Teachers: Overpaid Public Servants?
I have to admit that I must have been a little naïve. When I saw this report from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute about how overpaid teachers are I felt betrayed. When Arthur Brooks, president of AEI visited our school last year to talk about his book, Gross National Happiness, it really struck a chord with me. While I may not be an entrepreneur in a strict, think-tankish sense of that word I really felt like I had most of the ingredients Brooks said went into the happy life; autonomy, earned reward, and meaning. My job as a teacher at a small, progressive independent school afforded me all of those essential ingredients of happiness. Our school’s philosophy provides for considerable professional autonomy, I felt that I earned my salary, and I find working with students deeply meaningful. I suppose many teachers may be lucky enough to say the same. But if you are a public school teacher, according to the report you are probably grossly overpaid, so forget the earned reward part of the formula! You are a virtual ward of the state being given up to 50% more than you would be able to earn in the private sector. At least that’s according to the extensive calculations factored in by the report’s authors Jason Richwine, PhD. and Andrew g. Biggs, PhD. whose pettifoggery takes into account all of the supposed paid vacation time and “hidden” benefits we free-loading teachers take. Those benefits are so well hidden most teachers don’t even know about them! But, it’s true public schools teachers have probably started taking for granted all those free trips to the copy machines made at public expense.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many teachers who are in it for the money. Thankfully, education secretary Arne Duncan takes the report to task in this blog post where he cites the need to attract successful, motivated candidates to the profession, not try to balance budgets by stiffing the people who educate our kids. Teachers’ lives are already steeped in meaningfulness, just give them the autonomy of professionals, and allow them earn their honest reward.