Monday, March 7, 2011

Does Governor Walker Care About Attracting the Best and Brightest? - McKinsey and Company says U.S. Teacher Pay is Too Low.

Madison's Spring Harbor Middle School

Six months ago, before Governor Walker's recent initiatives had Sconnies questioning the level of pay of teachers and other public servants, McKinsey and Company, the international management consulting company, published a report on whether the United States was falling behind other industrialized nations in attracting and retaining the best possible teachers for its K-12 systems.  The report was entitled:  Closing the Talent Gap, Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to a Career in Teaching.  One aspect that the report noted was that pay for public school teachers in the United States is too low to attract candidates from the top one-third of university graduating classes, and pay over teachers' careers does not rise as fast as that of teachers in other industrialized countries. 

Here is a chart from the Report that shows how primary teachers in industrialized countries are paid as a percentage of per capita gross domestic product at the point of starting and at fifteen years into their careers.  As you will see, starting U.S. teachers do not stack up well, and fall even farther behind teachers of most of the industrialized countries covered by the report at the fifteen year level of service.

The report also contained the following chart that showed that teachers salaries as a percentage of per capita GDP has been steadily dropping since 1970:

I wonder if Governor Walker and the GOP legislators think the demise of collective bargaining will enhance or diminish the ability of Wisconsin school districts to attract and retain high quality teachers?  Any of you educators out there want to hazard a guess?  Actually, any of you fifth graders out there want to hazard a guess?


  1. Just out of curiosity, are the number of working days/hours the same as the US in the other countries?

  2. Good Question, Catherine. I suppose it could go either ways for the comparison countries. My suspicion from living in the Far East for a while is that the school year is longer over there. Perhaps the OECD report cited in the McKinsey study will have some data. If it does, I will add a post on the issue.

  3. The school year was longer where I lived in Germany, but there were still a solid six weeks off in the summer, and there were an adequate number (slightly more?) of days off in a month the rest of the year. German teachers get paid a lot more, but they also are a lot more likely to have been hardworking students at university.
    I know that I cannot find a teaching job that will pay enough to let me get the clothing I need (even business casual), pay for gas, pay for taxes and benefits, and still make any payments on my student loans. Thank goodness I do not have to pay for childcare anymore, on top of all that.