Do teachers (and taxpayers) understand total compensation?

Posted By on July 9, 2012


I’ve struggled with the “teachers are underpaid” debate arguing that we are often talking apples and oranges when comparing teachers, school district employees and management level administrators to the private sector. Those working in small businesses, corporations and the self-employed entrepreneurs make up the states private workforce and their taxes pay public sector and school salaries and they need to know there is some parity in pay and total compensation. Neither side of this debate has done a fair comparison … in my opinion … and each group, private sector, public sector and public education has a different structure for pay, job security, benefits, vacation time and most notably in recent years, retirement pensions.

The Heritage Foundation’s Jason Richwine discusses the issue of total compensation and benefits with Choice Media TV’s Bob Bowdon in this short clip … and has a couple suggestions that make sense (but will never happen) that increases a teachers pay (particularly in their early years) and suggests that we should structure their retirement pensions similar to the private sectors 401Ks.

As I see it, paying educators needs an overhaul. We no longer need to operate schools that operate 9 months a year and are only teaching students 6 hours per day. Our cost per student could be reduced if facilities were used all year and functioning two shifts each day. Teachers could initially be given the option to work more hours per year and their pay, vacation, sick time and benefits adjusted to match private industry. Performance should be measured just as with most other professionals; commonsense tells me that it is not that difficult to know when a teacher is drag on the school (as all those being honest when they graduate from high school can tell you) … maybe even use a varied teacher peer review scale to help weed out weak educators?

When it comes to factoring in retirement benefits, how about each state taking a broad cross section of their business retirement plans (a mix of small and large companies) and create a 401K retirement plan that gives teachers an incentive to contribute with a match tied to the state’s blend of businesses?

I’m amazed our nation moves so slow in making changes that keep our educational system competitive with other countries? With all the money being spent on education here in the United States, our numbers should be much better … this is shameful.



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