The debate over teacher pay is nothing new. And neither are the arguments about assumptions and methodologies. How do you assign a value to pensions and health benefits? How do you count the time teachers spend working outside the classroom or during summers? How do you factor in job protections and possibilities for advancement?
If you want a lengthy, detailed version of the debate, I highly recommend a 2005 exchange between economists Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute* and Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri-Columbia. But, writing in the Washington Post last week, he made the case for paying teachers more rather than less:
…we’ll never attract the kind of talented young people we need to the teaching profession unless it pays far more than it does today. With starting teacher salaries averaging $39,000 nationally, and rising to an average maximum of $67,000, it’s no surprise that we draw teachers from the bottom two-thirds of the college class; for schools in poor neighborhoods, teachers come largely from the bottom third.
Miller didn’t pull those numbers out of thin air. They come from a report that McKinsey & Company published last year…