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Teacher pay: Overcompensated

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Monday, Nov. 7, 2011

A new Heritage Foundation study overturns the conventional wisdom that public-school teachers are underpaid, finding their compensation actually exceeds market value by $120 billion.

For example, when teachers and non-teachers' cognitive ability -- not their own educational attainment, a more common measure -- is compared, the wage gap disappears. And that's not the only indicator of overcompensation.

Public-school teachers earn more than private-school teachers. And when non-teachers take teaching jobs, they make about 9 percent more; when teachers take non-teaching jobs, they make about 3 percent less.

Salaries for similarly skilled public-school teachers and private-sector workers are comparable. But teachers' retiree health care benefits -- almost unknown in the private sector -- are worth about an extra 10 percent of wages, with their job security worth another 1 percent to 8.6 percent.

That makes teachers' "total compensation 52 percent greater than fair market levels, equivalent to more than $120 billion overcharged to taxpayers each year," the study concludes.

Distorted by teachers unions, it's a market that's neither free nor fair -- especially to the taxpayers whose pockets are plundered to overpay teachers.

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