James Guthrie writes an article, Education Reform Need Not Be Costly, which I found in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune. In it he states that the main element in improving education is a passionate teacher, and that we can improve education by improving our teacher corps without it being very expensive. He then cites a statistic that shows that spending per pupil has risen 3-fold over the last 90 years, and that a large reason for that is an increase in teacher pay over the last 50 years. Average pay for teachers since 1960, adjusted for inflation, has increased 42%.
I looked at a chart showing the average increase in income by quintiles from 1947 to 2007 (chart). The 60th percentile represents teacher salaries best; for income earners in this category, income in constant dollars increased from $40,000 in 1960 to about $70,000 in 2007, an increase of 75%.
If people in other jobs at the same salary level as teachers have seen their incomes increase 75% in 50 years and teachers only 42%, how long will it take at this rate to attract more people to teaching and improve the quality of teaching?