I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, August 16, 2010

Teacher Pay Obsession

The obsession with teacher pay continues. First, Al Doblin:
The new teacher increase averages represent the lowest since the school boards group began collecting data 30 years ago. 
In many ways, it is heartening to see teachers unions stepping up to the plate, realizing that the economy is only slowly improving, that taxpayers are tapped out and that state and local public coffers are running short of money.
And yet, many other teachers unions should be following suit. 
According to the school boards group data, only 42 of the more than 600 teacher bargaining units across the state agreed to one-year pay freezes, including a handful of districts in North Jersey. When administrators and support staff are included, there were 140 districts in which staff agreed to concessions and/or freezes. Those concessions varied across the board, ranging from higher health care copayments to adjustments in step raises to tuition reimbursement.
Yes, it's "heartening" that teachers, who make 2/3 of the money as similar workers for 5/6 of the work, are getting such small raises. It's about time they understand that the richest country on the planet can't afford to give out raises that barely outpace inflation to middle class workers - especially if we're to keep income inequity so high.
And yet to help avoid future job cuts among public employees, we would encourage more unions and their leaders to consider givebacks and concessions or agree to smaller raises, if not outright freezes in salary. Given these trying economic times for so many New Jerseyans, it seems the least they can do.
Because the 1.5% you gave up this year for your health care and the inevitable hits you're going to take on your pension and the fact that you historically have gotten raises less than the average worker in NJ just isn't enough.

I must have missed Doblin's call for corporations and millionaires to make similar sacrifices; it must be in there somewhere...

We also have some more noise from the wingnut-welfare gravy train - this time, it's the AEI boxcar:
According to data from the New Jersey teachers pension plan, the average teacher in New Jersey receives a salary of around $68,000 (see page 46 of this report). A household of two teachers would have a combined income of $136,000, giving them roughly twice the earnings of the typical New Jersey household of around $70,000.
Yeah, uh, hello? Who said you could just conjecture a two-teacher household for your comparison, with both making the average salary? Can we double your salary to compare the relative worth of right-wing shills?
That’s pretty significant, since the typical teacher doesn’t come into the workforce with a particularly outstanding academic background. The average individual entering teaching school has only slightly higher than average SAT scores (about 1050 versus the national average of around 1015)...
Teachers have higher than average SATs. Which don't predict teaching success, but keep that in mind anyway.
...and if better-qualified teachers disproportionately leave the profession it’s not hard to imagine the typical practicing teacher having lower academic qualifications than the people they are teaching.
That's a really big 'if" don't you think? And the people they are teaching are kids, dude - they don't have academic qualifications. Unless you want to compare SAT scores of students to their teachers; but then, not everybody takes the SAT, do they?
Despite having only average academic qualifications going into teaching school, in New Jersey teachers receive about twice the average salary.
Twice the salary if you include people who don't have college degrees! Again: 2/3 of the pay, 5/6 of the work. For people with above average SATs.
Finally, here’s the real kicker: despite the fact that Krugman’s post was intended to debunk the idea of Cadillac-driving schoolteachers, a couple made up of New Jersey school teachers, with a combined income of around $136,000, would have a higher household income than the typical Cadillac buyer, around $129,000.
I swear he wrote that - no really, he did.

AEI Scholars Roundtable

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