Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: Payback on Teacher Pay Study

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Questioning teacher pay may be the third rail of education policy.

In politics, they talk about hitting the “third rail” – a topic so controversial that it’s almost deadly.

And this week, we think we’ve touched the third rail of education policy: teacher pay.

We reported on a controversial new study from the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute. It says teachers are overpaid by more than 50 percent.

It’s generated a flood of responses, especially once it was picked up by NPR’s Facebook page Thursday.  Most were very angry – both at the study, and at us for reporting on it.

Many of them came from teachers, such as TIRED!, who took a $5,000 pay cut to move from the private sector to teaching:

When I worked for the private sector I did not have to purchase ANY supplies out of my own pocket. However, I spend about $2000 a year on supplies for my classroom. My family continues to ask me why I continue to teach even though I work late hours and almost every weekend and I get less money than if I went back to the private sector and I tell them that it is because someone needs to care about these kids!

Zagrobelny sums up another common sentiment – that we shouldn’t have given this study any attention in the first place:

You should be ashamed of yourselves for acting as a megaphone for this right wing hit job.

We had to go to the NPR Facebook site to find anyone willing to defend the story or the study, as Scott Kidd does here:

I disagree with the NPR bashing. There are people who actually pre-agree with the results of this study and who will use it to justify their attitudes. The more those people can be engaged in honest discussion the more likely they are to broaden their perspectives….

And it wasn’t just educators weighing in. Friends and supporters like Roxanne Sitarz did as well:

I have 2 friends whom are public school teachers. We all graduated college the same year – 2010. I am a Certified Veterinary Technician, working at an emergency care center for animals. My friends are both Junior High teachers.

One year out of school and I am earning $45,000 a year… my friends? $30,000!!!! I only owe $15,000 in student loans… they owe almost $22,000!

Not to insult either profession, but how can teachers, responsible for educating our next generation, be paid LESS than a qualified veterinary medical care provider?

It’s a complicated study and worth reading, if only to understand the point they’re trying to make. It’s also worth reading some of the thoughtful and passionate rebuttals.


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