Pages: 1 2
Moreover, the study said, “generous fringe benefits for public school teachers often go unrecognized.” Pension programs are “significantly more generous.” But this is hidden by “private-sector accounting practices.”
“Most teachers accrue generous retiree health benefits.” But it is excluded from BLS benefits data. “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, which the study calculated into the value of overall compensation. So, total compensation was calculated to be “52 percent higher than fair market levels.”
An ironic aspect of teacher compensation involves union dues.
Teachers unions or professional associations operate in all 50 states. Teachers have hundreds of dollars deducted from their pay. This fact should tend to reduce compensation. But it doesn’t overall.
Union dues money is regularly channeled to use as political donations. Even though these dollars cut the total compensation of teachers, their overall compensation tops the pay of most private sector workers.
It is not surprising that when “paycheck protection” laws force unions to get teachers’ permission before using their money for political purposes, teachers nearly always say “no.”
When given the opportunity to opt out of pay going for political donations, in Utah, for instance, only 6.8 percent of teachers went along with such contributions; in Washington State only 6 percent. That’s why unions fight tooth and nail against “payroll protection.”
The largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), has used much of its $337 million in dues it forcibly collects yearly as support to left-wing groups such as ACORN and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Kim Anderson, advocacy director for NEA, representing about three million members, said she questions the reliability of the Heritage-AEI research. “Does AEI honestly purport that paying teachers even less will help raise the quality of teaching in American schools?”
The Heritage and AEI scholars wrote that there are two major ways to account for skill differences between teachers and non-teachers. One is to look at occupations with similar skill requirements as teaching. The Manhattan Institute recently reported public school teachers earn an hourly salary 11 percent higher than professional specialty and technical worker, and 36 percent higher than white collar workers generally.
At the federal level, the government hires and promotes employees who have less experience and education than private sector workers in similar occupations. The authors’ preferred data set for worker-to-worker comparisons was the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS).
Teacher advocates claim that pensions are modest. In Illinois, pension funding has been especially controversial. The state’s retirement system has pointed to an average pension of $43,000. But that’s not an average for teachers retiring today. Current figures show retirees between 55 and 59 can look forward to average benefits of $55,893.
The Heritage-AEI study concludes that fundamental reform of teacher compensation “would scrap the existing rewards for education and experience–and instead pay market rates to teachers who are measurably effective.”
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2