Four fallacies of the ‘teachers are overpaid’ argument

The paper's arguments are based on a number of logical fallacies that undermine its conclusions.

The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute have released a new paper arguing that public school teachers are overpaid relative to the private-sector market, and therefore policy makers can balance their budgets by cutting teachers’ benefits without affecting teacher recruitment and retention.

The paper is sure to provoke a great deal of thought and debate, but its arguments are based on a number of omissions and false assumptions that badly undermine its conclusions. Here are four such fallacies.

1. Teaching degrees aren’t as valid as the academic credentials of other professionals.…Read More

Hey, teachers: The Heritage Foundation thinks you’re overpaid

Teachers are actually overpaid by at least 50 percent of their fair-market value, the paper argues.

A new policy paper from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that espouses free-market principles, argues that—contrary to popular opinion—teachers aren’t underpaid. Instead, the paper says, teachers are actually overpaid by at least 50 percent of their fair-market value, costing American taxpayers more than $120 billion each year in excessive labor costs.

Produced in partnership with the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), another research institution that champions conservative ideals, the paper compares the combined average wages and benefits of public school teachers with those of private-sector professionals who have similar skills. It concludes that wages for the two groups are about the same, while benefits and job security are significantly higher for teachers.

“Teacher compensa­tion could therefore be reduced with only minor effects on recruitment and retention,” wrote the paper’s authors, Jason Richwine and Andrew G. Biggs. “Alternatively, teachers who are more effective at raising student achievement might be hired at comparable cost.”…Read More