Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Education Mafia

Last year we ran the story about Oklahoma teachers making more money per year than Texas teachers and how the education mafia manipulates the statistics and the public in their never ending shrill demands for even more money from the state budget. The mantra is always the same "Oklahoma teachers are 49th in the nation in pay and we are losing teachers."

Teachers salaries average $44,128 in Oklahoma according to the National Education Association and are alleged to be the lowest in the region and 49thnationally.  That however is a complete and total lie.  Once you factor in the retirement payments another 300 million dollars a year comes into the equation, around $7,255.00 per teacher.  Oklahoma like most states has a defined benefit retirement plan with rather large but shrinking unfunded liabilities that the state contributes toward each year as part of the teacher payroll.  Some states like Arkansas and Texas run the entire retirement plan payment through the education payroll but Oklahoma runs far less through the payroll; 9.5% of salary versus Arkansas's 14% of salary.  Then Oklahoma kicks in an additional 5% from sales taxes, use taxes, corporate and individual income taxes, and lottery revenue.   In total Oklahoma kicks in over 17% of the salary but the NEA only counts the 9.5% that flows directly through the payroll system.

Total average teacher salary and pension payments amount to $51,869 which is around the middle of the road nationally.
But the cost of living and financial capability of local governments varies widely. If you really want to put a handle on teacher pay look at this chart that shows the rate of pay for a teacher compared to the medium household income in that state.   Now stop for a second and remember that this compares a single teacher salary to the entire household income, mother, father, and any working kids under 21 years of age….   Notice that Oklahoma is only 17 slot from the top!  In other words, an Oklahoma teacher makes as much money as the average working couple in Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma 2014 per capita median income is $25,229.00.

Another metric is to compare the teacher salary to the cost of a home in that state.  Generally your salary ought to be no less than one third the cost of a home in your area.  Oklahoma teachers are ninth from the top, meaning teachers are doing very well in Oklahoma.
Then the percentage of benefits paid per dollar of salary is a good metric with Oklahoma being 11th from the bottom but higher than most of the surrounding states.   Using the NEA's own info Oklahoma is 12th from the bottom when salaries are adjusted for the cost of living in each state.

But when we compare salary and the average household income in a state we also need to look at the hourly rate of pay and the number of hours worked.  The simple fact is that teaching is a part time job by definition.  Teacher contracts usually call for a teacher to show up 15 to 20 minutes before the first class starts and they must remain 15 to 20 minutes as after the last class ends.  They have a six hour work day, with one hour spent for planning or grading papers so the actual work in front of a class  is only  five hours and figure 30 to 40 minutes before and after class. And really, most of us show up a bit early for work or stay a bit late afterward or take work home.  Now that is only around 180 days of the 365 days per year and seven to eight of those days are days when students are not present.  Then there is usually 13 personal or sick days per year, meaning a teacher actually works five hours a day x 167 days a year or 1002 actual hours worked per year.

Take the salary and benefits of $51,869 and divide by the 1002 hours of actual work per year, being generous by ignoring the 1/5th of the work day they do not teach students, and you have $51.77 per hour in salary and benefits.  Looking at it from the part time viewpoint a teacher earns twice the Oklahoma median income by working 64% fewer hours.  The average work week is 46.7 hours for private industry.

But teachers have a degree, right?  Must have advanced skills and a tough time getting accepted and through school, right? No, about forty years ago the advice was that if your GPA was low your best bet was to go for the Education major.  To this day the easiest college major is the education major where GPA scores actually go up as the student progresses as the test questions are subjective and not dependent on getting a single answer to the question.

Education majors enter college with the lowest average SAT scores and leave with the highest grades.  The University of Missouri did a study by Cory Koedel that found education majors received substantially higher grades than students in the other majors.  An average of .5 to .8 points per GPA higher for education majors.   A science or math major will graduate with 2.99 gpa, 3.12 for social science majors, 3.16 for humanity majors, and 3.80 for education majors.

The study also found that low expectations of teachers at college lead to lower expectations as teachers.  Why study hard if everyone can easily earn an A grade?  A study called "Closing the Talent Gap" found that half of all new teachers come from the lowest third of the SAT scores and only 23% of new teachers come from the top third of the SAT scores.   Around the world the best performing school systems draw 100% of their teachers from the top third of SAT scores.

In short we are attracting the less intelligent and laziest individuals into the education field and fixing that means tightening up entry requirements.   Yet somehow these individuals feel that once they graduate with their inflated grades they deserve twice the median household income and will work only 64% of the time that the average American citizen works.
Even more amazing is this OCPA report that shows billions of tax dollars sitting unused in school district bank accounts, in some cases this money unspent from previous years and carried forward is the largest income stream for the year!

The one thing that the teachers union is good at is coercing the citizens and government into forking over increasing percentages of the budget.   Education spending as a percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) started out at about 1% prior to the 20th Century so our country became great and prosperous with this level of spending.  Spending peaked out at 4% in the middle of the Great Depression and leveled off at 3% prior to WWII.  During the war spending dropped to 1.25% and recovered to 3% after the war.  Then in the fifties education spending skyrocketed to 5.7 % and averaged 4.7 up until the mid eighties.  In the 90's education spending hit 5.3% and has leveled off at 6.1% of the nations' GPD.

As a consumer who would advocate rewarding company or worker when their performance is at historic low levels?    Why would we strip support from the poor, the veterans, the sick and disabled, or from the other state workers to plough millions more into a failing system?