Matt Damon is not a genius. He just plays one in the movies.
At last week’s “Save Our Teachers” rally in Washington (“save them” from what — the private sector?) Damon announced that incentives — like bonuses for good performance or ending tenure for bad ones — don’t work for teachers.
“You think job insecurity makes people work hard?” he asked a reporter from Reason magazine incredulously. “That’s like saying a teacher is going to get lazy when she has tenure.”
“A teacher wants to teach,” Damon insisted. “Why else would you take a sh*@#y salary and really long hours and do that job unless you really loved to do it?”
Sorry, Matt, but if I were your math teacher back at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, I’d have to give you an F. Wrong on theory and fact.
First the data — starting with Matt’s myth that teachers work for a shi— . . . er, “less-than-adequate” salary.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the average Boston teacher earned around $80,000 last year. That was the average. And that doesn’t include the generous health care or pension benefits, which would equal $100,000 in the private sector. All for just 180 days of work.
Nationally, the average teacher salary is significantly lower — $53,000. But a teacher still earns more by herself (and about 75 percent of K-12 teachers are women) than the household income of the average American family. Once again, with summers and holidays off.
That fact is important because when you break down what teachers earn per hour, the average teacher is better paid ($30.52) than the average computer programmer ($21.27) or architect ($27.71).
So Damon is wrong on the numbers. And his theory is even worse. Modern economic theory is based on the premise of incentives. Damon’s position that incentives don’t affect behavior puts him in the fiscal Flat Earth Society. He’s the equivalent of an economic creationist.
Of course people work harder if they believe it will pay off. Naturally people slack off otherwise.
Nobody denies this is true of cabbies, car salesmen or newspaper columnists — why wouldn’t it be true of teachers?
Oh, that’s right: “Teachers want to teach.” They’re above worldly concerns like pay and job security. Which some teachers are.
But isn’t it likely that others have more materialistic motivations? Like the fact that it’s a great way for underachievers to prosper?
“Slackers wanting to earn the country’s easiest college major, should major in education,” reports Lynn O’Shaughnessy of CBS’s Moneywatch. “It’s easy to get ‘A’s’ if you’re an education major.”
According to the Indeed job search website, the average salary for teaching positions currently listed in Boston, MA is $64,000 per year.
The average of currently listed openings is slightly above the current average salary of all Massachusetts teachers, which is $68,000.
The $80,000 figure represents gross salary plus the value of all benefits, including the employer’s contributions to Social Security, health insurance, paid days off, 401K/403B plans, etc.
The $68,000 average is third highest for teachers in the nation; 23% more than the national average. If you’re a teacher, Boston seems like a good place to work.
However, you’ve also got to take Boston’s high cost of living into consideration, which is 61.6% higher than the national average. The median price of a home in Boston is $425, 300.
All things considered, Matt Damon knows what he’s talking about. Nobody is getting rich working as a teacher in Boston.
Michael Graham is doing them a disservice suggesting otherwise. But what would anyone expect from a right-wing radio blowhard? Criticizing teachers is part of the pattern.
@Greg: Lets get this out of the way first- Matt
damon, like most of Hollywood elites, doesn’t know sh*& from shinola- AND it should be noted that throughout history, leaders and kings who actually took a court jester’s advice usually ended up with their head on a platter, along with the jester’s, because make no mistake, that IS exactly what Damon, Affleck and others are, and nothing more.
Sure, nobody’s getting rich in Boston being a teacher, but they are paid damn good, especially if you consider some of the other work in this world.
I know, because I am a woodworker and furniture builder, but I have not seen $80,000 in total salary and benefits (and you have to count the bennies- they are a substantial part of the package).
And if you are truthful, you would have to concede that, while there ARE good teachers, there are many who suck and if not for the protection of unions and tenure, would not make it for long. Tenure DOES have a way of making some people inordinately lazy.
Greg- here’s a piece of advice- just because Damon makes sense when he recites lines in a movie doesn’t mean that he can or does do the same in real life. There, he is talking off-script, and that doesn’t work well for him.
The fact that Damon is a public figure doesn’t make him an authority, but he has the same right to publicly express his opinion as any other American.
What makes Michael Graham’s opinion any more or less relevant and authoritative than Damon’s? An actor or a talk radio entertainer; it seem like pretty much the same difference.
Damon has every right to issue an opinion on anything he wishes. And people, whoever they are, have a right to call him out on his idiocy. The fact that you buy into the rhetoric is quite beside the point, and not surprising to conservatives here.
As an aside, the average teacher in the country works only 9 months out of the year, so, extrapolating the data, those teachers make a salary commensurate with those making $91k over 12 months. What they do with their time during the summer is of no matter, since they get paid for actual time on the job.
No, they certainly won’t get rich by being a teacher. However, they have something that the vast majority of workers in the country do not have. Job security.