Cost-benefit analysis may not be their strong suit but education majors may have figured out how to get the best return on their investment from college. “More than 50 years ago scholars were already noting the low grading standards in university education departments,” Jason Richwine and Andrew G. Biggs wrote in a report published by the Heritage Center for Data Analysis. “The Journal of Higher Education reported in 1960 that 32 percent of students in education courses received ‘A’ grades, compared to just 16 percent in business courses.”
“A half century later, the situation is little changed.” The report was a joint publication from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Richwine works at the Heritage Foundation while Biggs serves at AEI. “Economist Kevin Rask collected data on course grades at a Northeastern liberal arts college from 5,000 students who graduated between 2001 and 2009,” Richwine and Biggs claim. “Out of the 20 academic departments included in Rask’s data, education awarded the highest grades.”
“Although Rask’s data come from only one college, his results are consistent with a larger study of three state universities in the Midwest. Economist Corey Koedel recently analyzed grade point averages (GPAs) at Indiana University, the University of Missouri, and Miami University of Ohio,” Richwine and Biggs report.” He found that education majors had substantially higher GPAs than students majoring in the hard sciences, social sciences, or the humanities.”
“Education majors at Indiana University, for example, had an average GPA of 3.65, while math, science, and economics students averaged 2.88.” The sinecure this course of study nets you carries with it its own rewards.
Workers who switch from non-teaching jobs to teaching jobs receive a wage increase of roughly 9 percent. “Teachers who change to non-teaching jobs, on the other hand, see their wages decrease by roughly 3 percent. This is the opposite of what one would expect if teachers were underpaid,” Richwine and Biggs report.
Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that public school teachers are fighting tooth-and-nail to maintain their own unique benefits, like completely subsidized health care insurance.
“One of the more prominent battles over teacher compensation has occurred in New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie has required teachers and other public workers to increase their health care contribution from 0 percent to 1.5 percent of salary,” Richwine and Biggs report.”Reforms proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, which led to Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state to deny the legislature a quorum, reduced teachers’ benefits and limited their ability to bargain collectively.”
“Florida recently required state employees to contribute 3 percent of their salary to their pension plan, which had been funded exclusively by taxpayers. Florida teachers filed a lawsuit in response.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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