I agree that the over-security that comes from being a teacher is a problem, but the base pay is still too low when you consider the value of that work to the rest of society.I always hear that but honestly it’s not what I see on the street level. Teachers in these parts start in the 50s & go up & over 100 depending on their level of education & time in with the district. Plus, free or nearly free healthcare both during their working years and after retirement, pensions the district contributes to, tenure which makes their job more secure than any job I’ve ever had/will ever have, and 12 weeks vacation which I’ll only get when I retire or croak, whichever comes first.
I think there was a time (before the Unions put a stranglehold on every municipality in the nation) AND the private economy offered much higher average wages than it does now along with pensions and job security that one could credibly make the argument that teachers (& other public servants) got the short end of the stick. But that was then, this is now & the pendulum has swung hard in the other direction to the point where government jobs are at least as (if not more) attractive than many of those in the private sector. We seem to keep making dated arguments about how awful teachers get paid and I just don’t see it as true anymore, at least relative to the rest of us.
Grab any group of 100 people & I bet 99 of them would say they’re underpaid and underappreciated for the amount of work they do & horseshit they deal with, teachers by no means have a monopoly on that gripe.
Keep in mind this is just my observation in this region, I'd imagine it's better or worse for some teachers elsewhere. By the way, I completely agree with the balance of your statement.
I also agree that you can't judge the right-size of pay based on what people feel is appropriate. A better model for determining pay (at least, in my opinion), is considering the value of the work itself along with how much added value you can gain from seeking top talent through offering a higher wage.
This doesn't work for every job, of course, since the economics of revenue gain will often be a bigger factor in what you can offer, but when it comes to public schools, this is all determined by budget allocated by government and not by profit margins or shareholder revenue.
But unions tangle this whole situation up substantially because a union will always act in the interest of both itself as well as the workers it represents. In some ways, this can be good, such as when they act to limit class sizes and teaching conditions that some teachers will request since that will result in better conditions for education to the students. However, it also results in unions that make it too difficult to fire under-performing teachers and too difficult to make any changes that undercut any of the power that unions have, overall.
It's sad because unions have historically been amazing for protecting workers from some obscene exploitation, but they can also be harbors for corruption that at best over-correct problems of exploitation and at worst simply end up being a burden to workers who don't want to join as well as organizations that already have good intentions.