The Truth About Teachers


Myth: “Teachers are overpaid.”
· According to the report, “What’s It Worth: The Economic Value of College Majors” from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce funded by the Gates and Lumina Foundations, Education majors earned the least for all college majors among 15 sector groupings.
· According to a 2008 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), American primary-school educators spend 1,913 hours working a year including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside of the classroom. Data from a Labor Department survey that same year showed that the average full-time employee in the United States worked 1,932 hours spread over 48 weeks. This statistic shows that teachers work about the same number of hours as the average worker in the United States. This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because “teachers only work 9 months of the year.”

More Info: Teachers Work the Same Number of Hours as Average U.S. Worker
More Info: US Teachers Work Longer Hours Than Anywhere In The World, While Earning Less

“It isn’t fair that teachers receive pensions.”
· Teachers do not receive Social Security. Teachers in Ohio, for example, have 10% of their pay deducted for their pensions and school districts contribute 14% of the teachers’ salaries in the form of deferred compensation–much like how a corporation will match employee contributions to a 401k. Teachers accepted deferred compensation in the form of pensions and health care benefits in lieu of salary increases in the past when teachers’ salaries never kept pace with the compensation of other college-educated professionals.

More info: “Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions”
“We should at least cut back benefits for new teachers.”
· According to McKinsey and Company report “Closing the Talent Gap,” to be on par with other high-performing nations high-needs schools in the U.S. would need to pay new teachers around $68,000 with a maximum career compensation of $150,000 per year. Research shows that teacher quality is extremely important to the success of our education system, so we need to attract and retain the most talented individuals to the teaching profession


Myth: “Charters schools perform better than traditional public schools.”
· According to a 2009 Stanford University study, only 17% of charter schools perform better than public schools while 37% of charter schools perform worse

· According to 2006 Ohio state report cards, 1 in 2 charter schools were either in academic emergency or academic watch, while only 1 in 11 traditional public school buildings were in academic emergency or academic watch
· Three out of four public schools are rated excellent or effective, while only one in six charter schools are rated excellent or effective


Myth: “Public schools need to operated like businesses.”
• Education is a public good that cannot turn away “inputs” (i.e. students and parents) to the “production process”
• Our political system requires that every citizen is well educated to exercise their civic duties not just the wealthy who could buy a good education in a privatized system

More Info: A Business Leader Admits He Was Wrong About Education

Myth: “We should pay teachers based on merit because this will encourage teachers to work harder and perform better.”
· Value-added formulas for teacher performance based on standardized test are not statistically valid and reliable. (Economic Policy Institute, New York Times, National Education Policy Center)
· Merit pay systems for teachers have been tried in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Nashville where studies have shown that they did not increase student achievement (Mathematica Policy Research, Economic Policy Institute, National Educational Policy Center, Vanderbilt)
· Value-added measures based on standardized narrow the curriculum and work against creativity, innovation and intrinsic motivation (Drive by Daniel Pink)
· Requiring administrators to evaluate every teacher for at least 30 minutes twice every year will increase administrative costs and mean that more money is spent on administrative costs instead of less.
· According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60% of student achievement is attributable to non-school factors, such as family income and poverty—factors that the teacher cannot control
· Research has shown that collaboration among teachers improves the quality of instruction, but merit-pay systems based on standardized test scores for the students of individual teachers creates incentives opposed to collaboration and cooperation
· Merit pay based on standardized tests punishes teachers for working with students who have disabilities or are disadvantaged

More Info:  Evaluating New York Teachers, Perhaps the Numbers Do Lie

Myth: “If teachers aren’t satisfied with their jobs, they should do something else.”
• According to a report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, “A conservative national estimate of the cost of replacing public school teachers who have dropped out of the profession is $2.2 billion a year. If the cost of replacing public school teachers who transfer schools is added, the total reaches $4.9 billion every year. For individual states, cost estimates range from $8.5 million in North Dakota to a whopping half a billion dollars for a large state like Texas. Many analysts believe that the price tag is even higher; hiring costs vary by district and sometimes include signing bonuses, subject matter stipends, and other recruiting costs specific to hard-to-staff schools. Others believe that the cost of the loss in teacher quality and student achievement should also be added to the bill.”


Myth: “New legislation passed in states was just about balancing budgets.”
• Teachers are being singled as a convenient scapegoat for economic problems caused by the collapse of the housing market and corruption that was evident in corporations associated with America’s mortgage industry.

More info: Teachers Under Attack (CNN Money)
More info: American Teachers Under Attack (Fortune)
More info: Are Public Unions Our Convenient Economic Scapegoats? (CNN Money)

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