That’s about right:
Another horrific massacre by another psychopath, another inevitable several weeks of hyper-coverage and heartbreaking stories about innocent-child victims who are somehow more worthy of public displays of grief than all the other innocent-child victims of tragic death on the same day, another orgy of sickening anti-American smugness in the international press, and of course another shrieking chorus of poorly-thought-out demands for more gun control laws because evidently our “murder control” laws aren’t enough.
It’s downright Pavlovian.
There’s a letter to the editor in the West Bend Daily News that is revealing of a mindset that’s worth exploring. Let’s take a little looksee.
Compare teachers’ pay to business salaries
As a spouse of someone who spent eight years in graduate school after four years of college while teaching in the 1970s and early 1980s, I wonder why the majority of the public doesn’t find the starting wages of teachers a little embarrassing, after four to five years of advanced education and then three years of probation.
Those with business degrees after only four years of advanced education start out at $50,000 while teachers in Hartford now start out at $33,000. Next year it’ll increase to $34,000. How shameful we pay our teachers one-third less than a beginning business person gets right out of college. When you add in time on weekends, plus correcting tests, reading essays, etc., these teachers work the same number of hours per year – easily an average of 10-plus hours per week extra. Yet they’re paid $17,000 less.
There are three really glaring issues with this. First is the notion that the level of one’s education should determine one’s level of compensation. While in the aggregate the level of education trends with compensation, it is not universal by any means. The level of a person’s compensation is determined by the demand for skills coupled with the supply of people who have those skills. If we were silly with neurosurgeons, they wouldn’t make very much. Conversely, if there were only three guys in Wisconsin who know how to drive a truck, they would make a fortune. Specifically in this case, we currently have plenty of people qualified to teach as indicated by the number of qualified applicants whenever positions open up. The taxpayers, as the employer, should only pay what is required to attract and retain a qualified teacher - and not a penny more.
The second thing is related to the first thing. To say that a starting teacher makes $33,000 is to reveal the effect of union contracts that relegate everyone to the same level. If the market were at work, then we may be talking about the “average starting pay” for teachers. Some teachers, whose skills are more commonplace may not deserve a starting pay of $33,000. Other teachers, whose skills are more rare, may deserve quite a bit more.
The final thing that irks me is the same as the second. The notion that all “business persons” are the same. What does that term mean? Business degrees range from management to finance to accounting to marketing and on and on. To say that a starting “business person” is paid $50,000 means nothing. When I got out of school (yes, I have one of those nasty business degrees), some of my peers started at $80k+ and others at much less. My first salary was $19,500. I earn considerably more now and yet I still have the one and only degree. We again return to the fact that one’s compensation is, and should be, derived by an equation of one’s skillset, the demand for that skillset, and its scarcity. If you don’t feel like you earn enough, then develop a skillset with more demand or more scarcity.
Starting out at two-thirds of what a business person does, but yet denying them fringe benefits bargained for over the last 50 years is unconscionable. Also, these teachers don’t have any businesses expenses that are tax-deductible as those in the business community do. That’s why those in middle class public education sectors are able to pay more taxes than those in a similar private business sector job.
Of course those business people with higher incomes and years working are able to deduct more business expenses, so even though teachers’ average income is eventually 50-75 percent more than starting pay, they never catch up in tax deductions allowed, while business average income doubles.
Clearly, this writer has no idea how business expenses work. Unless you own the business, business expenses don’t mean a hill of beans. When I incur business expenses on behalf of my employer, I do not get to deduct them against the salary that my employer pays me. The business deducts those expenses. This is because generally the government taxes profits - not revenue. Business expenses are costs that reduce profits. Regardless, the vast majoruty of “business persons” do not gain any personal benefit from business expenses. In fact, many owners don’t either sice they eat into their profits.
As you can see, the system is rigged. But yet there are two-thirds of Washington County residents who think teachers are overpaid while business people aren’t. Why is that? As an afterthought you don’t see teachers getting bonuses and golden parachutes either, do you?
Kenneth L. Smith Hartford
Something else we didn’t see is mass layoffs of teachers during this recession as many of those “business people” are still looking for work.