Civitas Review

Are public school teachers underpaid?

By | Posted in Education |

A new Heritage Foundation study by Jason Richwine and Andrew Biggs asks an important question – especially in light of our stagnant economy, budget reductions and repeated calls for protecting or adding to our  investment in public education–  are public school teachers fairly compensated?  After an extensive analysis the uthors conclude that public school teachers salaries are comparable to similarly-skilled private sector occupations. However, when you factor in the more generous fringe benefits – including tenure, health care, pensions and job security –total public school teacher compensation is 52 percent above pay what their skill levels would match in the private sector. According to Richwine and Biggs, this amounts to an overcharge on taxpayers of about $120 billion a year.

Interestingly, page 17  of the same study  lists a table of retiree health coverage costs for teachers, in select urban areas and states, as a percentage of salaries. The area with the highest percentage of retiree health coverage costs as a percent of salaries? Milwaukee Wisconsin (17.3 percent).  In an effort to bring state expenditures under control, earlier this year Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker successfully passed sweeping reforms to the state’s collective bargaining contract with teachers. The area with the second highest retiree health coverage costs for teachers, as a percentage of salaries: North Carolina (12.5%).

3 Comments on this post

  • WNC momma says:
    Nov 04 at 16:35

    Teachers in NC are very underpaid. The Republican speaker of the house recently gave his aide a raise which alone was more than a teacher's salary. And our benefits are standard. My brother and husband both work for big corporations and their benefits far surpass mine; FYI- I also hold a higher degree than either of them yet they make substantially more than I do- and as for the insurance costs -there is a simple explanation…Please allow me to "school" Mr. Luebke-
    The reason NCs health insurance costs are so high is simple… Over the years Teacher's families have been priced out of the state coverage. Insurance for a teacher and family is over 500.00 a month. I am a teacher and I insure my children with my husbands insurance through his company for 115.00 a month. That kind've bursts your bubble of falsehoods about how sweet public school teacher's benefits are-
    Healthy people who can get insurance can do so for a fraction of what the state charges teachers, therefore we have only teachers and retired teachers on the plan – very few healthy family members can afford ins. This drives up costs. DUH!! really easy to understand yet seemingly beyond Mr. Luebkes grasp. I have actually been confused by this gentlemans understanding of many issues; but usually I discover the confusion is his not mine. I would research more Mr. Luebke rather than rely on fake foundations like Heritage or you maybe you just like being wrong.

  • aynrandfacist says:
    Nov 04 at 16:53

    Yeah the study is totally bs…. changed pvt. sector contributions to social security to 2% v. the 6.2% they really are… decided that so called "job security is worth 10% pay bump for public teachers and dbl. counted public teachers retiree benefits.. Conservatives are so lazy now they don't even bother to lie well. So basically what we have here is the AEI and Heritage version of "research." If the plain numbers show one thing, but you're funded to prove another, then just start changing numbers around until you get the conclusion you want. So a six percent becomes a two, for no good reason, and the Heritage notion of "cushy job security" becomes a 9.3 percent addition tacked on to the public sector worker, which is then pointed to as obvious evidence that they have too damn much job security and we need to reduce it some.

    According to what more normal people call "math" or "facts," this argument has been long settled. We've covered those earlier findings here and here, among other places, and the facts remain that public workers are both compensated slightly less than private sector workers, and tend to be more highly educated than their private sector counterparts, which would suggest that maybe in a "free market" world they'd be getting paid more, not less.

    If the only way conservative think tanks can counter those findings is to just start making up numbers until they get the results they want to get, that should tell you a few things about just how in-the-tank their "thinkers" are.

  • aynrandfacist says:
    Nov 04 at 16:55

    sorry I did not source the last part of my post..Patrick Henry Press