Meager Teacher Salaries Reflect the
Lack of Importance We Place On Educating Our Children
August 14, 2001
Even as a little kid I had a
sense that teachers were doing something very important in their jobs of
teaching the country's children. And I wondered why they seemed to be
not particularly well paid.
It still strikes me as
completely bizarre -- and probably one of those free market distortions of
what we would ideally like to see -- that the people who create cartoons for
our children to watch on Saturday morning are paid many times the amount we
pay our teachers.
In most other industrialized
countries, teachers are paid at a level relatively higher to other jobs than
in the United States.
A recent report by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, summarized in The New
York Times, showed that in the United States teachers are paid just
under the average U.S. per capita income. In South Korea they are paid
250% (2.5 times) the average per capita income of that country.
A chart in the newsprint version of the Times article had the figures
for Switzerland at 188%, Mexico at 178%, Germany at 163% and France at
Out of all the member nations
of the OECD, 21 pay teachers a salary relatively higher to other jobs than
the U.S.; only four pay a relatively lower salary.
Relatively meager salary
levels indicate a lack of value accorded a job. What kind of priorities is that?
No wonder the United States
faces a shortage of teachers.