Public School Myths Busted

One of the 10 Great Liberal Myths is the Myth of the Selfless Public School Teacher.

Because all public ed teachers are government employees, most are Democrats and many are union members, and thus their status is all totally overblown by the Media Left.

Oh, the media slobber all over them. They say that these teachers are underpaid, are servants of the people, are the most important workers in our society. Blah, blah, blah… We have Teacher of the Year. We have Teacher of the Hour, Teacher of the Minute. The hype is endless.

And of course it always refers to public school teachers and never to the private school, charter school or Catholic school teachers who genuinely are interested in education and who show hugely better results for lower salaries.

In fact public school teacher unions do everything they can to crush any alternatives to public education so that the public will not see any real comparison. Even today such comparisons are squelched in the media.

This whole public school teacher farce is part of an agenda to elevate government bureaucrats and empower socialism, as we watch public education get worse and worse with every passing year while we spend more and more money.

(In an optimistic sign of the times and a growing recognition of reality, however, Colorado voters recently voted 2-to-1 to defeat a proposal to raise taxes $3 billion for education.)

In other words, it is being proven that monopolies indeed are corrupt. Because a monopoly exists in our public schools without a word of protest from the media and the Democrats. And that monopoly does exactly what they always do – it concentrates wealth and power and reduces quality.

We know these teachers. Most of them work about 1,300 hours a year compared to 2,000 hours for most workers. And so if a teacher is making “the same annual salary” as a private-sector worker, do the math and you will find that they actually are making about 50% more per hour of actual work.

This little inconvenient truth is always left out of media reports about teacher salaries. But don’t let this reality interfere with the media-created image of teachers as self-sacrificing servants working “for the children”.

What a crock… Half these teachers are out the door before the students when their exhausting day is over at… 2:30 in the afternoon. Poor dears.

And, yes, we know about the teachers who work hard and care about their students. They definitely exist and we respect them. Some are Republicans and conservatives and some are even Democrats. But they are the minority and they keep quiet.

Because the bureaucratized, unionized public education system generally keeps motivated, independent and intelligent people at bay, drawing in certain people who will go along with the public ed shadow play, just like anyone in any government agency or any union.

Now a new study has been released by the always-wonderful Heritage Foundation (heritage.org) called ‘Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers’ by Jason Richwine, Ph.D and Andrew Biggs. And it blows the lid off the old canard that teachers are underpaid. You can read the whole report here

The report’s executive summary states:

‘First, formal educational attainment, such as a degree acquired or years of education completed, is not a good proxy for the earnings potential of school teachers. Public-school teachers earn less in wages on average than non-teachers with the same level of education, but teacher skills generally lag behind those of other workers with similar “paper” qualifications. We show that:

  • The wage gap between teachers and non-teachers disappears when both groups are matched on an objective measure of cognitive ability rather than on years of education.
  • Public-school teachers earn higher wages than private-school teachers, even when the comparison is limited to secular schools with standard curriculums.
  • Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent. This is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid.

Second, several of the most generous fringe benefits for public-school teachers often go unrecognized:

  • Pension programs for public-school teachers are significantly more generous than the typical private-sector retirement plan, but this generosity is hidden by public-sector accounting practices that allow lower employer contributions than a private-sector plan promising the same retirement benefits.
  • Most teachers accrue generous retiree health benefits as they work, but retiree health care is excluded from Bureau of Labor Statistics benefits data and thus frequently overlooked. While rarely offered in the private sector, retiree health coverage for teachers is worth roughly an additional 10 percent of wages.
  • Job security for teachers is considerably greater than in comparable professions. Using a model to calculate the welfare value of job security, we find that job security for typical teachers is worth about an extra 1 percent of wages, rising to 8.6 percent when considering that extra job security protects a premium paid in terms of salaries and benefits.

We conclude that public-school-teacher salaries are comparable to those paid to similarly skilled private-sector workers, but that more generous fringe benefits for public-school teachers, including greater job security, make total compensation 52 percent greater than fair market levels, equivalent to more than $120 billion overcharged to taxpayers each year. Teacher compensation could therefore be reduced with only minor effects on recruitment and retention. Alternatively, teachers who are more effective at raising student achievement might be hired at comparable cost.’

Wow. $120 billion. Yet what is the mantra coming every day out of the public schools?

Answer: That they are running out of money. That they need higher taxes and bake sales and private donations to keep running. (Average public school teacher salary today is $35 an hour, excluding benefits and pension. This even applies to failed systems in many of our cities where teachers often make the highest salaries of all.)

Baloney. This fraud has been building for decades. It is a classic leftist trick like the myth of the destitute poor in America many of whom actually have a much higher standard of living than many people who are not on the dole.

No, that $120 billion is already built into the system but is buried in the paperwork so that citizens don’t really know what is going on.

Indeed every time there is any question at all about school funding, the unions go running to the newspapers crying armageddon. Nonsense. Public education in America is a roughly $550 billion a year industry. And $120 billion is waste. Let’s see, that’s about 22% waste on top of all the other waste. Which is about right for the government.

Yet there they are every day, every week, every month, the poor-mouth teachers asking for more, more, more. Because that is the way that unions always operate – no matter how high your salary already is, claim that it isn’t enough and then demand more.

This is classic socialism. Read the full Heritage Foundation report for more truth about the public education system and teacher salaries.

Please visit my blog at www.nikitas3.com for more conservative insights.