointing out that we probably could and the education sector wouldn’t suffer for it.

    Personally, I want teachers as happy and as effective as possible. Same with firefighters and policemen. High wages and good benefits seem to be a good way to get that ball rolling.

    But, as a necessary corollary to that: I think it should be way easier to fire a bad teacher, policeman, firefighter, etc.

  • Every so often, usually at budget time, this argument comes out again… that teachers are overpaid.

    These are some easy political talking points to score… big bad teachers and their big bad unions.

    I think you get what you pay for. Pay low wages, over work and over stress your teachers and you’re going to get dumb kids.

    I feel teachers should be paid at least as much as middle managers if not more. Salaries should start in the $60k range and should have upside potential to get them into the $100k+ range.

    Any other profession that works similar hours and managed 30+ people gets paid more.

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