The United States isn’t serious about education reform unless it can be be brought about on the cheap. Most particularly, we are unwilling to pay teachers what it would take to attract enough of the best and brightest away from other careers. Teaching is a career for the college educated. If you compare teacher pay to what other college educated workers earn and look around the world, the U.S. looks lousy.
Here’s the evidence, taken from the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2012.
Let me call out a few of the relevant comparisons. To match the relative pay, American teachers would need to rise by
- Korea: 89 percent.
- Canada: 52 percent.
- Finland: 42 percent.
It’s perfectly reasonable for us to have a discussion about re-arranging teacher compensation. More salary, less benefits? Merit versus seniority pay? More hours of work? But the sine qua non is much higher salaries.