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%).