Press Release

AFT President Randi Weingarten Responds to American Enterprise Institute Report on Teacher Compensation

For Release: 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


George Jackson

If teachers are so overpaid, then why aren't more "1 percenters"
banging down the doors to enter the teaching profession?


WASHINGTON—While the American Enterprise Institute has every right to issue a report on teacher pay, reports like "Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers" are the reason many Americans pay no heed to what goes on in Washington, D.C. The AEI report concludes that America's public school teachers are overpaid—something that defies common sense—and uses misleading statistics and questionable research to make its case.

If teachers are so overpaid, then why aren't more "1 percenters" banging down the doors to enter the teaching profession? Why do 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within three to five years, an attrition rate that costs our school districts $7 billion annually?

This report contains a number of ridiculous assertions, such as arbitrarily assigning 8.6 percent as a "job security premium" teachers supposedly enjoy. This "job security premium" is pure fiction, given the 278,000 public education jobs that have been lost during this recession. There's no basis for this claim—it's simply a placeholder used to lead to AEI's conclusion. In our business, such reasoning would get a flunking grade.

The truth—backed by reputable research—is that few, if any, workers subsidize their professions like teachers. America's teachers spend hundreds of dollars per year on classroom supplies for their students and work longer hours than their peers in other nations, including late afternoons, evenings and weekends grading papers, preparing lesson plans, talking with students and their parents, and other school-related work.

Rather than rehashing AEI's previous anti-public worker reports, let's spend time heeding the lessons of top-performing nations, which invest heavily in recruiting, developing, supporting and compensating teachers.

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:!/rweingarten

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.