Matt Yglesias writes,
Brad DeLong peers back into his archives to find a years-old post with the simple title “Pay Teachers More Money” because, after all, “the best and quickest way to make teaching a more attractive profession is to pay teachers more.” I agree. That said, there are also a lot of weird barriers to entry into the teaching profession — formalistic requirements centered around getting degrees from education schools — that have little relationship to effectiveness in the classroom. It’s one thing to have basically pointless credential-based barriers to entry into a lucrative field (the third year of law school, etc.) but it’s a very harmful bottleneck for something like teaching.
Of course, these “formalistic requirements” are difficult to remove thanks to the teacher’s unions. So the case for “paying teachers more money” is heard, and teachers often are being paid more money, often more money than individuals with the same qualifications and dispositions (for a certain kind of schedule, a preference for a certain basket of benefits and for working with children) would make in the private sctor. And reforms that would reduce barriers to entry either never get a hearing or they are successfully resisted by incumbents.
The problems are interrelated. Teachers often say they deserve to be paid as much as other professionals. But the professionals they have in mind don’t generally enjoy the same protections teachers enjoy as a matter of course, including K-12 tenure.