Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cutting Teacher Compensation: A Demand and Supply Model

Eric Kleefeld reports:

about double the number of Wisconsin public school teachers have retired this year when compared to the past two years, before Scott Walker's anti-union law -- which stripped away most collective-bargaining rights for public-sector unions, and required greater contributions by public employees for their healthcare and pensions -- was ever proposed or much less passed."It wouldn't make sense for me to teach one more year and basically lose $8,000," said Green Bay teacher Ginny Fleck, age 69, who has 30 years of experience.

I know some of these Republican governors cite the fact that total compensation for public school teachers is above the national average for all workers, but it is also true that their compensation is below the national average for college educated workers. A case can be made that school teachers were already undercompensated. Cut their compensation and the textbook demand and supply model would predict a shortage of workers as we move along the supply curve. OK – there may be unemployed workers in other sectors ready to take these vacancies but:

Many of these positions will be filled, though no comprehensive statistics are available. But the issue does remain that the school systems have spontaneously lost an unusual amount of total experience. "You can't get experience through a book, you've got to teach," said Green Bay teacher C.J. Peters, who for her own part has retired after 24 years. "I think a lot of talent has been lost."


Anonymous said...

Beyond the first couple years, there is not much evidence that time spent teaching leads to better teaching.

Jack said...

Let's wait until someone develops a valid measure of "better teaching." One thing that seems reasonably well established is that the poorest performing educational systems are those which pay the lowest incomes to teachers and have the lowest income student bodies. Don't look for evidence of which is the greater determinate of educational accomplishment. No one has yet figured out how to tease those factors apart. Let's just accept the common sense conclusion that all the factors add together and produce ignorance in exchange for cheap educational systems.