Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bad Report, or Bad Reporting?

Here's what we get today from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, by way of the Washington Examiner:
We can already hear the anguished, angry protests of the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. But our headline captures the essence of an important new study being released today by Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis and American Enterprise Institute's Andrew Biggs. Richwine and Biggs found that when public school teachers and private sector workers are compared objectively on the basis of cognitive skills -- rather than years of service or educational attainment -- the educators enjoy higher compensation -- contrary to the claims of union officials in public debate and in negotiations with school boards.

This is seen most dramatically when workers switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs. Such a move typically results in a wage increase of approximately nine 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," Richwine and Biggs said.
All of this may well be the truth, but is there something more that is not being reported? Might more information have been in the actual report, but lacking in the Examiner's column?

I have no doubt that for some people with some degrees, teaching is the most money they can make. However, is that true for all teachers? The statements quoted above give us reason to think so, but is it? Especially high school teachers, who usually have degrees in the subjects they teach--are they overpaid, even math and science teachers? And is this true across the country, in certain states, or is there some other geographical issue at play?

Bottom line is that there is precious little in this Examiner column to support the claims made. I hope that organizations as prestigious as Heritage and AEI weren't so sloppy in their work.

1 comment:

socalmike said...

I have a Masters degree in Geology. There's no way that teaching allows me to make more money. I could get a job with an oil company RIGHT NOW and make more than I've made in 28 years of teaching. Yes, there's trade offs, but that's not my point, or Darren's.

It seems that the elementary education folks are who you're talking about. Liberal Arts degree? Teach. History degree? Teach. Some of those things just scream "teacher".

But those of us with science/tech degrees, we could make a LOT more outside of the classroom.