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Part of the methodology is very worrisome to me.

They record that they are comparing full-time -teachers to all-full-time-college-graduates-less-teachers. Does that second category include college graduates that became CEO’s, doctors, lawyers, middle managers, (degreed) gas station attendants? I believe that “college graduate less teachers” is way too broad of a group to say that it’s a direct valid comparison to teachers. Utilizing the average further skews the representation for the latter group since I imagine several of the above are considered high-pay outliers which inflate the average.

Why not just compare the teachers to non-managing jobs (e.g. accountant, engineer, and clergy)? Those are all typically degreed jobs and the typical minimum requirements don’t imply employee management, furthermore specialized degree attainment or well-educated gas station attendants.

Good caveats, Ian. Since that left-leaning foundation is tax-exempt, their studies and full methodology should be open for public inspection. I didn't drill that deeply into the detailed methods but since they used BLS OES/NCS and Census data, the "high end outliers" are minimized by the federal data collection methods that lump everyone above a top income threshold together. For example, when I had a regular income, BLS counted me in the same headcount bracket as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. The OES report does not request or report actual dollars but only headcounts within income brackets: see http://www.compensationcafe.com/2011/07/why-government-salary-data-is-conservative.html .

They did seem to include degreed hourly workers, though, which would have balanced any tilt. But remember they are a DC think-tank that promotes political agendas and thus report selectively.

Is this the case for you get what you pay for? Parents has been lamenting over the state of American education. Would the best minds in education stay given how low their pay are?

That could be one interpretation, Jules. Others would argue that teaching offers so much intrinsic reward that money should not be a meaningful factor compared to the emotional satisfaction inherent in the role. Having taught, I don't buy into that rather silly sweeping claim. It's easy to dismiss cash as an incentive for behavior when you don't need it.

The question of WHY they earn less still remains a challenge.

Ouch. Just saw this current article from an academic economist http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/walter-e-williams/dumb-american-youth that underlines the point Jules made.

Another story today addresses chronic teacher absenteeism https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/594b94bf-4cdf-310d-be84-612e91d57f79/1-in-4-u.s.-teachers-are.html. Some of it is certainly permissible as sick pay, maternity leave and personal days, but it affects student achievement and perceptions about teacher effectiveness.

You asked why teachers earn less. As an AP Microeconomics teacher, I've given this some thought. In most labor markets, there are multiple employers that will compete with each other for workers, and this competition will drive up wages. This happens most of course when there is a shortage of workers (low unemployment). However, there is only one employer in each state for public school teachers: the state. It is the state legislature that controls teacher wages (and they are not the ones doing hiring so they are removed from the needs of the districts). In economics, we call this a monopsony: one buyer of labor. Thus, the single employer can drive down wages because the worker's choice is either to take the lower wages or leave the field or the state (which is hard to do if you don't have another state's teaching license). As you have pointed out, many teachers do leave the profession. Others stick it out and accept the lower wages.

Great answer, Maryann! Love term "monopsony" and glad you so properly applied it because it truly fits. Mostly.

In my consulting experience, the school districts had great latitude in setting wages; so teachers could and would gravitate to preferred employers. Believe the majority of states today still leave teacher pay decisions to school districts, while other states do set minimum standards which local school districts can exceed.

Regardless, centralized pay-setting can create terrible results.

Private schools draw some teachers away from public schools, too, despite often paying even less because they can offer superior working conditions.

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