February 19, 2007




Federal agency explicitly warned against methods used to analyze data


Contact: Teri Battaglieri (517) 203-2940 (e-mail)

                Sean Corcoran (212) 992-9468


EAST LANSING, Mich.—A new Manhattan Institute report uses false and misleading calculations to erroneously assert that teachers are better paid than a vast majority of white collar and professional workers.


The report, How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?, by Jay Greene and Marcus Winters, uses hourly earnings data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to compare public school teachers’ pay with that of other white collar professionals despite the fact that the BLS has explicitly advised users not to use hourly rates of pay in this context.


The report was reviewed for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project by economists Sean Corcoran of New York University and Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute.


The BLS National Compensation Survey (NCS) uses surveys to assemble information on the average hourly pay for various professions. Greene and Winters uncritically compare the reported hourly pay for various professions and find, for example, that teachers’ hourly pay in 2005 was 36% more than that of the average white collar worker. They also assert that teachers work fewer hours than other white collar workers. They then put forward an analysis that finds no correlation between their measure of teacher pay and student achievement.


The BLS clearly warns against using the NCS data in this context because the data doesn’t adequately reflect differences in paid or unpaid time off among various professions. Certain professions have paid time off included in their “hours worked” data, which artificially lowers their calculated hourly wage. Teachers do not, which artificially raises their pay in comparison to these other professions.


Furthermore, Mishel and Corcoran write, Greene and Marcus understate the actual number of hours teachers work, further inflating their hourly wage.


 “In the end,” the reviewers write, “Greene and Winters rely on a fundamentally flawed measure of relative teacher compensation, and this defect in their study prevents any usefulness. It can add little if anything to the public discussion of teacher pay and school policy.”


Find the complete review by Sean Corcoran and Lawrence Mishel as well as a link to the Manhattan Institute report on the web at:


About Think Twice

The Think Twice project provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected think tank publications. It is a collaboration of the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is funded by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.


Kevin Welner, the project co-director and editor, explains that the project is needed because “despite their garnering of media attention and their influence with many policy makers, reports released by private think tanks can be of very poor quality. We don’t consider our reviews to be the final word, nor is our goal to stop think tanks’ contributions to a public dialogue. That dialogue is, in fact, what we value the most. The best ideas come about through rigorous critique and debate.”


The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to identify, develop, support, publish and widely disseminate empirically sound research on education policy and practices designed to improve the quality of public education for all students within the Great Lakes Region. 

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