Assessing the Spin of "Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers"

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A recent report by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute has advised state and local governments that they are being "overcharged" (the authors' fairly loaded term, not ours) for teacher compensation. They've calculated that taxpayers are shelling out about $120 billion more each year in salary and benefits than they should.

Yet the authors also claim that they would not be satisfied with a education labor force purchased more cheaply. That's because a sotto voce conclusion in their report is that their ultimate aim is more talented teachers in our schools and "recruiting highly effective teachers into the profession may require present levels of compensation or perhaps even higher levels."  So the question is this: does building the case for cutting teacher compensation lead us down the road to increasing teacher compensation? Seems like a non-starter to us. Better to change the frame and make the case with the public and within the profession that present compensation levels need to be retained (or even increased), but that the structure of compensation needs to be changed so as to more fairly reward teaching talent.

Enough on spin...How right or wrong are these guys on the substance? We asked Dick Startz, an economist who has examined teacher compensation in very thoughtful ways to weigh in.  He's done so in a highly readable and "no holds barred" response that will be posted shortly.

Julie Greenberg