Posted by: bridget | 2 August 2007

Why Not Have Illegals Do the Job that Public School Teachers Won’t Do?

During the Democratic You-Tube debate, NM Governor Bill Richardson suggested that public school teachers ought to be paid a minimum of $40,000/year.  (This is approximately as much as a civil engineer or accountant makes.)  In related news, Edwards suggested that the federal minimum wage be increased to $9.50/hour by 2012.

Oddly, these are the very people telling us that we need illegal immigrants to do our work for us, because Americans are too expensive.  Well, if illegals do the jobs that Americans won’t do, why can’t they teach public school?  Furthermore, if capitalism is good enough for public schools – presumably, if you pay people enough, they will teach in our schools – why not apply that to orange-pickers?

One of the problems that this elephant has with federally-mandated minimum wages (whether across all professions or for public school teachers), aside from its questionable roots in the Commerce Clause, is that they apply regardless of local cost of living.  Bill Richardson lives in New Mexico, where the median household income is $38,000/year.  Maryland has a median household income of $57,000/year – or 50% more than NM’s median income. Adjusting for local wages, teachers in Pennsylvania make approximately 65% more, on the average, than other workers in the state; Louisiana teachers, who make only 12% more than other Pelican State workers, have the lowest teacher salary-to-local wage ratio.

These proposals amount to an unfunded mandate – which is the exact complaint leveled against NCLB.  Will Connecticut sue a hypothetical Obamo or Richardson administration over an unfunded mandate, as state and local money should not be used to meet a federal law?

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Responses

  1. Very true.

    I also argue that raising the minimum wage will lead increased automation is some areas and a certain amount of inflation. Some businesses will fold.

    When eveything works out, nobody will be better off; the numbers will just be bigger and there will be less jobs.
    Well, maybe the government will be better off if some people get pushed into higher tax brackets.

    The good news is, more jobs for undocumented guest workers.

  2. Well darn, I wrote a three paragraph response and this stupid CoComment software lost it. I wish I could figure out how to uninstall it.

    But the thrust of my prior comments is this

    – My wife is a school teacher and finally reached $40K per yard this year (after 4 years experience).
    – Most of my wife’s coworkers aren’t planning on teaching more than 5-10 years (some much less).
    – Most of my wife’s fellow teachers (85-90%) are female, and of them quite a few have already left teaching either for marriage or their first child.
    – In addition, teacher salaries aren’t usually that large since many (if not most) teacher’s are either young women or married women whose income is a supplement to their husband’s. Of my wife’s coworkers on her grade level, only one is single (divorced) and all the rest earn their salary as a secondary income in their household. We often joke about several of her coworkers whose husbands earn significant amounts of money (one trades energy, another sells high priced cars, etc.). Those folks don’t even have kids. Ah, to have discretionary spending income.
    – If I think beyond my wife’s grade level, I can think of only one teacher who isn’t married or single.
    – There are only three male teachers in the school- out of approximately 28 teachers. So men really don’t seem to be choosing this field. Despite the enticement of education programs at colleges filled with gorgeous young co-eds :-)

  3. I’ll look for the info but the min wage is a none issue issue. It is class warfare at best blatant lies at worse. Teenagers and retirees make up th majority of the min wage earners. Min.wage earners are the smallest % earners population.
    Not to get to long winded I’m working on something re illegals and jobs. Bottomline go to a construction site,residential new preferably. I ask you is every skilled craftsman/tradesman from south of the Rio here ? I don’t think so. This is an area where skirting OSHA and taxes w/ illegals hurts the US by denying a next generation of legals learning a trade. As the unions love to say. “Good jobs at good wages.” Nice post pach. hagwe

  4. Yes, it is amazing how the market can sort so many of these things out – bureaucracy free! – if you just let it.

    Ever notice how those pushing for jobs for illegals, etc. never mean their jobs?

  5. I should actually respond….

    SST – you are correct, as always. Numbers are bigger, higher taxes, and, of course, fewer employees/fewer hours for employees at small businesses.

    Total Transformation:

    In addition, teacher salaries aren’t usually that large since many (if not most) teacher’s are either young women or married women whose income is a supplement to their husband’s. Of my wife’s coworkers on her grade level, only one is single (divorced) and all the rest earn their salary as a secondary income in their household.

    I don’t think that salary should depend on one’s gender or one’s station in life so much as the value of one’s work. :p

    But, apropos of value of work, many people teach so as to supplement their spouse’s income, or to have a job that works well as a semi-SAHM. The fact that the hours are flexible and summers are “off” (granted, there’s work to be done, but the flexibility is amazing) is the equivalent of a fair amount of cash. Many people would rather work for $35,000/year on flex time with a good pension than work for $45,000 on a really strict schedule.

    I can think of only one teacher who isn’t married or single.

    If you’re not married, and not single, what are you? Damn, that’s someone worth meeting. ;)

    In2theFray,

    Teenagers and retirees make up th majority of the min wage earners. Min.wage earners are the smallest % earners population.

    Right on. I think some 98% of minimum wage earners are under the age of 25 and their total household income is something like $50,000/year.

    There is something perverse about paying high school students $9.50/hour to scoop ice cream. I mean, really, for that money, why go to school? That’s not far off the starting salary of a prosecutor (4 years college + three years law school and top grades), public defender (ditto), or many other fields which require a college education.

    Can’t wait for the post.

    Personally, I think that Democrats want illegals in construction & agriculture jobs precisely because they are unskilled labour jobs. I was being entirely facetious about having illegals as school teachers: we all know that the people coming over illegally don’t have the qualifications.

    Neil,

    LOL! True that. :)

  6. “If you’re not married, and not single, what are you? Damn, that’s someone worth meeting.”

    Whoops. I meant to say that I can’t think of someone who isn’t either married or young (and I mean fresh out of college). As we all know worker’s who just entered the market usually don’t make much unless they have a very specialized knowledge like engineering, chemistry, etc. You know, those patriarchal, hard sciences. :-)

  7. (Snorts laughing) Yeah, because the patriarchy doesn’t take anyone’s feelings into consideration. Those evil men who invented thermodynamics! :p

  8. “There is something perverse about paying high school students $9.50/hour to scoop ice cream. I mean, really, for that money, why go to school? That’s not far off the starting salary of a prosecutor (4 years college + three years law school and top grades), public defender (ditto), or many other fields which require a college education.”

    Good point. We tried unsuccessfully to motivate our daughter to study in high school, but we were never successful. Then she got a job at a fast food place. She decided she could not make a satisfactory living that way. She started working in school, brought her grades up and went on to college.

  9. 1) I think the lack of work in the summer clearly justifies a lower salary.

    2) I also agree, as anyone must, with TT that teachers are generally not head of household wage-earners, aka, an entire family does not depend on their salary.

    3) An across the board hike seems silly. Even if teachers need 40k a year to survive in Metro DC, 40k is a very healthy salary 2 hours south of Atlanta.

    4) These pay hikes are usually justified out of the poor quality of education in many public schools. This reminds me of a story my boss told me. He was in a city council meeting in upper PA debating teacher pay raises, and generally everyone just assumed that raising wages would increase the quality of education. Then an old farmer got up who changed the tide of the meeting by saying, “If they can’t teach our kids making 25, 000 per year, what makes you think they’ll be able to teach our kids making 30,000 per year?”

  10. I came across your blog randomly. In Washington State, where I am currently getting my Masters in Teaching, there is a program called Masters + 45, which means that a person with a masters degree plus 45 credits has a base salary of $40,000 per year. What are your thoughts on that? The government has passed NCLB and it will be staying around for a while; the act requires teachers that are knowledgeable and qualified. The base pay for a bachelors is in the $20,000 per year. The state is basically urging people to get their MIT. It is not profitable for a teacher to only make $25,000 per year after 4-5 years at University because of the increasing price of postsecondary education.

    A second issue is regarding the comment “If they can’t teach our kids making 25, 000 per year, what makes you think they’ll be able to teach our kids making 30,000 per year?” Many people feel this way, however, teachers only have 5-5.5 hours a day for instructional time with these students, then subtract PE or Music. The fact is parents are becoming lazy. Teaching does not stop at the classroom door but it seems that many parents think it does allowing their kids to eat sugar and empty calories while playing the xbox and getting stupid and fat. The fact is this: PARENTS are just as responsible, if not more so, for their children’s education. If they are concerned, volunteer in the classroom and see what is going on. Work at home with your kids regarding what they are learning at school.

    No to raising the minimum wage!

  11. Bridget…….

    “This is approximately as much as a civil engineer or accountant makes”

    But much better hours and only seasonal work (not to mention job security).

    The illigals will only do the jobs American’s won’t do because they are illegals. You give them legality and emmerse them totally in the American (welfare) system and they won’t do it either. Just wait and see………..steve

  12. Catie- To be clear. I completely agree that parents are often to blame. The quote was not endorsing a holistic “blame the schools” mentality, but instead was responding to the (unfortunately) accepted assumption that raising a teacher’s salary will raise the quality of education that a 4th grader receives.

    For the most part I join in steve’s concurrence.

    An interesting aside: “They’re only taking the jobs Americans don’t want.” Is there an inherently racist assumption in this statement? Illegals certainly compete for work with low-skill American citizens who immigrated legally. It seems to mean more “They’re taking the jobs [middle-class white] Americans don’t want.” Although I have a serious disdain for playing the race card, it seems undeniable that plenty of Hispanic Americans want the jobs that illegals get.

  13. “They’re only taking the jobs Americans don’t want.” This is one of the big illegal immigration myths. They take the jobs others won’t take AT THE WAGES they are given and the treatment they endure. In Ma. when the Bianchi ICE raid wiped out the illegal work force the next couple of days saw locals chomping at the bit.Don’t buy the myth,don’t buy the race card.

  14. Parents may be becoming lazy, but I have also seen quite a few case where they are encouraged to leave education to the teachers.
    Additionally it was our education system that produced these “lazy” parents.

    If we raise teachers salaries, guess who pays for that. The poor lazy parents who have to work harder to pay more taxes and have less time to help their children.

  15. Hi Catie,

    Thanks for stopping and commenting! :)

    One of my big problems with public school teacher’s salaries is that there are NO adjustments made for being a really good teacher. The programme you are discussing sounds good and is probably about as far as any school district would go. However, a person can be highly educated and not nearly as good a teacher as someone with less education.

    I would love to see rewards for teachers who excel so as to keep them in the system, encourage talented people to become teachers, and to provide an incentive to work hard.

    I completely agree that, with the costs of college, schools should pay more. One option is to help cover student loan debt or to provide tuition reimbursement. (Law schools often do that for students who take public interest jobs.)

  16. “One of my big problems with public school teacher’s salaries is that there are NO adjustments made for being a really good teacher.”

    Or local school district offers bonuses for growth and high growth on the state’s standardized tests. The bonuses are $750 and $1500 respectively.

    The only problem. The bonuses are based on the performance of the ENTIRE school, NOT on individual teachers. Wanna know what makes it worse?! The scores are compared to the scores of students from the previous year, NOT the scores of the same students from their entry level standardized test. Does that make sense? Why not test children against themselves, not an entirely different group of kids? Why not reward individual teachers?

    Guess this is a great example of how letting the state run a system creates all kinds of bad incentives (or lack of incentives) for the employees. But hey, I can’t complain too much, we got a 5% pay raise this year. :-) Once again, not based on performance, but a general pay raise for all teachers.

  17. BTW I am reposting this- a comment I left on QoS blog.

    What, not blogging on this…

    Bush Signs Law to Widen Legal Reach for Wiretapping
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/washington/06nsa.html?ei=5065&en=4e05f95a4b60ac78&ex=1187064000&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print

    After b*tching and moaning about Bush’s wiretapping N.S.A. program the Democrats go and MAKE IT LAW! WTF?!! Seriously. You couldn’t write something this good if you tried.

  18. Hi guys,
    Here in WY teachers just received a 47% increase in pay. Public school teachers now start of making $41,000 per year. Crazy, huh?

  19. Steve,

    But much better hours and only seasonal work (not to mention job security).

    The illigals will only do the jobs American’s won’t do because they are illegals. You give them legality and emmerse them totally in the American (welfare) system and they won’t do it either. Just wait and see………..steve

    Excellent point. IMHO, the seasonal nature of teaching, job security, and benefits should count towards salary.

  20. Undereducated opinion,

    An interesting aside: “They’re only taking the jobs Americans don’t want.” Is there an inherently racist assumption in this statement?

    EXACTLY! I was being entirely facetious when I suggested that illegals teach elementary school: no one who supports amnesty or other nonsense really believes that Mexicans are coming in with education and job skills. They are not highly educated people who pick fruit for a better life; they have no skills to offer.

  21. In2theFray: are you saying that capitalism works? That Americans will do jobs if paid a living wage?

    Gotta love the racism: let’s mandate a “living wage” for Americans, but those dirty Mexicans can work for peanuts and without benefits.

    SST – good points, as always.

  22. Total Transformation:

    The only problem. The bonuses are based on the performance of the ENTIRE school, NOT on individual teachers. Wanna know what makes it worse?! The scores are compared to the scores of students from the previous year, NOT the scores of the same students from their entry level standardized test.

    Oh, for joy. So if teachers do a really, really good job in the 2007-08 school year, they will not get raises in ’08-’09 for repeating their excellent performance.

    The net effect of the school-wide raise system is to give more money to teachers who have better kids. There is a very strong correlation between school district, wealth, housing prices, and student performance. So this just ensures that the wealthy kids get higher-paid teachers, right?

    …cannot roll eyes any more…..

  23. Tammi,

    $41k in Wyoming? Can’t you support a family of 10 on that? ;)

  24. “Oh, for joy. So if teachers do a really, really good job in the 2007-08 school year, they will not get raises in ‘08-’09 for repeating their excellent performance.”

    Exactly. If one year my wife gets a bunch of great kids and they test really high (but only 2% higher than they entered the grade) she will get praised. But if the next year she gets a bunch of academically challenged kids and raises their scores by say 15% (but their scores are still below last years class) she will not get any incentive. BTW that is assuming all the teachers in the school raise their students’ scores- since the bonus is based on the scores of the ENTIRE school.

    Ridiculous.

  25. Good point, TotalT. Each class should have an average incoming score. Teachers who increase the average by more than 1.0 (1.0 being an improvement of one grade level) would get some type of bonus. So a substandard class of 3rd graders might start at 2.8 and end up at 3.9, so the teacher would have done her part.

    You could evaluate them on other criteria as well – just like we do in business!

  26. Neil,

    I like that system. Obviously, your accounting side is coming out. Now, just team up with your wife and she’ll Dewey Decimal all the kids!


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