Monday, October 03, 2011

Slashing or Satiating?

The next time you hear about underfunding public education or the things that could be accomplished if we just spent more, keep this chart in mind.

H/T: Mark Perry. Perry quotes from former Viking and Giant quarterback Fran Tarkenton's article contrasting the NFL and teachers' unions in today's Wall Street Journal.

Tarkenton was one of the most exciting players of his day.

14 comments:

George Mitchell said...

The chart reveals data that almost never appear in the mainstream press. What does appear regularly are stories about "cuts in spending." A survey by scholars at Harvard finds that the public is ignorant regarding K-12 spending and generally of the view that "more" is needed.

John Foust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Foust said...

Nothing like a good football analogy to get the blood pumping for the middle-aged white business man.

Such a simplistic chart. "Reveals data"? Like what, George? This might be an interesting discussion if we took the intellectual approach and tried to think one or two layers deeper. How might we explain what we see? What sorts of costs or savings went up or down over that period?

Or we can just keep bonking our heads together until we want more watery pilsner.

Anonymous said...

Love both the Tarkenton op-ed and video.

Anonymous said...

Well, now, that's an interesting statistic. A former NFL player pointing out how costs per student at public schools have more than doubled, from just under $5K per pupil to over $11K, since 1970. It's all the fault of the unions, of course. (Tarkenton must be talking about Mequon-Homestead and its ilk; there are plenty of school districts in this country where costs per student are still around $5K -- Mississippi, for example -- though you wouldn't want to send your kid there.)

What Tarkenton neglects to mention is that, since 1970, when the Players Association was recognized, the average pay of an NFL player has risen from $23,000 a year to $1.9 million (not adjusted for inflation). That's more than doubling or trebling. Terry Bradshaw made about $400K at his best. Today Peyton Manning brings home about $30 million, about half of which is endorsement income.

I guess those teachers sure are overcompensated. Back in the day, though, they could afford to buy tickets to NFL games.

Anonymous said...

Heck, teachers could buy Superbowl tickets in 1970. They cost $15 then.

George Mitchell said...

Anon 12:18.

It is, indeed, mostly explained by the impact of collective bargaining. A disproportionate share of the much higher per pupil costs is attributable to: 1) retirement benefits; 2) health insurance; and 3) growth in hiring that exceeded enrollment growth.

Does that mean it is the "fault" of the unions? To some, yes. To others, no. But the facts are clear: it is because of the unions.

Foust apparently can't interpret the chart and needs to know what it reveals. Figures.

Anonymous said...

People voluntarily pay the vast amounts of $ that goes into NFL players' pockets. The analogy to public schools would be where the government forced taxpayers to buy tickets to watch the UFL.

Anonymous said...

In 1970, average teacher pay was $9729, just under a third of the average pay of an NFL player. In 2009, average teacher pay, in Wisconsin, was $48,267 -- approximately half of one percent of the average pay of an NFL player. Despite the increased dollar amounts we're throwing at education, test scores aren't rising. Do you think it might be, in part, because the best and brightest aren't attracted to teaching?

Obviously few who might become teachers also have the option of becoming professional football players. But bright young people do have other options. Today law schools and medical schools are roughly half female. That was simply not the case in 1970. Smart women have more options available to them than they did forty years ago.

Teachers' unions are partially to blame for this, as Tarkenton points out, by negotiating collective bargaining agreements that are lockstep rather than based on results. In their defense, this was intended as a protection against the favoritism of principals. Measuring results in the classroom is a lot more subjective than measuring results on the football field.

As for the point raised by Anon. 1:07, yes, we choose to pay for football, but we also choose to pay for education. I suspect if you compared the comp packages at Marquette High or the University School, they would not look that dissimilar to public school pay.

And, in the long run, if we choose to pay that much more for football than we do for education, it'll be reflected in what we become as a nation. We'll lag behind other nations in educational achievement.

But we'll play really good sports.

Rick Esenberg said...

Teachers can't afford to go to NFL games? I guess someone was impersonating my sister and brother-in-law when I last saw them there. Sure fooled me.

George Mitchell said...

In each of the last three years of summer sailing on the Great Lakes I have admired classy boats at various marinas. On several occasions, in conversing with owners, I have met folks on summer break who are getting ready to head back to their role as public school teachers.

who-knew said...

Forget the teachers, you're liberal readers will never concede that any amount spent on schools or teachers is too much. Let's tslk about Fran Tarkenton. Loved the highlights if not the music. That was amazing. You have to appreciate that, even if he was a Viking!

who-knew said...

Please forgive the spelling in my comment above. I plead a public school education (I barely passed typing class).

Anonymous said...

We will also forgive your punctuation, who-knew ("you're liberal readers"). Back when you went to school, public school teachers were undoubtedly underpaid. Had they been paid more, or had you been in a smaller class, maybe you would have gotten the individualized attention that might have helped.