AEI 2011: Looking at teacher pay in a whole new way

Article Highlights

  • How public-school teacher pay overcharges taxpayers $120 billion per year #AEI2011

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  • Mitch Daniels on how he reformed education in Indiana #AEI2011

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  • Education majors getting an easy A compared to other disciplines #AEI2011

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In the last two weeks of this year, the AEI 2011 series will highlight the institute's work that has made an impact, made a difference and made headlines over the past year.

Are teachers paid too much? It's a question that would ignite heated debate at the most mellow of cocktail parties. But it's a question that AEI took head-on this year with startling new research about public-school compensation and insight into how well-prepared teachers are when they step into the classroom.


"Assessing the Compensation of Public-School Teachers" by Andrew G. Biggs and Jason Richwine:

We conclude that public-school teacher salaries are comparable to those paid to similarly skilled private sector workers, but that more generous fringe benefits for public-school teachers, including greater job security, make total compensation 52 percent greater than fair market levels, equivalent to more than $120 billion overcharged to taxpayers each year. Teacher compensation could therefore be reduced with only minor effects on recruitment and retention. Alternatively, teachers who are more effective at raising student achievement might be hired at comparable cost.

EVENT VIDEO: Are Public School Teachers Overpaid?

SPECIAL TOPIC: Find all of Biggs' op-eds on this controversial subject and more at the Teacher Pay page

RELATED: Comparing Federal and Private Sector Compensation


Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels came to AEI in May amid swirling speculation that might take a stab at the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He kept his addressed focused on the topic at hand, though: what he did to reform education in his home state, and lessons that can be learned from Indiana's success. Full video of the event can be watched here; Daniels also sat down afterward to chat with The American editor Nick Schulz in an exclusive interview:


It's the paper that looks at "easy A" in a whole new way: Cory Koedel, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Missouri, penned an Education Outlook studying the grade inflation of education majors as compared to other fields of study.

Low grading standards in university education departments are part of a larger culture of low standards for educators, and they precede the low evaluation standards by which teachers are judged in K-12 schools. The culture of low standards for educators is problematic because it creates a disconnect between teachers' perceptions of acceptable performance and the perceptions of everyone else.

More popular items this year in education:

VIDEO: Degrees of Difficulty: Can American Higher Education Regain Its Edge?

OUTLOOK: Cheap for Whom? How Much Higher Education Costs Taxpayers

FUTURE OF AMERICAN EDUCATION PROJECT: Opportunities for Efficiency and Innovation: A Primer on How to Cut College Costs

Bridget Johnson is the managing editor of

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We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

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