Teacher Pay Around the World

CaptureDick Startz, in the Brookings blog, provides comparative information on teacher pay around the world. It turns out, the U.S. doesn’t look so generous.

Following are excerpts from the blog:

American teachers are underpaid.

More specifically, American teachers are underpaid when compared to teachers in the nations we compete with. Let me begin with a picture showing how we compare to Finland—everyone’s favorite educational success story and a country not noted for paying its teachers especially well.

Even against modest-paying Finland, American teachers are underpaid. If we wanted to raise the relative salaries of American teachers to the level seen in Finland, we’d require a 10 percent raise for primary school teachers, an 18 percent raise in lower secondary, and a 28 percent raise for upper secondary school teachers.

The OECD has put together a set of comparisons of teacher pay to earnings of all college graduates. You can see in the chart that both Finland and the United States pay teachers less than they pay other college graduates, but Finland gets notably closer than we do.

The quick lesson is that in most industrialized countries relative teacher pay is higher than in the United States.

It’s very easy to imagine many, many potential teachers who have made the decision to forego a teaching career in order to better provide for their family.

Dollars aren’t the only thing that determines career choice. Prestige and working conditions matter too. (Finland pays a fair amount better than the U.S. The prestige attached to being a teacher is enormously higher.) My guess is that being a teacher has both more prestige and better working conditions in other industrialized countries than here at home. (How do administrators treat teachers? How do parents treat teachers? Heck even, how do students treat teachers?) Making teaching a financially more attractive career isn’t the only thing that matters for who teaches. It does matter though, and probably it matters a lot.

For more see: http://brook.gs/295ME10