No, American teachers don't get paid too much, by @DavidOAtkins

No, American teachers don't get paid too much

by David Atkins

As the Chicago Teachers Union strike heats up (and Paul Ryan finds common cause with Rahm Emanuel), it's worth remembering that American teachers get paid much less than in most other industrialized countries, when accounting for the salaries of college educated workers. Catherine Rampel at the Times' Economix blog has the details:

The United States spends a lot of money on education; including both public and private spending, America spends 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on all levels of education combined. That’s above the average for the O.E.C.D., where the share is 6.2 percent.

The annual spending per student by educational institutions of all levels is also higher in the United States than it is in any other developed country.

Despite the considerable amount of money channeled into education here, teaching jobs in the United States are not as well paid as they are abroad, at least when you consider the other opportunities available to teachers in each country.

In most rich countries, teachers earn less, on average, than other workers who have college degrees. But the gap is much wider in the United States than in most of the rest of the developed world.
We do have a problem in the U.S. with education: it's income inequality. American schools in affluent areas are on par with other countries. Schools in middle-class and poorer areas are not. Whatever the shortfalls in our education system, they're not the fault of teachers or teachers' unions. Teachers' unions are the only thing keeping the pay of American teachers from hitting rock bottom compared to other countries, thus worsening the situation both from an educational point of view and from an economic one.

We don't have an education crisis in this country. We have an income inequality problem.