In response to my recent paper on public school teacher pay—in which Jason Richwine and I concluded that overall teacher compensation, including salaries, benefits, and job security, was roughly 50 percent above market levels—the Washington Post cites a recent comment from former Washington, DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee:
“The average teacher salary in the United States is estimated to be around $55,000. Surely your favorite teacher is worth more than that.”
But here’s the problem: average total compensation including benefits is around $110,000, significantly more than teachers’ skills would merit in private sector jobs. And that amount isn’t simply paid to my favorite teacher; it goes to my least favorite teacher as well, since good and bad teachers are paid essentially the same. So we could just as accurately say:
“The average not-so-great teacher in the United States receives total compensation of around $110,000 per year.”
Is that too much to pay? Yes.