Obama praises teachers for adding 10 cents to students’ lifetime hourly earnings

President Obama’s State of the Union speech included a statistical hat-tip to teachers unions — an estimate of the added earning potential of children who have “good” teachers. But the giant number the president cited doesn’t amount to much on a per-student basis.

“At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers,” Obama said Tuesday night.

“We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. … Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies — just to make a difference.”

With the U.S. Department of Education estimating that 25 students sit in the average American public school classroom, that “lifetime earning” comes out to $10,000 per child.

A high school graduate, at age 18, can expect to be in the workforce for 47 years, when he or she turns 65 — stretching that $10,000 benefit to $212.76 per year.

And assuming an average work-year of 2,000 hours, that $250,000 amounts to 85 cents per day, or just north of 10 cents per hour.

Teachers unions are an important and cash-flush campaign base for Obama’s November re-election effort. Their number one political issue concerns a fight against proposals to require school administrators to promote and fire teachers based on merit instead of seniority.

The average annual salary for American teachers, according to the National Education Association teachers union, was $56,069 during the most recent school year.

David is The Daily Caller’s executive editor. Follow him on Twitter