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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » American Teachers Do More Work for Less Pay Than Their International Peers

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Author Topic: American Teachers Do More Work for Less Pay Than Their International Peers
philnotfil
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good.is

quote:
Ever wonder how the hours American teachers work and the salary they earn compares to teachers in other industrialized nations? Well, the picture's not pretty. In this infographic courtesy of the Future Journalism Project, American educators work the most hours of all industrialized nations, but are the fifth lowest paid after 15 years on the job. Only Luxembourg, Hungary, Iceland, and Norway pay their teachers less.

And how do we compare to the country that's number one in the world in education according to international tests, Finland? Teachers there work the fifth fewest hours and are the ninth lowest paid. Sure, no one goes into education for the money, but at a certain point doesn't it seem wrong that teachers pretty much everywhere else on this chart work less but get paid more?

We spend more on education pretty much everyone else, our teachers put in more time than pretty much every one else, but we pay our teachers less than pretty much everyone else? Something here doesn't seem right.
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TomDavidson
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Administrators, security staff, and facilities. We pay a LOT for administrators, security staff, and facilities. At my daughter's school, those costs account for nearly 45% of the budget.
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Grant
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What doesn't seem right is that we put in more money, and the teachers work more hours, but we don't have better results.
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LetterRip
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Wow,

talk about misleading. First it is using annual salary. Finland has the equivalent of another month of instruction per year.

Then it uses GDP/capita - if the US has a higher per capita successful entrepreneurs then that skews the result heavily.

Checking the 'hours' source (it says OECD Indicators at a glance - so checking it)

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/45/39/45926093.pdf

The relevant table D4.2 pg 417 says 'Net contact time in hours per year in public institutions by level of education, and index of change from 1996 to 2008'

It references this Annex for more detail

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/44/27/45932018.pdf

If we look at the methodology - the US data is based on surveys of what hours teachers claim to work inside and outside the classroom. All other countries are based on length of school day, and required times of supervision. So the US hours are drastically over estimated and other countries are underestimated.

Essentially the hours numbers can't be compared at all.

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LetterRip
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Of course we should also mention that most other schools have far more students per teacher than the US.
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philnotfil
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LR, thanks for digging into those numbers, and thanks for the links to the OECD data.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Wow,

talk about misleading. First it is using annual salary. Finland has the equivalent of another month of instruction per year.

Then it uses GDP/capita - if the US has a higher per capita successful entrepreneurs then that skews the result heavily.

LOL, that's the first I saw when I looked at the link. GDP/Capita? What the Frak? Who measures salaries in GDP/Capita? [Eek!]

That was a hilarious chart designed to have a specific outcome. "Lies, damned lies, and statistics"!


Next Up: US cars rank as the slowest in the developed world*

*Fine Print: As determined by the time required to transit the country east to west. Route through the US considered from Key West, Florida, to Washington, up to Alaska, to the farthest roadable point in the Aleutian Islands then ferry to Hawaii.

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philnotfil
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Spent some quality time with LR's links.

I'm not sure how the link I provided got overall numbers, I'm going to provide numbers for primary and lower secondary education, upper secondary is too different from country to country.

I agree that the salary information is misleading, both because of the hours worked, the average class size, and the fact that they present the value in terms of a percentage of GDP.

There is actually a chart of teacher salaries converting into US dollars using PPPs (Table D3.1. Teachers' salaries), so I used that number instead. I used information on average class size (Table D2.1. Average class size, by type of institution and level of education) to get a per pupil per year value. I used class size instead of teacher to student ratio because I know that number is skewed in the US, and I think that actual classroom size is closer in meaning to what people think teacher to student ratio means. I then used the net teaching time (Table D4.1. Organisation of teachers' working time) to get a value per pupil per hour. Looking at "Net teaching time in hours" for the US, this number seems reasonably accurate, it works out to about six hours per day.

I will compare US numbers to the OECD average, Finland, Japan, Korea, Portugal, and Spain. Finland, Japan, and Korea are countries that consistently at the top of educational rankings. Portugal and Spain are consistently at the bottom.

Primary (elementary school) salary per pupil per hour:
US- 1.7
OECD- 2.3
Finland- 2.9
Japan- 2.4
Korea- 2.2
Portugal- 2.2
Spain- 2.3

Lower Secondary (middle school) salary per pupil per hour:
US- 1.8
OECD- 2.5
Finland- 3.4
Japan- 2.4
Korea- 2.5
Portugal- 2.1
Spain- 2.7

So it looks like we do in fact pay our teachers less for more work.

Technically the interpretation above should be that we pay our teachers less per unit of work. I suppose we should also look at do they actually work more, since they could get paid less per unit of work, but still be doing less work, and one of the original claims was that they worked more than teachers in other countries.

Taking teaching hours times class size we can get a number of contact hours per year:
US- 25,558
OECD- 16,984
Finland- 13,391
Japan- 19,891
Korea- 25,179
Portugal- 16,033
Spain- 18,502

It looks we do expect more units of work than other countries do.

So, the link I posted didn't run the numbers quite right, but did get at something which was correct. US teachers do more work (45-50% more units of work), and get paid less (26-27% less per unit of work).

Which really makes the question of what we are spending the money on much more important. We spend 70% more per pupil than these other countries, but we are spending significantly less on the teachers providing instruction than those countries. Where is the money going?

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JWatts
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It appears from this data (OECD) that:

quote:
American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average is 794 hours on primary education, 709 hours on lower secondary education, and 653 hours on upper secondary education general programs.
Link

So American teachers spend on average (assuming a 50 week year) about 22 hours per week in the class room which is apparently way above average for the OECD.

So the American system apparently much more efficient that the OECD on teacher time. That's good to know.

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
It appears from this data (OECD) that:

quote:
American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year. Across the O.E.C.D., the average is 794 hours on primary education, 709 hours on lower secondary education, and 653 hours on upper secondary education general programs.
Link

So American teachers spend on average (assuming a 50 week year) about 22 hours per week in the class room which is apparently way above average for the OECD.

So the American system apparently much more efficient that the OECD on teacher time. That's good to know.

How do you get to that conclusion? We spend more time in the classroom to get worse results. I don't see how that translates into being more efficient? Was this supposed to be sarcasm?
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JWatts
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When did student results crop into this thread? It was pretty much about pay per unit of work until this point.

As such, by your own statistics the American system results in more teaching hours per dollar spent. Which is a good thing. It means the American system is for efficient.

It does not mean that the American system is more effective and I did not mean to imply it was.

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philnotfil
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Ah, you were comparing cost to hours of work. Got it. Yes, we are more efficient at getting more hours of work for less cost.

[ April 27, 2011, 12:42 PM: Message edited by: philnotfil ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
As such, by your own statistics the American system results in more teaching hours per dollar spent. Which is a good thing. It means the American system is for efficient.

That means its cheaper; it says nothing about efficiency. You have to measure time vs. results to get efficiency; the valuation of that labor isn't directly relevant in that equation.

And even then, efficiency isn't the most important factor; we should be optimizing for best overall quality of education, even if that means some amount of inefficiency.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
Ah, you were comparing cost to hours of work. Got it. Yes, we are more efficient at getting more hours of work for less cost.

In other words- we're great at exploitation, without regard to actual relevant results.
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by philnotfil:
Ah, you were comparing cost to hours of work. Got it. Yes, we are more efficient at getting more hours of work for less cost.

In other words- we're great at exploitation, without regard to actual relevant results.
I would agree that this is an accurate summary of what JWatts said.

[ April 27, 2011, 01:20 PM: Message edited by: philnotfil ]

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LetterRip
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philnotfil,

Here is PPP salaries for teachers from a different source

http://www.worldsalaries.org/teacher.shtml

Note that US teachers are making way more on average.

Also note that the compulsory deductions are lower than the majority of OECD countries.

Note also that the weekly hours is typical.

The flaw with the OECD methodology is that when they use US data they are going off of low quality surveys (how much did you earn, how much did work - woe is me, I wasn't paid hardly nuttin and I was worked half to death), even though for every other country they appear to be using a standardized methodology.

If you use the same methodology for the US as you use for every other country then our teachers are paid a lot more, pay less in taxes than most, and work about the same hours as most, with smaller class sizes.

[ April 27, 2011, 02:08 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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philnotfil
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The hours per week for American teachers is higher in the link you just provided than in the OECD numbers I used. I'm not sure how that would support the idea that the OECD numbers on hours worked is inflated for American teachers.

The OECD salary numbers are based on a sampling of district salary schedules. These aren't "woe is me, I wasn't paid hardly nuttin and I was worked half to death" estimates, these are established, printed, and publicly accessible documents.

The worldsalaries numbers for the US are higher than I would expect to see. When I follow the BLS link that they provide, they are also higher than the BLS says that they should be. The worldsalaries link claims $5266 per month, but the BLS claims $4864 per month mean or $4692 per month median (with a median of $45,151 per year). The ILO numbers (the source of most of the numbers for teachers outside the US) give us $46,090 per year as a median.

Given that the OECD numbers line up with what I have seen in the past, and that the worldsalaries numbers don't line up with the sources they are citing, I'm going to go with the OECD numbers as being at least functionally accurate.

I have no idea about the after tax pay comparison between countries. [Smile]

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philnotfil
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Additionally, if I use the tax calculator that worldsalaries used (at http://www.paycheckcity.com, basic salary paycheck calculator), set to 2005 tax rates, I end up with $3938 per month after taxes instead of $4055 per month after taxes.

It could be that I'm bad at taxes, but I set it as if I were single with no dependents (I think). If anyone else can get the $4055 number I would be interested in seeing how you got there.

P.S. Thanks for bringing up these other items, my work is mind-numbingly boring and I do it in half the time of the person I replaced, so I spend a lot of time staring at Excel wishing I had something meaningful to.

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JWatts
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I frankly have a hard time believing the OECD data on hours. According to the figures, teachers in South Korea teach about 550 hours per year.

Here is a description of the South Korean school year:
quote:
The school year in South Korea typically runs from March to February. The year is divided into two semesters (March to July and September to February). School days are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but many stay later into the evening.
Students attend school Monday to Friday, with some Saturday classes scattered throughout the year.
Read more: School Years around the World — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/world/statistics/school-years.html#ixzz1Kksji6Xi

Assuming that they are in school only 180 days a year (though the above looks like a longer period) , it implies that the average South Korean teacher only teaches (550/180) 3.1 hours per day.

[ April 27, 2011, 04:10 PM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

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philnotfil
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I can't say anything about anything other than the American hours and wages, which appear to be in line with what I have seen in other places and at other times.
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ken_in_sc
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I am a retired middle school and high school history teacher. Teaching was my 2nd career. If I had known how stressful and how much work it was, I would not have gone into it. I usually worked 60 to 80 hours a week during school and spent every summer taking classes to maintain or up-grade my teaching certificate. The money was not all that bad. I do not really have a complaint about the pay. My complaint is about the unfairness. Not all educators are equal. Some teachers do not have to spend a lot of time preparing lessons or grading papers. PE teachers, for example, get paid extra if they spend time after hours on their jobs. Most other teachers don't. If you get burned out on classroom teaching, the best thing to do is get an Administrator's Certificate, and get out of the classroom. That's where administrators come from, but for some reason they forget everything they learned as classroom teachers. I retired early to get away from asshat administrators.
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