Monday, December 12, 2011

Burlington Educators Attacked with Flawed Logic

Philip Ketterhagen must think the readers of the Standard Press are fools and wouldn't see through the apples to oranges analysis of Burlington Area School District (BASD) compensation he included in his letter to the editor last week. Ketterhagen's focus is on money alone as he states that "the BASD staff is in the elite percentile of income." True, but what he leaves out, is that the BASD staff is in an even more elite percentile for educational attainment. Philip says he's a college graduate so I'm going to assume the statistics he quotes are accurate. The way he uses them however, is deceptive and inappropriate as demonstrated below using 2010 census data for education level obtained here: and here: for adults 25 years and older.

For his analysis, Mr. Ketterhagen states that he used numbers from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal for the top 128 BASD employees in terms of compensation, skewing his sample right off the bat. He then goes on to compare BASD employee compensation to the of average income for Wisconsin citizens. Now the average income includes people who hold down jobs stocking shelves or driving a delivery van, for example. These jobs are critical to the functioning of our economy and the people who do them deserve our respect, a family supporting wage, family healthcare and a decent retirement, but they're not qualified to educate America's children and naturally they're not compensated as well as those who are and rightly so.

Ketterhagen stated that BASD administrator salaries are in the 76th percentile nationally and in the 86th percentile when benefits are considered, implying that they are over compensated. But BASD administrators have a minimum of a masters degree, putting them in the 92nd percentile for educational attainment nationally (92nd for Wisconsin). They are more likely to have a professional or doctoral degree, both in the 99th percentile nationally! These are management positions where people are responsible for million dollar budgets and hundreds of employees, corresponding to the highest paid jobs in the private sector. People in the 92-99 percentile for their education that are compensated in the 86th percentile nationally are clearly NOT over paid!

Then there are the teachers. First of all it should be recognized that all teachers have continuing education requirements and must obtain a teaching certificate which is an additional requirement beyond a bachelors degree that is not reflected separately in the census data for educational attainment. All of the teachers have minimum of a bachelors degree, which puts them in the 81st percentile nationally and the 74th percentile for citizens of Wisconsin. Fifty-two percent of Wisconsin teachers also have a masters degrees, which places those individuals in the 93rd percentile nationally and the 92nd percentile for Wisconsinites. Assuming the 52% also applies to BASD and aggregating these numbers for teachers with bachelors and masters degrees we come up with a teaching staff at BASD with average educational attainment levels that fall in the 86th percentile nationally and 83rd percentile for our once fair state. And where do the teachers fall in terms of compensation? According to Ketterhagen, the Wall Street Journal says they average in the 68th percentile nationally for pay and the 83rd percentile with benefits included, which they negotiated for in good faith. So BASD teachers are in the 86th percentile nationally for the level of education achieved, but they're compensation falls in the 83rd percentile.

What is Ketterhagen complaining about, why the need for flawed apples to oranges analysis and why his relentless and baseless attack on our educators?

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