The Daily Pick

Monday, August 15, 2005

Teachers Have It Easy

The new book Teachers Have It Easy argues that, nationwide, teacher's salaries are far below the average of other professionals. The book's authors are Daniel Moulthrop, Ninive Clements Calegari and Dave Eggers, and the subtitle is: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America's Teachers.

You can read about it in the Seattle Times and listen to an interview with the book's authors on Forum.

Meanwhile, Money Magazine takes a look at the issue in a 2003 article, and Ohio University professor of economics Richard Vedder argues the exact opposite, claiming that teachers, per hour, make more than architects, engineers and just below the hourly salaries of physicists and lawyers.

Well, I hope they make more than Ohio University professors of economics, but I doubt it. Vedder also seems to think that larger class sizes are a good economic incentive for teachers, and he doesn't - at least in this article - take into account any of the hours and hours that teachers spend daily outside of the classroom on school work, or the expenses that teachers pay out of their own pockets to furnish their classrooms with basic supplies. I seriously doubt that lawyers stop billing after a 6.5 hour workday, and I'd be surprised to hear about architects not billing their companies for pencil and paper. No offense intended to lawyers and architects.

Vedder's article is worth reading and is not without merit, but a very simple statistical analyisis and a very narrow interpretation of the analyisis falls far short in understanding the average teacher's problems, both in the pocketbook and in the classroom. Any graduate of public education can tell you the beginning of a solution to our educational crisis: smaller class sizes, better facilities, and better pay for teachers, especially at the starting level. We (i.e. taxpayers, Congress) are either going to pony up the money, or we're going to continue to graduate a large proportion of students ill prepared for employment and life.

Teachers Have It Easy is available from Powells, Booksense, and Amazon.

posted by The Daily Pick at 2:03 AM


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