As I write, there is an email forward and social media post that is floating around by the same title.
It asks, “Are You Sick of Highly Paid Teachers?” and then goes on to show that, actually…teachers are not paid enough.
In regard to teacher pay, society is, in fact, getting a great deal.
While that may or may not be true, the economics of the article does deserve a closer look.
In full, the note says:
Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!
We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).
Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).
What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here! There sure is!
The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student–a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!!
Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.
Update: I’m glad that many people have shown their support for teachers by reposting this note, but I am not the original author. I received this as an anonymous chain letter email, and I wanted to share it to support the public workers of Wisconsin.
While this note is seemingly clever and cute in its own way, it has a problem. It was written by someone with no grasp of economics. Not only does the note only discuss salaries, it completely excludes the entire notion of fixed costs. On this account, the note should not be taken seriously.
Let’s look at it. And for the sake of confusion, assume that the numbers presented in the note are actually correct.
The note says that in the USA, a teacher’s average salary is $50,000 per year. But, if teachers were just paid like daycare workers or “inexpensive babysitters,” making between three dollars an hour and minimum wage, they would be making between $105,300 and $280,800 per year.
Well. This implication begs the question: Why don’t daycare workers, working for a day care that charges $64 per day, per student, make $280,800 per year, or more?
Obviously, the answer is fixed costs: Quite simply, salary is not the only expense that a school has. Said different, schools that take in X dollars in revenue do not pay out X dollars in salary.
If 30 parents pay $8 per hour, or $64 per day (for an 8 hour day), to put their child in daycare, for a total of $1,920 per day — the teacher is not paid $1,920 per day. There is more to operating a school than that. First, there is the cost of the building that has to be built and financed. Utilities must be paid. Insurance costs have to be taken into account. A maintenance crew must be retained for building repairs and cleaning. A bus must be bought if the children ever wish to take a field trip. An administration staff must be kept. Computers and software must be purchased. And most employees will require the cost of health benefits, social security taxes, and retirement.
In contrast, many people would probably consider it a bargain to educate students for $9,360 ($280,800 / 30 students) per year as a good deal. This is because as late as 2009, Houston school district’s stated per pupil cost was $8,418. Los Angeles reported a cost of $10,053 per pupil, Chicago was $11,536, and the District of Columbia $17,542. But, as the Cato Institute reports, these numbers are actually guilty of the same problem: In many cases, school districts leave out many fixed costs from reported statistics. When all costs are added to the figures, Houston’s per pupil cost jumps to $12,534, Los Angeles goes to $25,208, Chicago to $15,875, and the District of Columbia rises to $28,170.
Plainly, the entire rationale behind this popular note is wrong. Prices are not determined by false analogy. Just as easily, one could make a similar mistake in regard to both truck drivers and merchant ship captains. Tractor trailer truck drivers are in charge of transporting one tractor trailer over long distances. For this, tractor trailer drivers make, on average, $44,873 per year. Therefore, merchant ship captains, who routinely are in charge of transporting the equivalent of 15,000 tractor trailers, should be paid approximately $673,095,000 per year ($44,873*15,000).
What misguided reasoning.
As I said, prices are not determined by false analogy.
In the absence of intervention, prices are determined by the supply of, and the demand for, goods and services.
The price of labor is no exception.
Saying, or implying, otherwise is simply false.
This post was first published by LvMI Canada.
Also published on Medium.