« EU Announces Reduced Private Property Rights Edition | Main | With Republicans Like These, Who Needs Communists? »

January 31, 2005


J. Lott

It doesn't take a long essay to prove that the teacher pay system is distorted. You just need to remember the old adage, "Something is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it." A teacher'a labor is worth what a school is willing to pay for it -- UNLESS there is a union in between them, which requires teachers to be paid by seniority, not skill, and which places huge barriers in the way of the elimination of underacheivers.

Eliminating underacheivers is how the rest of the non-unionized world motivates the rest of us.

Unions are outdated and serve only to line the pockets of their leaders and the politicians to which they contribute, at a cost to their most skilled employees, and to their customers (schoolchildren and parents).


Madison faces the following:

(1) Very high teacher compensation due to a union dominated school board.

(2) High quality special ed instruction relative to the rest of the Wisconsin and the entire country. Thus people flock to the school district from everywhere while Madison tax payers (and to some extent the State of Wisconsin) write the checks.

(3) A state aid formula that redistributes funds away from districts with relatively high property values.

The results are the high property taxes and budget shortfalls typical of big spending districts. Even liberal Madison has become increasingly skeptical of the school board's annual referrendum on higher taxes. The board has threatened that cuts will be made in sports and arts rather than LGBT coordinators and administration staff.

Random 10

When I was going through public schooling, I was never under the impression that the work of teaching was one of society’s exalted professions or that public school teachers were engaged in an enlightened task. Educating children was a job that needed to be done and hopefully done skillfully; however, education was and still is primarily the telling of stories about the achievement of others. If Homer is venerated it is only because Hector and Achilles acted their parts in the greater social drama.

My experience leaves me with the feeling that the emergence of the teachers unions parallels the increasing percentage of women in the workforce. Schooling has always had a babysitting component and I would not be surprised if some sociology grant recipient comes up with data showing that the teachers were responding to increased expectations about the time and effort aspects of their work day. It is also true that whenever a premium price is charged, it must correspond to an increased perceived value of the product. Please notice that the teachers unions are actively working to inflate the perceived value of basic education in the public’s mind, and have been doing this type of hype for a long time.


Badger, I take slight issue with your compensation analysis in summing the summer months to get up to $49--it could just as easily be $34 summing up to $41K. There is the benefit of not having to officially work and to be able to coordinate vacation schedule with the family, but I doubt it would cover the difference up to $49K (I suppose you could figure out some analysis in the private sector where people get an option to take an extended summer break and the wage differential, but I don't have the desire to look or research it).

That being said, the benefit package is a part of the problem. I don't have the link to the story (circa 2003 and similar to the formula on the pension scandal), the younger teachers are actually getting hosed on the benefit scale versus more tenured teachers. Furthermore, other than for the tax subsidy of some of these benefits, I would argue it should be more preferable if teachers could receive some of these benefits as an asset (ala the Social Security debate) rather than a retirement benefit, which could negate some of the private/public complaint potential.


Thanks for what you say, I agree.
Its makes good sense
I am an alcohol and drug therapist and find that many of my clients (high school and probation and parole clients) have not be taught well. Yet having time with them 4-5 sessions their willingness and motivation to learn about themselves is greatly increased. This is one of the main pleasures of my craft.....teaching. I hear what referents say about the "client" and their general lack of respect for the person that it seems a problem for them, their own personal issue.
Just thanks for being there and doing what you are doing.
Be well,

The comments to this entry are closed.