Review of Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers

Jason Richwine and Andrew Biggs
Heritage Foundation
November 11, 2011
January 31, 2012

This report compares the pay, pension costs and retiree health benefits of teachers with those of similarly qualified private-sector workers. The study concludes that teachers receive total compensation 52% greater than fair market levels, which translates into a $120 billion annual “overcharge” to taxpayers. Built on a series of faulty analyses, this study misrepresents total teacher compensation in fundamental ways. First, teachers’ 12% lower pay is dismissed as being appropriate for their lesser intelligence, although there is no foundation for such a claim. Total benefits are calculated as having a monetary value of 100.8% of pay, while the Department of Labor disagrees, giving a figure of 32.8%—a figure almost identical to that of people employed in the private sector. Pension costs are valued at 32%, but the real number is closer to 8.4%. The shorter work year is said to represent 28.8% additional compensation but the real work year is only 12% shorter. Teachers’ job stability is said to be worth 8.6%, although the case for such a claim is not sustained. In sum, this report is based on an aggregation of such spurious claims. The actual salary and benefits for teachers show they are in fact undercompensated by 19%.

Think Tank Review DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Reply from Andrew Biggs DOWNLOAD/PRINT
Rejoinder from Jeffrey Keefe DOWNLOAD/PRINT