The excellent New Jersey Education Aid provides facts and data (here)that expose gaps in Mark Weber, Ph.D.’s (a.k.a., Jersey Jazzman) latest report for New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) (here) on a shortage of teacher candidates in NJ. In other words, NJ Education Aid does what Weber does not do: provides sound, evidence-based research that supports the conclusions.
NJ Education Aid also cites SPCNJ’s critique (here) of Weber’s previous piece for NJPP on a supposed pay gap for NJ teachers (here) and takes on that issue as well. SPCNJ showed that Weber’s research on a pay gap was deeply flawed and did not support his conclusions about a pay gap. In fact, sources Weber, himself, cites actually undermine his argument, showing that NJ teachers actually have a pay advantage over private sector workers.
So it is not a surprise that Weber has again produced substandard research for NJPP. As NJ Education Aid states, Weber’s research is “incomplete in important ways.”
First, NJ Education Aid finds Weber’s contention that NJ teachers are underpaid “dubious.” NJ Education Aid provides data that shows that NJ is among the top three states in per-pupil spending and also #2 or #3 in the percentage of GDP devoted to education spending. NJ is also ranked #1 or #2 by WalletHub as the best state to be a teacher. Moreover, NJ Education Aid shows that given its budgetary condition, it is unlikely that NJ can raise teachers’ salaries by a meaningful amount.
As for a shortage of teacher candidates, NJ Education Aid points out inconvenient facts that Weber simply ignores, such as the fact that NJ does not have a teacher candidate shortage so much as a shortage of teacher candidates who want to teach science and math or in lower income areas. There is in fact a glut of elementary school teacher candidates. It turns out that 7,000 new teachers receive a teacher certificate but only 4,000 cane hired because of this mismatch in supply and demand.
In addition, NJ Education Aid provides data that show that NJ’s rigid compensation structure greatly benefits long-serving teachers to the detriment of shorter-serving teachers. Pension benefits do not vest until a teacher has served 10 years, and retiree health benefits until 25 years, but 45% of teachers leave the profession before 10 years, and another 41% leave before 25 years. Salary increases also jump substantially after 10 years (up 16%) versus after 5 years (up 9%). Salaries jump even more after 15 years (up 18%) and another 11% after 20 years service. For today’s young adults, who seek mobility in their careers, NJ’s teacher pay structure might not be very attractive.
NJ Education Aid provides facts and data that Weber simply ignores because they do not suit the narrative Weber wants to push. That narrative is the one favored by his and NJPP’s mutual patron, the NJEA.
Thanks to NJ Education Aid for providing real, evidence-based research that counters the non-evidence-based narrative of Mark Weber and NJPP.