How Much are Public School Teachers Paid?

Liam Julian

Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters
Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation
January 2007

Jay Greene and Marcus Winters want to recast the way the nation looks at teacher pay: i.e., that it's more important to focus on how teachers are paid than how much they're paid. They do this by making two points. First, that teachers aren't paid too shabbily. The authors look at information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding the hourly pay of public school teachers. Teachers make, on average, 36 percent more than the average non-sales white-collar worker--architects make 11 percent less than teachers, psychologists 9 percent less, and editors and reporters (gulp) 24 percent less. Their second point is that no correlation exists between higher teacher pay and higher student achievement (measured by high school graduation rates). Correlations between merit bonuses and higher student achievement have been observed, though. Thus, if raising student achievement is schools' top priority, teacher bonuses can and should be distributed with that priority in mind. The authors do not insinuate that good teachers shouldn't be well-compensated, or that the best teachers shouldn't make big bucks, but the emphasis needs to be on rewarding with bonuses those whose students are making classroom gains. Across-the-board pay raises are well and good, and we certainly have lots of them, but they do little to help students learn more. Find the report here.

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