An economist's assessment of "Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers"

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Recently we described what we see as the spin resulting from a joint report by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.  The report claims that state and local governments are being "overcharged" by $120 billion annually for teacher salary and benefits.  Now we want to get back to the question of substance: How right or wrong are the authors? We asked economist Dick Startz, author of Profit of Education, for his assessment of the study. His is a frank critique, to say the least, and delightfully easy to read.

Startz's conclusion? A "fair summary" of the data presented by the paper itself should have led to a far different conclusion than what was actually made: teachers are underpaid by a bit if one doesn't adjust for their shorter years of work and overpaid — but only by a bit — if one does.

Julie Greenberg