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Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Garris: Public School Teachers Are Not Underpaid

It seems like the media will never stop promoting the myth that public school teachers are “underpaid.” The most recent example is the front-page story in Time, “This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America.”

Time tells of a woman who makes $55,000 per year teaching but works two other jobs in order to “pay the bills.” The article includes complaints about a teacher making almost $70,000 per year and even suggests that sexism is partly to blame for deficient pay because there are more women teachers than men.

It is no surprise that the media promotes these sorts of stories. They want public elementary and secondary school teachers to make more money. Unfortunately, it is probably not for the reason they want us to think. For if the media cared about teachers as a class, they would also advocate for private school teachers (who make far less than public school teachers on average). There is something about public education that concerns them.

The likely explanation for why the media constantly tell us that public school teachers should be paid more is that teachers unions and the media are political allies. It is no secret that the teachers unions have strong ties to the Democratic Party . And the mainstream media, including publications like Time, leans to the political left.

What About Private School Teachers?

Of course, the media can successfully push for greater pay for public school teachers because they are paid through taxation, while private school teacher pay is dictated by consumer demands. This is the difference between taxation and voluntary exchange. The amount of money raised by taxation can be almost unlimited regardless of the utility provided, while the government’s subsequent expenditure is arbitrary in both quality and quantity, without any connection to consumer valuation.

This is the great irony of the claim that public school teachers are underpaid. By socializing education, state governments have removed the very market forces that determine wages. So there is no way to measure what a teacher actually 'should' be paid.

There are private schools in America, but these schools are an imperfect measure of teacher pay because the government’s quasi-monopoly on education decreases demand for private education. Parents are much less likely to pay for private schools when “free” public schools are readily available. Those who send their children to private schools effectively pay double tuition, as they must continue to pay property taxes for public schools that they do not use.



Anonymous said...

I am a public school teacher and I agree. We are definitely undersupported and under protected but the pay scale and benefit packages are fair. We would all like to make more money, but in reality we are paid fairly.

Anonymous said...

The Democratic Party can't do a thing for teachers. It's a mystery why their unions send wads of cash to them.

Anonymous said...

7:39 - agreed, it now that the Janus case has been settled SCOTUS teachers are now able to opt out and sue - previously they had to pay union dues whether they wished to or not