Labor Day Statistics

How do the numbers of teachers compare with other occupations?


How do teacher salaries compare across the profession?


Notice that the annual mean wage of elementary and secondary school teachers is $33,330. This annual salary is lowest of all teaching occupations. Also, notice that nearly every industry in the private sector pays their teachers/instructors more than double the K-12 annual mean wage.

Here is a comparison of the states with the highest annual mean salary and the lowest:


Believe it or not the states in the following table prohibit teachers from collective bargaining:

Do teacher unions succeed in gaining resources for teachers?

“A fairly recent study focused on whether unions were more successful in gaining resources for teachers in the form of pay and smaller teaching loads. The data was compiled from 10,000 school districts over a period of 30 years. Results show that teacher salaries were 5% higher and had 1.7 pupils fewer than comparable non-union schools.

An earlier comprehensive study of teacher salaries was done in 1982. In this study wage changes were used to estimate a wage pay premium when a school district moves to union representation for teachers. The estimated pay premium in this study was about 12 percent and is comparable to pay premiums in the private sector. Results indicate that teachers in a district with a collective bargaining agreement will earn significantly more than one that does not have such an agreement and provides a significant economic incentive for teachers to be pro-union.

Another study used Census data for school districts in 1970, 1980 and 1990. The most recent data from this study estimates a union pay premium at 5.1% for 1990.”
From “Unions and Teachers: Differences in the State of the Nation”, By Carol Wright and David E. Gundersen

Is there a correlation between unionized teachers and student performance?

“A number of studies show that unions improve student achievement. One of the most recent and comprehensive was conducted by Steelman, Powell, and Carini in the Harvard Educational Review. Based on the premise that investing in education is an investment in human capital, it suggested that education should be looked at differently than looking at productivity in the private sector. The study looked at State variations in teacher unionization and education productivity measured by SAT and ACT scores. Covered states are defined as those where all teachers are covered by a collective bargaining or meet-and-confer agreements.

The authors of the study summarized their findings stating “… we find a statistically significant and positive relationship between State teacher unionization rates and State standardized test scores after controlling for potential confounding factors.” In explaining the results, the authors state that unionized schools are more likely to have a lower student-teacher ratio, higher per capita expenditures, higher teacher salaries, better working conditions, better teacher training, and greater worker autonomy.

Other studies also suggest that unions provide student achievement benefits. Research by Argys and Rees used math scores from tenth grade from a base of math scores from eighth grade. Results indicated that student performance in union schools increased 1.3% more over the two-year period compared to nonunion schools. Another study using SAT scores and data from the National Assessment of Economic Education survey found that performance improved at a 1.9% rate for union schools compared to nonunion schools.”
– From “Unions and Teachers: Differences in the State of the Nation”, By Carol Wright and David E. Gundersen

Are Teachers’ Unions Good or Bad for Education?
“Are teacher unions good or bad for education? Public opinion differs andresearch results that were previously discussed are inconclusive. A 1998 Gallup Poll asked the public whether they believe teacher unions made a difference in the quality of education. Results showed that 27% believed unions helped, 26% believed they hurt, 37% believed they made no difference, and 10% had no opinion.”
From “Unions and Teachers: Differences in the State of the Nation”, By Carol Wright and David E. Gundersen

Do Teachers’ Unions Have Too Much Power?
“The current contract between the Board of Education and the UFT can best be described as a “we-don’t-do-windows” document. Among the tasks that principals are forbidden to require of teachers under the contract: attending more than one staff meeting per month after school hours, walking the children to a school bus, patrolling the hallways or the lunchroom or the schoolyard, covering an extra class in an emergency, attending a lunchtime staff meeting, or coming in a few days prior to the opening of school each September to do some planning.

The contract undermines teacher professionalism, excellence, and hard work in other ways. In all but a handful of the city’s schools, principals must fill many of their teacher vacancies according to seniority rather than merit. J. Cozzi Perullo, principal of the elite Stuyvesant High School, has complained that she has no control over who is hired for half of the school’s posted vacancies. And when a teacher does transfer from one city school to another, the principal of the new school can’t even get the previous principal’s written comments on the transferring teacher’s personnel file.

The contract makes it almost insurmountably difficult for a principal even to begin the process of charging a teacher with incompetence under the union-written state education law. Every time the principal wants to record a negative evaluation in the teacher’s personnel file, the teacher can contest that single entry through three separate grievance procedures, leading all the way up to the Board of Education. Even after the Board has upheld the principal, the teacher, with the help of the union, can go to arbitration to contest the single negative entry. The process is so tortuous that most principals don’t even bother trying; they accept it as a fact of school life that a certain number of incompetent teachers must be carried on the payroll.

Jorge Izquierdo of P.S. 163 in Manhattan is one of the rare principals who have not only tried to purge incompetent teachers but are willing to speak publicly about the issue. He told me that in the case of one totally dysfunctional teacher, he has spent close to 100 hours out of the building over the past two years in grievance sessions at the district office, at the Board of Education, and at arbitration sessions. Although every one of his negative evaluations has eventually been upheld, he still must go through the process for another year before this one employee might have to face formal disciplinary charges—a process that could take several more years. “I am like the CEO of a little corporation,” says Izquierdo. “I am judged by whether or not I achieve the equivalent of a profit—how much the children gain in learning. But unlike any other CEO, I can’t hire the people who work here or fire them when they’re incompetent.”
From “How Teachers’ Unions Handcuff Schools”, by
Sol Stern

Happy Labor Day!


Full Disclosure: Early in my career I was on the negotiating committee for the Teachers’ Association in my district. Our teachers defied a court order and went on strike. We settled one day later.


3 thoughts on “Labor Day Statistics

  1. I don’t get how the Sol Stern excerpt got here. It is an outdated mishmash of distortions, exaggerations, and half-truths.

    Thanks for the rest, though. And I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day.

  2. Pingback: Power Of Law Forms

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