Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 23
Teacher Pay Isn't
The Whole Story
By Rebecca Kolins Givan
& Pamela Whitefield
to witness the "invisible gorilla" upon first viewing immediately saw it the second time around. They usually expressed
disbelief that they initially missed it. Once confronted with
the truth, the viewers could no longer ignore the reality
right before their eyes.
Leaders in education reform and the researchers at NCES
have both the capacity and the responsibility to elevate
family structure as a critical prism through which we evaluate our country's educational progress, on par with race,
class, and other key groupings.
Education reformers and policymakers have already
begun the handwringing about 2017 NAEP disparities between race, class, and gender. Yet the inattentional blindness ignores a force at least as fundamental to human development. 2020 could be an opportunity for a new baseline
to measure progress by the critical indicator of family structure, which has been hidden in plain sight for decades.
If we really want to cure our blindness and understand
why our children are not making the progress we seek, we
must make this essential and predictive measure invisible
no longer. n
It will take real
courage from the
Statistics to lift
this data from
IAN ROWE is a senior visiting fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham
Institute, in Washington.
grounding in things like logic than making
sure they can do integrals. Math also has
huge applications in a lot of vocational skills.
Maybe it makes sense to give students more
opportunities to gain expertise and the
chance to innovate in more career-oriented
areas, at an earlier age.
of a national joke. We need to change that
attitude, and that begins in schools. One
example includes emphasizing the fact
that math is not all about worksheets and
tests-any more than history is about dates
or English is about grammar. Those things
are important, but as a means to an end.
For the past decade, we've been hearing
quite a few concerns about gaps in our
STEM workforce, both real and projected.
Do you think there's a disconnect between
how we teach math in school and the
demands the job market will place on
students when they finish school?
Finally, as someone who has forged a
career in both professional sports and
the study of high-level mathematics, is
there anything you think is missing from
our national conversations about STEM
I do think that education could be more
connected to career paths. That's why I
really like the "STEM Behind Cool Careers"
[program]. It shows students that whatever
they are into, whether it's fashion design or
flying, STEM is in it, too.
But there is also a larger dynamic worth
considering: We may think that it's OK to
be bad at or hate math. In fact, it's kind
The more exposure students have to STEM,
the better. But even as we talk about how
practical and relevant math is, we should
also remember that it can be like a game-
and fun. There is an element of competition
to STEM subjects-even if the person
you're competing against is yourself. n
tagnating wages and
costs are pushing America's public school employees to their breaking
point. After the recent
strike in West Virginia,
teachers in Kentucky
and Oklahoma staged their own
walkouts this month. Now, Arizona
educators skeptical of their governor's
conciliatory pledge to hike wages are
considering similar protests.
Why is this happening? And why now?
The teacher pay penalty is part of
the problem. While low wages in this
female-dominated profession are not a
new phenomenon, the earnings gap between teachers and other workers with
the same level of education has grown
significantly wider. According to data
analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute, public school teachers' weekly
wages were 17 percent lower than the
wages of comparable workers in 2015.
The gap was under 2 percent in 1994.
But wages are only part of the compensation story.
Many teachers enter the profession
with a tacit (and sometimes explicit)
agreement to accept a lower salary
in exchange for better benefits, particularly affordable health care. The
proportion of the salary-benefit split
varies, but it is generally greater for
educators than for other professionals. In analyzing Bureau of Labor
Statistics data, the Economic Policy
Institute also found that teachers-
both public and private-received
11.2 percent of their compensation
in the form of insurance benefits in
2015. For other comparable professionals, that number was 8.7 percent-not nearly a great enough
difference to offset the growing compensation gap for teachers.
This agreement to trade higher
wages for more expansive benefits has
clearly eroded. Health insurance premiums, particularly for family plans,
are soaring. Some teachers have reported paying more than a thousand
dollars a month to insure themselves
and their families. The average premium for a family plan is now more
than $7,000 per year for teachers.
That's roughly $1,200 more than
other state and local employees pay.
Our recent survey of educators in
Vermont revealed the scope of this
financial strain. Although Vermont
boasts a high-quality K-12 education
system, its teachers are struggling
with flat wages and rising health
insurance premiums, deductibles,
prescription costs, and other out-ofpocket expenses. Among the roughly
1,000 respondents, more than half of
Vermont's educators told us they are
working additional jobs-on weekends, during the summer, or both-to
make ends meet.
When we take away
insurance and do not
salary, the profession
loses its appeal."
The social contract is broken. When
we take away affordable health insurance and do not rebalance total compensation through salary, the profession loses its appeal. Teachers may
be lured to higher-paying states or
marginally better-paying jobs, which
require fewer unpaid hours and for
which they do not have to spend their
own money on supplies.
The result, as we have seen in West
Virginia and now in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Arizona, is overcrowded
classrooms, a lack of certified teachers,
and the decline of public education.
This could be only the beginning. n
REBECCA KOLINS GIVAN is an associate
professor in the School of Management
and Labor Relations at Rutgers, The
State University of New Jersey. PAMELA
WHITEFIELD is a fellow at the university's
Center for Innovation in Worker Organization.
They are the authors of the recent report
"Women's Work? Voices of Vermont
The interview has been edited for length and
It's important for teachers to express their own love of the
subject, not just to accept that math is like eating vegetables."
EDUCATION WEEK | April 25, 2018 | www.edweek.org | 23
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - April 25, 2018
Education Week - April 25, 2018
Facing Hard Facts on College and Career
School Choice Proves Scarce in ESSA Plans
After a Shooting in Her Classroom, Teacher Re-evaluates School Safety
Pension Woes Have Teachers On Front Lines
News in Brief
Discipline Gaps—and Ways to Close Them —Get Scrutiny
Parents Lash Out at District Over Shooting
Arizona Teachers Set to Strike Over School Funding and Pay
Schools With Confederate Ties Slowly Shed Their Names
U.S. Students Surprise on New Exam Of Online Reading
NAEP: Gaps Widen Between High Fliers And Low Scorers
Ed. Dept. Policing ESSA Assessment Rule On Special Education
Federal Special Ed. Chief Aims to Foster Partnership
School Shootings Reverberate On Capitol Hill
Ian Rowe: What NAEP Scores Aren’t Telling Us
In Conversation John Urschel: From the NFL to MIT
Rebecca Kolins Givan & Pamela Whitefield: Teacher Pay Isn’t the Whole Story
Thomas Toch: 35 Years After ‘A Nation at Risk,’ Education Is Still Going in the Wrong Direction
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Pension Woes Have Teachers On Front Lines
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 2
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Contents
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Report Roundup
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 5
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Discipline Gaps—and Ways to Close Them —Get Scrutiny
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Arizona Teachers Set to Strike Over School Funding and Pay
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Schools With Confederate Ties Slowly Shed Their Names
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 9
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 10
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 11
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - U.S. Students Surprise on New Exam Of Online Reading
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - NAEP: Gaps Widen Between High Fliers And Low Scorers
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 14
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 15
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 16
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Federal Special Ed. Chief Aims to Foster Partnership
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - School Shootings Reverberate On Capitol Hill
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 19
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 20
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 21
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - In Conversation John Urschel: From the NFL to MIT
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Rebecca Kolins Givan & Pamela Whitefield: Teacher Pay Isn’t the Whole Story
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 24
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 25
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 26
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - 27
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - Letters
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW1
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW2
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW3
Education Week - April 25, 2018 - CW4