The visible hand in economics

The Teachers union should sit in on some 5th form economics classes

Posted on: August 29, 2007

So teachers want a pay rise.  This isn’t really surprising given the inflationary pressure in the economy.  Now I don’t know too much about teachers pay, but I did find it interesting that the teachers union is saying that teachers wages should increase by 7.5%, and that this would reduce the average size of the classroom.

We know why teachers are saying this, they want parents and students to support them, so they have to make it sound like it is in their interest.  However, this isn’t the way I understand the situation.  If teachers pay is increased, and the government does not completely fund it, then less teachers will be hired.  With less teachers and the same number of students, schools will ended up with more students per class.

One possible counter-argument is that we have a skill shortage for secondary school teachers, and as a result by increasing wages we can get more teachers into jobs.  This presumes that schools have the resources to hire more teachers, at a higher wage, which would imply that we have a shortage of secondary school teachers.  But we don’t.  We are on the border of having a shortage of teachers, schools can find the number of teachers they need, but it does take time (average fill rate for secondary teaching jobs is 70%).

As I doubt the government will be stump up all the cash for a 7.5% jump in teachers wages (there are other groups they have to bribe first and foremost), schools will be stuck trying to come up with more money to pay teachers.  Fewer teachers will be hired and class sizes will rise.

Advertisements

2 Responses to "The Teachers union should sit in on some 5th form economics classes"

My information is a bit out of date but I think most people would still be surprised how much a teacher earns. The starting wage is very attractive, especially considering the low bar that is in place to qualify as a teacher.

Fixing the teacher shortage is a good argument for a wage increase. Not because it has merit but because few people will ask how increasing the salary a teacher with 20 years experience will cause young people (who cant even imagine being 30…. eww!) to take up the ‘profession’.

They will agree that to fix the starting wage 7.5% higher will attract more people to teaching and will simply ignore that this also means a teacher earning $85k a year will get an extra $4k.

Further, teacher pay is on a 9 month, rather than a 12 month, contract. When folks say that teachers are underpaid, they should simply measures what other professionals make in 9 months with teachers pay for 9 months – it is not great, but it certainly is not bad.

I agree with your post, though. I can’t figure any way whereby the mentioned union’s claim makes sense: the more it costs to hire one person, the fewer people will be hired. This is how it works in every single industry with which I am familiar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Add to Google
%d bloggers like this: