Teachers Unions Say Each Teacher Costs Schools $100,000 But Unions Still Want MORE Money

Teresa Mull and Lennie Jarratt | Heartland Institute

It’s the holiday season, and as America’s school-aged kids and their teachers enjoy a nice vacation, our country’s teachers unions are doing what they do best: throwing a childish tantrum and demanding they get more of your hard-earned tax dollars to spoil their underperforming members.

The National Education Association (NEA) recently weighed in on the Republican tax reform legislation. Unsurprisingly, it pronounced the sky is falling on education because Republicans and the Trump administration want people to be able to keep more of their own money. NEA published a spreadsheet declaring, “Nearly 250,000 education jobs at risk if Congress eliminates state and local tax deduction.”

A closer look at the NEA numbers reveals to arrive at its numbers, NEA concludes the average educator’s job costs schools $100,000 each. One-hundred thousand dollars per teacher! Can that be correct? And if it is, how can NEA so boldly expose such a number and then shamelessly whine that it’s not enough? (RELATED: NEA Demands Free College For Teachers After Blowing $100 Million On Midterms)

According to NEA’s data, the total average cost per educator in the United States is $100,618. The state-by-state numbers, including Washington DC, show 17 states average more than $100,000, while 25 states average more than $90,000. Only one state averaged less than $70,000.

Compare these figures to what NEA claims are the states with the top-10 average teacher salaries and you will see large discrepancies that suggest NEA is telling everyone teachers are receiving far less compensation that they privately admit. Why would NEA do this? Because NEA uses salary numbers as propaganda, and six-figure salaries don’t garner much sympathy, especially when you consider public school teachers receive far more paid vacation time every year than most in the private sector could ever dream of. The next time you hear sob stories from teachers unions, remember that you, the taxpayer, are shelling out more than $100,000 for each of those educator jobs. (RELATED: NEA President Sorry For Calling Disabled Kids ‘Chronically TARDED’)

If a teacher doesn’t see $100,000 in his or her bank account every year, it’s because some of that money goes toward covering their health benefits, retirement plans, and goodness knows what else. Just because the full amount doesn’t enter the teacher’s pocket doesn’t mean it isn’t leaving yours.

The belief that public school teachers are underpaid is a myth, and it’s one that too many Americans have been duped into believing. “Respondents to the 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform estimated the 2015–16 national average salary of U.S. K–12 public school teachers to be $40,587, more than 30 percent below the real National Center for Education Statistics figure of $58,064,” a Heartland Institute news article recently reported. “Eventeachers underestimated the average teacher salary by about 20 percent.”

Further, about 61 percent of Americans in a recent EdNext survey said they support paying teachers more money—until, that is, they were told what teachers actually earn. Then the level of support dropped to 36 percent.

Unless taxpayers realize teachers unions are insatiable when it comes to their members’ own salaries and benefits, and vote accordingly, education funding, and thus taxes, will continue to increase. The teachers unions are crying wolf when it comes to how destitute our education system is, and they’re greedy enough to brazenly advertise—in a plea for more money, no less — that each government school educator only costs the rest of us $100,000.

It’s time we realized that we’re being taken advantage of by NEA and other teachers unions. We need to put our collective foot down and stop giving in to their selfish demands. Let’s remind the teachers unions that no one forced them into their careers, and if they preferred, they could possibly find a job at a private school, where, as The Atlantic reported in 2013, teachers “make way less than public school teachers.”

Teresa Mull (TMull@heartland.org) is an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute. Lennie Jarratt (Ljarratt@heartland.org) is Heartland’s project manager for education transformation.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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