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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 128%. 

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. 

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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