Teacher pay does Matter!! (go figure…)
by Fritz Fekete
This is an oldie but goodie, submitted by our stalwart member Drew Cullen from NY-NEA.Constance Bond: Teacher Salaries Affect Student Outcomes
By Inside TC Volume VII No. 1Published: 9/1/2001

Constance K. Bond who received her Ph.D. in Politics and Education in May 2001, has written a controversial dissertation, “Do Teacher Salaries Matter?” which says, in effect, money does matter and one way to spend educational dollars effectively is to significantly increase teacher salaries.

“I started doing this research,” Bond said, “because I didn’t want my dissertation to sit on a shelf. It was important for me that it actually have an impact on systemic reform.”

“It became very clear to me then that the teacher/student relationship is salient,” added Bond, who was a middle school teacher at the Frank D. Parent Elementary School in Inglewood, California in the early 1990s. “If you could get the best and brightest teacher in every classroom in every school, you would be amazed what could be achieved. So I wanted my research to actually contribute to that issue.”

After looking through teacher quality studies and teacher recruitment studies, she discovered that there was very little about teacher salaries.

“Yet my instincts said that teacher salaries obviously have some kind of impact,” she said.

“So, I went back to the research that was done in the 1970s stemming from the 1966 Coleman Report, Equality of Educational Opportunity,” she said. “Teacher salaries were a variable in most of the equations but did not prove to be significant, positive or negative, in most of them.”

Her theory about why it was missed is twofold. The first part is that per pupil expenditure and teacher salaries are interrelated, she said. It is difficult to include both in the equation because per pupil expenditure includes teacher salaries.

“So it may have been missed there because per pupil expenditure came out as significant in a number of studies,” she said.

Secondly, researchers were probably not using the correct salary variable.

“Just using average salaries masks important differences,” she explained. “That is what led to my research in terms of which variables I used. I ended up using nine separate salary variables ranging from beginning salaries to the highest salary on the schedule to the change in average salaries over a decade.”

For Bond the variable that came out to be the most interesting and significant in a number of relationships was the gap between teacher salaries and those of similarly educated professionals at the Bachelor’s level. According to Bond, when students graduate from college and are out job hunting, it matters how much teachers are getting paid in relation to their friends and other professionals. This, Bond maintains, is important because average salary and the gap at the Bachelor’s level are not necessarily the same thing.

“You can have a state with a very high average salary,” Bond said, “but also have a very significant gap. You can have states with low gaps and low salaries. The range of the salary gap between teachers and others with a Bachelor’s degree is almost $22,000 a year nationwide. The average national gap exceeds $13,000 a year.”

How one looks at earnings over a lifetime is also significant for Bond.

“When you earn $13,000 a year less than your counterparts in other professions, it really adds up over a lifetime. It contributes to one of the greatest myths in our society-that teachers don’t care about how much they get paid,” she said.

“The differential must be considered if we plan to recruit and retain nearly three million educators in the coming decade,” she added. “This number is larger than the number of lawyers, doctors, and judges combined.”

Bond sees the myth dating back to the fact that teaching was always thought to be a predominately female profession. Bond said, “It’s just not the case anymore. Other research corroborates that we are losing the best and brightest women and minorities who used to be the key components of our teaching force. They are leaving, or never choosing to enter the profession, because they know they can do better elsewhere.”

Bond added that the highest teacher attrition figures are during the first five years of teaching. “If we can get teachers to stay for ten years they don’t tend to leave,” said Bond, “but we are losing people in the early years at a very rapid rate. A large number of them never make it through their first year. They get a better opportunity and move on.”

During her statistical analysis of state-level teacher salary, teacher attrition, and student outcome variables, Bond found that states with significantly higher teacher salaries, particularly as compared to other workers with a Bachelor’s degree, had higher fourth and eighth grade math scores, lower student drop-out rates, and lower new teacher attrition rates. All of these results remained even when considering state poverty rates, parent education levels, and percent minority.

“This is powerful stuff,” Bond said. “Paying teachers more improves student outcomes.”

Bond proffers policy recommendations. She said, “A salary increase is necessary, but it is the scope of this increase that is most important. State boards of education and school boards consistently talk in very small increases-a typical cost of living increase of only $1,000 or $2,000. They debate these minor increases for months.”

“If we really want to make a change,” she continued, “we are talking about a 40 percent increase in teaching salaries. I would say anything less than $15,000 per year isn’t going to make the difference. It is just going to be another Band-aid.”

Another recommendation concerns how to facilitate the actual change in salaries. Bond used two case studies, one in Connecticut and the other in the New Haven Unified School District in Northern California. She said, “Connecticut is one of the only states that has substantially increased teacher salaries, and they did so in 1988 with the Education Enhancement Act.”

As a result, test scores, especially their reading test scores, have gone through the roof, despite the fact that median income in the state fell over the period and the percent of minorities increased. Given these changing demographics, test scores should have fallen, not risen. In addition, teacher attrition figures in the state dropped.

“Now the New Haven Unified School District is a completely different example,” she added. “This district serves working class communities. It had abysmal test scores. It couldn’t get kids to come to the school district. Early in the 1990s it decided to focus on teacher salaries, with profound results. Student outcomes improved dramatically and now there is a waiting list to get into the district. What’s astounding is that New Haven managed to significantly improve teacher salaries without increasing per-pupil expenditure. They accomplished this by flattening the hierarchical bureaucracy and placing middle managers back in the classroom.”

However, Bond said, when dealing on the state level it becomes more complicated. “One of the things that Connecticut did to ensure that urban districts could compete for teachers was that it mandated that teacher salaries in urban districts be on par with suburban districts. This gave Connecticut one of the smallest state-level gaps between teacher salaries and salaries of similarly-educated professionals. However, even Connecticut has a substantial gap.”

Bond is convinced that the federal government is an important player in promoting teacher salary increases. “If anything,” she said, “it is agenda setting. Whatever is discussed in the halls of Congress is discussed across the country. The federal government has a large role to play, especially concerning the issue of equality of opportunity. This includes equal access to an excellent education for all American children.”

Bond said her research shows that teachers are not asking for extraordinary amounts of money.

“Teachers like what they are doing and want to educate children,” she said. “They just are looking to be paid what other professionals receive. It’s not about greed. Money does, however, clearly matter.”

August 2006Achievement Gap Dust-Up
by Fritz Fekete
Social Class, Schooling and Achievement…AgainOn August 9th, 2006 New York Times reporter Diana Jean Schemo wrote a column, It Takes More Than Schools to Close Achievement Gap [PDF], which raised the issue of how much non-school factors determine student educational success. In her column she reflected on EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein’s work in Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black–White Achievement Gap. Schemo’s article generated many responses, including an important one by Chester E. Finn (see March of the pessimists), president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, in its publication, Gadfly. Rothstein has in turn written a response to Finn (a shorter version been published in Gadfly, and his full response [PDF] is available as well).

Other research relevant to this debate includes the book, The Charter School Dust-up, co-written by Rothstein, and a re-analysis of the Education Trust’s data on ‘high flyers’ [PDF] by Florida State University professor Doug Harris.

To get the links to these articles, look in the Shared Documents folder on the left for an article titled “Achievement Gap Dust-Up.”

Read Larry Mishel’s Response to Greene’s New Teacher Pay Study . . .
provided to us by Fritz Fekete


This is really ridiculous research and, honestly, should not be reported.

It is based on the only data (National Compensation Survey) that one could point to that shows teacher pay above average and ignores all other data and even all other studies of this, including our own (though it is cited, so they know about it).These data are fundamentally flawed and inappropriate to use, as we explained in our report, attached, on pages 30 to 39. We even offer quotes from BLS statistician saying the use of these data for this purpose is inappropriate (see below). Greene willfully ignores this.  Our conclusion was:

“Our conclusion is that hourly or weekly wage data from the NCS (as given) should not be used to make comparisons between teachers and other occupations”


The bottom line is that these NCS data are based on employer surveys and the NCS measures scheduled hours and results in an apples to oranges comparison when it comes to occupations like teachers which are not year-round and don’t conform to the regular office schedule (40 hours). Manhattan reports weekly and hourly wages based on information which vastly understates the weekly hours of teachers and the weeks worked each year by teachers, thereby vastly overstating their hourly and weekly wages.

  1. Hours per week

So, teachers are considered to work 36-37 hours per week, as measured by the official school day, less lunch, etc. Other occupations don’t have a regular rigid schedule and employers report that accountants, reporters etc work, not surprisingly, about 40 hours (see table 11). There are several studies that show that teachers work as many, if not more, hours than other white-collar workers. The hours that teachers work at school, before and after the bell, or their work at home are EXCLUDED.

  1. Weeks per year

Similarly, the NCS relies on the number of official school days to calculate weeks worked (note that weekly wages is annual wages divided by weeks worked). The NCS reports that teachers work 38 weeks each year. However, the NCS reports that other professionals work 51 or 52 weeks (see table 11). This is an apples and oranges comparison: teachers are measured by days worked while others are measured as days paid (including vacations and holidays). How else can one understand other professional occupations having 51-52 weeks a year, unless the data don’t take into account Federal holidays (10 of them), other holidays, and vacations? Teachers have more than a 38 week work year, unless you believe the summer off lasts 14 weeks. Rather, these data don’t count teacher holidays and vacations during the school year (spring and winter breaks, etc).


So, other workers are assumed to work 40 weekly hours for 52 weeks, the conventional 2080 hours. Teachers are measured with far too few weekly hours and far too few weeks. The consequence is that teacher annual salaries are converted to weekly wages (annual wages divided by weeks worked) to show a way too high weekly wage. This is compounded further by understating teacher weekly hours, causing the calculation of hourly wages (weekly wages divided by weekly hours) to be way too high. If one corrected for the understatement of teachers’ weekly hours and weeks worked per year you wouldn’t find teachers are ‘well-paid’. These data just don’t make sense—see attached document called ‘believe.’


Here are the quotes from the BLS statistician



Given these inconsistencies, it is not surprising that the BLS chief of the Division of Compensation Data Estimation National Compensation Survey noted, in correspondence,

“the futility of comparing salary estimates for periods of less than a year between two occupations with very dissimilar work time requirements over the year and for whom the annual leave entitlements are unknown… Because the published NCS wage estimates do not reflect leave entitlements and the work years of teachers are so dissimilar from most other professional occupations, I would only use the annual salary estimates from NCS to compare teacher pay with the pay of other professionals.” [1]


The NCS is a new survey and still developing.  Correspondence from BLS notes:

“We are actively studying which occupations and groups of occupations should not have earnings estimated and published by hour.  Flight crews on airlines, outside sales representatives, operating personnel on over-the-road railroads are but a few of the occupations in addition to teachers.  The point of this research is to define comprehensive requirements for the estimation systems changes contemplated for 2007.  While we cannot change the tables before 2007, we may be able to amend the introduction sections to our local and national bulletins to include a cautionary note in the near future.[2]






Saving Our Retirement Security: The Link Between Social Security Privatization and Attacks on Public Education Pension Plans

February 15, 2005
TO: NEA Executive Committee
NEA Board of Directors
State Presidents
National Council for Higher Education
National Council for Education Support Professionals
National Council of Urban Education Associations
Student Program
State Executive Directors
Member Trustees
Executive Staff
State Health Care Benefits Liaisons
Collective Bargaining Coordinators
Government Relations Contacts
Cyber Lobbyists
FROM: Reg Weaver and John I. Wilson
RE: Saving Our Retirement Security: The Link Between Social Security Privatization and Attacks on Public Education Pension Plans

NEA members’ retirement security is under attack from many directions. As you know, President Bush recently announced his plans to privatize Social Security, which would have serious consequences for our economy and undermine retirement security. Privatization of Social Security would contribute $2 trillion to our national budget deficit, could eventually lead to lower returns on private investments and higher interest rates paid by the federal government, and would cut benefits for the elderly, as well as eliminating benefits for the disabled and some spouses and children. The purpose of Social Security is to ensure basic income without risk to the individual. No private account can achieve that goal.

Efforts to dismantle Social Security echo the attacks on public employee defined benefit pension plans. Like Social Security, these plans provide a guaranteed benefit for life that can never be taken away, and also like social security, their continuation is at grave risk around the country. Just a few months ago, President Bush made it clear that he understands the connection when he declared, “…And the question is whether or not our society has got the will necessary to adjust from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan” (December 20, 2004 press conference). And as state legislatures have opened their sessions, we have seen one proposal after another — from South Carolina to Alaska — to move public education employees from secure defined benefit pension systems to risky defined contribution plans.

We are alerting you to these attacks and their link to Social Security privatization so that you can be on guard for attacks in your state and join the fight to save social security and help protect the retirement security of members in other states.

Among the states considering action are:

Alaska: A legislative work group is studying switching public employees to defined contribution plans.
California: Considered by many to be the center of the fight to preserve public employee pension plans, Governor Schwarzenegger is pushing hard to convert public employee pension plans to defined contribution retirement plans. If he does not win a legislative victory, he may take the issue to the voters through a ballot initiative.
Georgia: Legislators are investigating the possibility of starting a defined contribution plan.
Kansas: The relevant legislative committee has recommended an optional hybrid plan with a low 1.5% defined benefit formula with an optional DC component.
Maryland: A defined contribution retirement bill has been introduced in the state legislature. This follows last year’s proposal from Gov. Robert Ehrlich to shift the cost of teacher pensions to local governments from state government, which could force education employees into defined contribution plans.
Minnesota: Legislators are reported likely to introduce a defined contribution bill this year, although it is considered unlikely to become law.
New Mexico: The Legislature has endorsed a proposal that would require the $7.3 billion Educational Retirement Association to do a study on changing the system to a defined contribution plan.
South Carolina: Gov. Mark Sanford announced in his state of the state address that he will introduce legislation to form a mandatory defined contribution plan for public employees.
Virginia: A legislator introduced a bill to authorize a study on adding a new defined contribution plan for public employees.
While no steps have been taken, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in testimony before the New York Legislature early last year, said a study by the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, which proposed switching public employees to a defined contribution plan was “worth considering.” The media has recently carried stories about the costly public employee’s pension plans.
For more information on these issues, NEA has several resources available:

Fact sheets on the impact of social security privatization on women, people of color, young workers, and public employees (See This site also gives members the opportunity to contact their members of Congress about this critical issue (
A took kit containing information on defined benefit plans and how to protect them (See
NEA’s biennial publication on Characteristics of Large Public Education Pension Plans (See
Additional resources on social security privatization (See
In addition, the NEA Collective Bargaining & Member Advocacy Department, in conjunction with the NEA Government Relations Department, will provide additional resources, training, and technical assistance upon request to assist affiliates in defeating these efforts to destroy our members’ retirement security. Please contact Bill Raabe, Director of Collective Bargaining & Member Advocacy at 202-822-7169 or or Carolyn York, Manager of Collective Bargaining & Compensation, at 202-822-7423 for assistance.

cc: Bill Raabe
Diane Shust
Carolyn York

Randy Moody
Nancy McKenzie
Al Campos
Carrie Lewis



Education week
Published: January 6, 2005
Salary Adjustments

Some experts wonder if the traditional teacher-pay system is the right fit for the rising demands of today’s schools.

By Melissa McCabe

In the 2001-02 school year, almost 40 percent of all education expenditures were devoted to teachers, or over $132 billion, according to the American Federation of Teachers.

See Also

Return to the main story, “Making Every Dollar Count.”

Most of that money was paid out using traditional single-salary compensation schedules, a system that typically pays the same salary to all teachers with the same level of education and number of years in the classroom. But as expectations for student performance rise, experts wonder if that system still makes sense—either to attract talented people into the profession or to recognize teachers who actually improve student learning.

“Static steps and lanes won’t entice Generation Y and ‘echo boomers’ into the classroom,” says Chas Anderson, Minnesota’s assistant education commissioner for finance and administration.
Similarly, a report by the Committee for Economic Development, released in February 2004, argues that the single-salary schedule should be replaced with a less rigid compensation system that would “align pay with the realities of the teacher labor market.” The report by the Washington-based group, which represents top business leaders, also calls for tying teacher pay to student outcomes.

See Also

See the accompanying item, “Chart: Performance-Pay Pioneers.”

States are making some changes.

The Education Week Research Center’s survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that in the 2004-05 school year, 26 states are offering incentives—such as bonuses, education aid, or housing assistance—to attract people to such hard-to-staff subjects as mathematics. Fourteen states have such incentives for teachers who agree to work in high-poverty or low-performing schools.

Six states have launched their own pay-for-performance systems that compensate teachers for demonstrating specific knowledge and skills in the classroom. Of those six states, four also have programs that reward teachers based on their students’ achievements. But most pay-for-performance efforts are in their infancy, are hampered by budget constraints, or involve few schools and districts.

John I. Wilson, the executive director of the National Education Association, defends the single-salary schedule, saying it “has been around a long time because it’s a tried and true measure. Teachers understand the better educated you are, the better your practices should be, and the better your student test scores should be.”
He adds that a student’s ability to score well on a test cannot be placed at the feet of one teacher because too many other factors shape student performance.

Two Types of Performance Pay 

Supporters of pay-for-performance policies believe that when they are done well, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Allan Odden, a professor of educational administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, believes compensation systems that reward teachers based on classroom performance can improve instructional practice, which in turn produces higher levels of student learning.

Education Week
 found that six states—Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and New Mexico—have performance-pay systems that reward teachers for demonstrating specific knowledge and skills.
New Mexico, for example, has a new three-tiered licensure system in which teachers are observed in the classroom and must complete professional-development dossiers. External reviewers score the dossiers. Satisfactory scores allow the teachers to advance to the next licensure tier and receive higher pay.

Minnesota provides money to districts that have developed state-approved plans for alternative teacher-compensation systems that encourage teachers’ ongoing improvement in the use of best practices.

Supporters of pay-for-performance policies believe that when they are done well, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Other pay-for-performance models reward teachers or schools whose students have shown improved academic growth, a method that Odden claims clarifies the most important objectives and goals for everybody in the system.

But Education Week found that only five states have pay-for-performance plans that link teacher pay to student outcomes. They are Arizona, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and North Carolina. North Carolina gives financial incentives to whole schools that meet or exceed projected student academic growth. The state awards $1,500 to each teacher in a school that reaches “exemplary” status under the state accountability system, and $750 to each teacher in a school that meets expected growth. The state has budgeted more than $1 million for the awards this school year.

Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and South Carolina are working with the Milken Family Foundation’s Teacher Advancement Program, or TAP. The program rewards teachers both for acquired knowledge and skills and growth in student achievement, as part of a more comprehensive career-development plan.

Lowell Milken, the chairman and co-founder of the Milken Family Foundation, in Santa Monica, Calif., stresses that the pay-for-performance element of TAP would be ineffective without the other components, such as access to continuing professional development.

A study that compared TAP schools in Arizona and South Carolina with nonparticipating schools found the TAP schools outperformed the control schools about 70 percent of the time on test scores.

Budget Woes 

In a number of states, finding money to sustain or even launch pay-for-performance programs has proved difficult. Oklahoma has had an incentive-pay program on the books since 1990. But a lack of state funds has prevented districts whose plans were approved from carrying them out.
On paper, Iowa’s Career Path Program has four career levels, from a beginning to an advanced teacher. The state has specified skills that teachers must master and demonstrate through performance evaluations before they can climb to the next level.

Because of budget constraints, however, the state has put only the first two levels in place.
Brad Jupp, a representative of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and a teacher-coordinator for the Denver Professional Compensation System, or ProComp, cautions that pay-for-performance programs fall apart if they are not funded in advance. Jupp adds that teacher mistrust and skepticism are valid when such programs rely on unstable financing or on business communities and philanthropists for funding.
“That’s why Denver tried to establish a sustainable revenue source based on a property-tax increase,” he says.

Vol. 24, Issue 17, Pages 24-25

State support for K-12 education  continued to fall in 2005   June 26, 2007

State support for K-12 education — in inflation-adjusted, per-pupil terms — continued to fall in 2005, over two years after state revenues began to rebound from the 2001-02 recession. Increases in financial support from the federal and local governments cushioned school budgets from the full effects of cuts in state funding. But in states that have traditionally spent the least on K-12 education per pupil, these other sources were not sufficient to prevent overall education funding from dropping.

These findings are described in a new report by Suho Bae and Thomas Gais of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. The report is the third in a series of Institute reports on recent developments in state fiscal systems. Previous reports examined state social welfare spending and state-level tax and expenditure limitations.

New Study Provides State-level Information About Changes in K-12 Revenues between 2002 and 2005

July 12, 2007  In a new report, Suho Bae and Thomas Gais provide state-level information about changes in K-12 revenues between 2002 and 2005. Their analysis finds that state governments’ funding of education fell in three out of four states since the last recession, after adjusting for inflation and enrollment. By contrast, local funding of education increased in three out of five states, while federal funding grew in all states. The report also notes that states varied greatly in their fiscal experiences.  States that had previously spent more than the national average on K-12 typically maintained or increased their revenues after 2002, while most of the states that had spent less than the national average saw declines in state revenues and overall spending.

This report is a follow-up to a recent analysis of state and local spending on K-12 education. That report, also written by Bae and Gais, examined general trends and variations in state and local support for K-12 education since 1977. It found that state education spending — in inflation-adjusted, per-pupil terms — continued to fall in 2005, over two years after state revenues began to rebound from the 2001-02 recession. Increases in financial support from the federal and local governments cushioned school budgets from the full effects of cuts in state funding. But in states that have traditionally spent the least on K-12 education per pupil, these other sources were not sufficient to prevent overall education funding from dropping.