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Welcome to another chapter of David Brooks, Statistics Liar: Education Edition.

In today's column Brooks goes after teachers in connection with the Chicago teachers' strike. Echoing the right wing (and unfortunately anti-teacher "left"), Brooks writes:

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.
Nice, David.  Comparing salaries of college (and many post-college) education teachers with all "average workers."  And why shouldn't those greedy teachers' compensation be compared to the guy at the MacDonald's next door, or the law firm messenger?  After all, it fits the "divide and conquer" narrative so successfully exploited by, e.g., Scott Walker in neighboring Wisconsin.

However, in comparison with other college-education professions, teachers make substantially less:

The average primary-school teacher in the United States earns about 67 percent of the salary of a average college-educated worker in the United States. The comparable figure is 82 percent across the overall O.E.C.D.* For teachers in lower secondary school (roughly the years Americans would call middle school), the ratio in the United States is 69 percent, compared to 85 percent across the O.E.C.D. The average upper secondary teacher earns 72 percent of the salary for the average college-educated worker in the United States, compared to 90 percent for the overall O.E.C.D.
Not only that, but American teachers spend more hours in the classroom than all but two of the O.E.C.D. countries.  (Requiring more teacher time was an issue in the Chicago strike.)

Somehow, these "refomers" never consider that higher pay and better working conditions might attract the "teachers who make a difference" that they yearn for.

As always, once again, Brooks attempts to pull the wool over his readers eyes with a phony comparison.  

But of course, he is oh so civil.

*Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- includes 30 developed nations]

Originally posted to Upper West on Fri Sep 14, 2012 at 07:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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