The question posed in the title is a bit loaded. First, teachers will say yes while others will say no. We pulled a couple of charts and information from an article from a May 2018 article published in Intellectual Takeout.
The latest data is for 2017. In a report at National Center for Education Statistics we find the following chart:
- Those figures generally exclude benefits, such as health insurance, paid leave, and pensions.
- According to the Department of Labor, benefits comprise an average of 33% of compensation for public school teachers.
- This excludes unfunded pension liabilities and certain post-employment benefits like health insurance, which are not measured by the Department of Labor.
Full-time private industry employees work an average of 37% more hours per year than full-time public school teachers. This includes the time that teachers spend for lesson preparation, test construction and grading, providing extra help to students, coaching, and other activities. Unlike less rigorous studies, this data from the Department of Labor is based on detailed records of work hours instead of subjective estimates about how long people think they work.
Accounting for the disparity between the annual work hours of full-time public school teachers and full-time private industry workers, the average annualized cost of employing teachers in the 2016–17 school year was $120,578 per teacher. Again, this doesn’t include certain post-employment benefits.
Nationally representative polling data suggests that the media has serially misinformed voters about the costs of public schools.
According to the latest Department of Education data, governments in the U.S. spend an average of $13,119 per year for every student enrolled in K–12 public schools. Adjusted for inflation, this spending has risen by 22 times since 1919, and it omits three significant categories of education expenses:
- State government administration.
- Unfunded pension liabilities.
- Post-employment non-pension benefits (like health insurance).
Given that the average class size in U.S. public schools is 24 students, spending per classroom in the 2014–15 school year averaged about $315,000. Yet, a nationally representative poll commissioned in 2017 by Just Facts found that 49% of voters think the average spending per public school classroom is less than $150,000 per year. This is lower than half the actual amount.
Likewise, a 2017 poll commissioned by the journal Education Next and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found that the average adult believes their local public schools spend $8,877 per student. This is 32% less than the U.S. average.
- Teachers in lower paying states will use higher paying states to show/say that the average is higher and that they need raises or they will fall farther behind
- Pay is NOT tied to student outcomes
- More and more time and money is spent outside the classroom
- Teachers certainly put up with a lot and good teachers should be cherished and compensated very well but poor teachers need to be allowed to pursue other jobs and not protected
- If you accept that private sector workers spend ~37% more time working and rarely have benefits and retirements anywhere near public employees then teachers who have been working for 10-15 years or more appear to do quite well.