Via Education and Technology, I hear of a study that says teachers may not be undercompensated, with a supporting opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, “$34.06 an hour: That’s how much the average public school teacher makes. Is that ‘underpaid?'”. The study comes from the Manhattan Institute, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, by Jay P. Green and Marcus A. Winters.
My escaped-sewage detector started clanging. Check out the lengthy explanation of methodology in the actual report. Such apologies up front should be a warning.
Of course, this raises issues about all the methodologies of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As I understand it, they report what the employers report. In other words, union members’ work is represented and reported to the BLS by management. Teachers’ hours are reported by administration. In few cases would there be any incentive for the reporting entity to be accurate, especially in reporting off-the-clock hours.
I am reminded of a high school band concert I attended last year on a weeknight, at Dallas’ Morton Meyerson Center (good bands, really — they did the hall proud). Many of the kids in the bands are children of teachers. I had wondered why so many teachers seemed to have a fascination with those odd novelty pens that light up. As the lights of the concert hall dimmed, those pens clicked into action all over the hall. Teachers were at their kids’ concerts, correcting papers. Quickly getting over my guilt for not having brought along papers to grade, I counted as one woman sitting close by corrected more than 150 papers over the next two hours.
How would the BLS count that? How would administrators report it?
And every teacher in this district is held to 8 hours on the clock.
I urge you to go see the report from the Manhattan Institute, and to look at the Wall Street Journal article, and to look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. This is a big issue, and it seems to me that the methodology for calculating teacher hours is seriously flawed.
We know what kinds of policies result when intelligence going in is bad. See the quote from Santayana on the front page of this blog.