Friday, September 14, 2012


I shouldn't pick on David Brooks for making this point, because pretty much every critic of the Chicago teachers' union has made it:
The Chicago school system is a classic case of a bloated, inefficient ... organization. The average Chicago teacher makes $76,000 a year in a city where the average worker makes $47,000 a year.
What's maddening about this argument is that if you said to David Brooks, "So you don't think education is particularly important," he'd say, "Oh, no -- I think it's vitally important." And yet his argument -- and the argument of everyone else who flings these numbers at you -- is that half the jobs in Chicago are more important to society than teaching. Educating our children is only of middling importance; half the jobs in existence contribute more to society's well-being, and thus should be remunerated better.

I assume that David Brooks, as a conservative, believes that the marketplace provides a reasonably accurate assessment of every job's worth to society. Should society value teaching highly? Brooks says no.


Peter Janovsky said...

The other point is that the comparison is flawed. It should be a comparison with other jobs requiring a college education.

Uncle Mike said...

I think his numbers are wrong. I've seen the average teacher in Chicago making only $52K.

Nevertheless, teachers have to have at least one college degree, plus another two years of upper university work for their credential. Comparing teacher salaries to other jobs that don't require that much education is not quite fair, eh?

Oh wait, this is David Brooks. Never mind.

(I see Peter has already made this point. Still valid.)

Victor said...


I don't know what the rules are in IL, but in NY, a public school teacher has not only a BA or BS, but a Masters Degree.

Regardless, even if only a college degree is required, then I'm sure then they're comparing a group of pretty much 100% college graduates, to a group with a far, far lesser percentage.

So, to get to that $76,000 average salary for a Chicago teacher, the salaries might range between, say, $40,000 and $90,000, to come to that number.

Another question - does that "average workers' salary nclude only "workers," and exclude people in upper management?

In other words, what is meant by "Average Worker?"

I tried to look up average (mean) vs. median salary in Chicago.

Maybe the median salary of teachers, as opposed to "average" or 'all' workers, and the median there, might reflect something of a different story than Brooks and the other supporters of privatizing education want to have told.

Define the numbers, before you throw them around.

Steve M. said...

Define the numbers, before you throw them around.

Close counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and elite punditry.

Uncle Mike said...

Addendum: Romney now claims the "middle class" starts at $200K.

So right-wing people are now complaining that teachers, making one-third of what their nominee says is the middle class income level, are over-paid?

What a farce.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Actually, what would he say to the obviously true claim that the work teachers do for society is much more valuable than what he does?

I'm sure he's making a lot more than $70 K and the man just does not deserve it.

He's no fucking value-creator!

Philo Vaihinger said...

OT for a second.

Booman is AGAIN defending repeal of popular election of the senate.

So that senators can more daringly ignore what voters actually want, or don't want, of course.

And you think I'm crazy?

Steve M. said...

Hunh? Where does he say that?

Philo Vaihinger said...

see the post and his comments in the comments chain.

this is not the first time he has deplored the 17th Amendment and urged repeal.

Steve M. said...

Wow. I never noticed that he'd fallen for that teabagger nonsense.

My theory about the teabagger embrace of legislators electing senators is that the teabaggers' paymasters (the Kochs, etc.) think it's a swell idea -- state legislative elections cost less, after all, so the politicians are more thriftily bought. So the Kochs et al. pay people to write about how it's pro-Constitution to reject the 17th Amendment, and the 'baggers fall for it. Why BooMan does, I don't know.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Bear with me, just this once.

Yastreblyansky said...

I assume that David Brooks, as a conservative, believes that the marketplace provides a reasonably accurate assessment of every job's worth to society.

The marketplace can't function right with all them gol darn unions gettin in the way. It's like when you're sacrificing to Zeus and somebody throws a stalk of broccoli on the fire--you think Zeus is going to listen to those prayers?