Education Editorial: fair compensation

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute recently rolled out a new study of teacher compensation as compared with their private sector counterparts. While Jason Richwine and Andrew Briggs have clearly taken hold of a hot potato, their results are worthy of review, if not instruction.

The study uses the "human capital" model and looks at more that salary based upon years of experience and educational level. It also includes the knowledge and skills that are required for the job. While it begs the issue of length of year, it includes the teacher "summer vacation" as a factor in the benefits package…leave.

Their findings are simple: teachers make more than those in the private sector who have comparable skills. The study also notes that teachers who leave the profession and go to the private sector typically find a 3% reduction in compensation. Both of these findings push against conventional myth, if not traditional lobby.

The rebuttal for this study is not likely to refute the data or method of analysis. The target will be the way benefits are treated…and the inclusion of factors such as "security"…commonly called tenure. When the smoke has cleared, there are questions that still need to be asked.

First, can anyone expect to make a 12-month salary in 10 months? If Mom and Pop storeowners were to enjoy the same benefits, how much more would they have to make? While a strong teacher is worth more than we presently pay, should the job classification be held to the economists' "marginal dollar principle"…how much is enough? Oh, studies like this are likely to serve as irritants, but will do little to change public policy!

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