New Study Says Teachers Aren't Underpaid

Marion Herbert's picture
Thursday, November 3, 2011

For years, leaders such as U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and former first lady Laura Bush have said teachers need to be paid more. But researchers from two conservative think tanks say otherwise in a report released.

In 2003, Bush argued, "Salaries are too low. We all know that . . . we need to figure out a way to pay teachers more." And just last month, Duncan said in a speech at a Detroit school that teachers are "desperately underpaid" and that their salaries should be doubled.

In the new report, however, Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation and Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research argue that the nation's 3.2 million elementary and secondary public school teachers may actually be overpaid—by as much as 52 percent—based on their salaries, benefits, job security, and relative education level. The authors say that state and local governments may be spending as much as $120 billion annually in excess labor costs.

"The teaching profession is crucial to America's society and economy, but public school teachers should receive compensation that is neither higher nor lower than market rates," they write.

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