A Good Teacher Adds Nearly $500,000 a Year to USA's Gross Domestic Product

With highly effective teachers adding so much to the productivity of our country, our focus should be on hiring, training, and retaining the best and the brightest.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research indicates that a highly effective teacher adds as much as $500,000 annually to America's GDP.  For Mehlville's classroom teachers, second from the bottom in St. Louis County in pay, that's nearly an 11 to 1 return per highly effective teacher.

It would be interesting to know how many of Mehlville's 700+ teachers are considered "highly effective," but on both extremes, let's look at 1/3 as well as 100%.  If only a 3rd are highly effective, at a minimum, that's a return of $100,000,000, and that assumes the other 2/3rds add no value at all.

If 100% of our teachers were highly effective, that would mean a $350,000,000 (350 million) contribution to our country's Gross Domestic Product.  That's 3.5 times Mehlville's annual budget.  Not many industries can boast that type of contribution to our economy.

Noel Knobloch, our school district's CFO said that he estimates that 60% of our budget remains in our local economy with a multiplier effect of 2-3 times minimum.  That means that the money we invest in public education doesn't just disappear into a black hole.  To our local economy it means as much as $180,000,000 a year.  That's good to know considering that the Mehlville School District is our community's largest employer.

So, whether you are conservative with the numbers or aggressively optimistic, one thing is for sure; Mehlville's number one priority should be on hiring, training, and retaining the highest quality teachers possible.  And yes, with 500+ school districts in the state of Missouri, there is a market for highly effective teachers.  

Second from the bottom in St. Louis County in pay is not good enough for our teachers and it certainly is not putting our children first.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Peter Russo August 15, 2012 at 05:43 PM
WOW! We are now comparing "teachers" to Doctors? 1) No Doctor takes 3 month Vacations. (including that Religious Holiday time) 2) No Doctor charges every Resident a tax just because his Practice is located in Mehlville. 3) No Doctor charges every Mehlville Resident a Tax to own an automoblie. 4) No doctor retires at age 56. 5) No Doctor takes Saturday and Sunday days off. 6) No Doctor stays home from work because there is 0ne inch of snow on the ground. 7) No Doctor gets 8 hours of sleep. 8) No Doctor has only 25 patients. They have Hundreds of patients. 9) A Doctor sees more than 50 patients a DAY. Not 8 hours. 50 different illnesses. 10) Doctors work over 3,000 hours per year vs less than 1,700 teacher hours. Give me a break!!!! Shall I go on? Or do you really want to retrack your ignorant comparison of teachers to Doctors.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As far as quality of Mehlville teachers are concerned. They are paid by merit in the sense that they still have jobs at Mehlville. If the administration is doing their job, and I believe with Noble and Knost they were/are, poor teachers are evaluated out of the system. I believe the majority of Mehlville's teachers who have been in Mehlville longer than five years fall within the effective range. It's hard to say how many would be considered highly effective. Based on my personal anecdotal experience with 4 kids I would say roughly 30%.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Peter, I will largely stay out of the doctor argument, but the 1700 hours argument for teachers is false. Teachers work on average of 46 hours a week for a 52 week year...that includes vacation. If they worked to contract, then they would work 1700 hours a year; however, Mehlville's teachers do not work to contract. I will never forget when I called at 11:30 pm on a Friday evening to leave a message for my son's Kindergarten teacher to receive on Monday morning and she answered the phone in her classroom. It took me a second to get over the astonishment and then I had to verify I dialed the right number. Other than what she did every day anyway, she routinely stayed that late preparing for the following week. Your facts are just off. Besides, I see my Dr. for 6-7 minutes and get a $200 bill. Yet, as we know here, a highly-effective teacher is worth as much as a half million a year to the United States of America's GDP.
Peter Russo August 15, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Jason: You can give $100,000 salary to teachers. Charge a TUITION---Bill every Resident sending their children to classroom a tutition allocated only for Teacher salary increases. I would vote for that in a minute. I would think you would have 100% approval on that measure.
Peter Russo August 15, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Karl: Curious ? Lindbergh district Budget Revenues is $60mil. They have 6,000 students. That's $10,000 per student. How did you arrive at $8,848. Also, if Mehville total Expenses are $102,095 (per 6-30-11 report) How do you arrive at $7,436 per student
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I agree with you that you can't judge teachers based on test scores. That's basically what I said. My 30% number is completely subjective based on personal experience with the teacher. My statement that the vast majority of teachers that have been at Mehlville at least five years are ate least effective is because I know how the evaluation process works at Mehlville and know how poor teachers are evaluated out of the system. Again, it is a subjective statement based on an educated guess. Hence the problem with merit pay for teachers. Not saying I'm opposed to it. I am for it on a certain level. I also agree that teachers should be paid based on experience. If they still have a job with Mehlville year to year, they should be paid a minimum rate. Merit pay would be bonus based and similar to what they do in Tennessee. Private sector employee evaluation isn't the same as public school evaluation. The private sector is trying to turn a profit. Schools are trying to turn out exceptional students to enter adulthood, hopefully as productive individuals in their own way. Most importantly for the 21st Century is educating children how to think critically. With the amount of information to know in the world doubling every 9-18 months, rote memorization like memorizing the periodic table is no longer enough. Children have to learn how to think critically about the information they are faced with. How do you rate a teacher's ability to teach a child to think critically?
Jason Wescoat August 15, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Peter, apparently you missed my point. I will clarify. The entire point is that if you simply paid people more, the most talented would choose to work there if possible. For more clarification, there are many wonderful teachers who do it for the love of doing it. There are many below average teachers who couldn't cut it in college so they fell back to education because it was easy. That's a problem that's not exclusive to Mehlville. More difficult education filtering out the people who aren't good enough and then pointing to a higher paying career would be good for the education system. Now that I've clarified, would you like to retract your retort now? Feel free to disagree, but please disagree with the point I made and don't make up your own point. As a side note, pretty sure doctors had to learn from a teacher once or twice. I'd just assume get them the best education possible. I will also say, I'm not a fan of how the entire education system is set up. However, it's the system we have, and I don't have the ability to change the entire system. If you have the cache to change the entire education system in the US, go for it. Most importantly, what would make you feel like you benefit from the school district in the area in which you live? You obviously see no benefit at this point.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Peter, I would really rather not have to teach you everything about school finance. Please do your own research as to where that number comes from.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Jason, I was looking for another study I am aware of, but this one partially supports your argument I believe: http://www.gse.upenn.edu/review/feature/ingersoll
Jason Wescoat August 15, 2012 at 07:04 PM
http://www.showmeliving.org/education/ Not sure where they got their info, but according to the "District Ranker" on this above site argues $13000+ per student for Lindbergh and $9000+ per student for Mehlville in 2011. Lindbergh is #2 in MAP scores and Mehlville is #78 in Missouri.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:11 PM
You just can't evaluate a teacher the same way you would evaluate a shift worker at Ford or even an executive at Wal-Mart. Both institutions exists for two different purposes. Some things are similar. Attendance, willingness to conform to standards, etc. The end-product is completely different. As far as how private school teachers are developed, as I mentioned before to you, once socio-economic status is accounted for, public schools outperform private schools on ACT and SAT scores. I believe you called that one of my "Google Searches" but I have written about it extensively over the last 6 years in various formats. Again, look at Rodgers Elementary test score results compared to Forder Elementary. Look at attendance rates, homeless rate, turnover rates by semester, free and reduced lunch rates by level of reduced and free. As someone who owns a business in technology and served on the board, I am more than aware of technology and teaching. I also am aware of the Smart Boards in every elementary classroom at Blades Elementary thanks to their PTO and how the teachers are using them to improve instruction. Unfortunately, other schools in our district aren't so lucky.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I have more H.R. and employee evaluation experience than you might think. I also have 5.5 years of experience on the school board and was the only board member to take up a a consideration of merit pay based on Tennessee's evaluation program. I also proposed other ways to lengthen the school day, cut teacher staff through attenuation over time and keeping only our best teachers, cycling the students through in more a shift program so that more teachers saw more highly effective teachers and in turn increasing teacher pay by 25-50% without costing district taxpayers more money. As a matter of fact, I've spent 100s of volunteer hours on such projects. And as far as your dismissing the study on socioeconomic status and public schools outperforming private schools? It's just straight numbers. You can disregard it all you want, but once you account for socioeconomic status, public schools slightly outperform private schools on SAT and ACT scores. There is no way to fudge that. You either accept it or deny it, but the truth is the same.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Just so we are on the same page... http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0510/p11s01-legn.html ""A New Look at Public and Private Schools: Student Background and Mathematics Achievement" appears in the May issue of Phi Delta Kappan, a highly regarded education journal. Analyzing raw data from the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress for 28,000 fourth- and eighth-graders representing more than 1,300 public and private schools, Mrs. Lubienski, whose research focuses on equity issues in math education, was surprised by what she was seeing. When children of similar socioeconomic status were compared, the public school children scored higher. She called in her husband, who studies school choice and privatization, to help interpret the results." - University of Illinois
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Now, if you have a peer-reviewed study that says otherwise, let's have see it. I haven't been able to find one...not that one doesn't exist, I just haven't seen one.
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
None of Mehlvilles schools can qualify for blue ribbon, I don't believe, because none of them have performed badly enough in the past to improve enough. Again, once you account for socioeconomic status, I would put the mehlville school district up against any private school in St. Louis besides maybe John Burroughs...maybe.
Mike Stevens August 15, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Thank you Karl for the information. I think the bottom line is that the community needs to support and believe in the educational system, regardless of if they have children in the public schools. People move to communities with good schools, driving up property values, increasing businesses due to more customers, and generally making the community better. Mehlville voters seem to be OK with status quo, with being "cheapskate," and this is reflected in the lack of increase in operational revenue, the assault on teacher retirements, and the overall focus, even of some board members, of getting taxes as low as possible and providing a minimum amount of service. If anything, I think that communities who are willing to support schools with higher operational levies reap the benefits of better school systems, better teachers, and better communities overall. Normandy, Riveriew Gardens, St Louis City are all districts that have struggling schools, and let's face it--we don't hear of too many people who are wanting to move into those communities or too many businesses who want to expand into those communities
Mike Stevens August 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
And every one of the Catholic schools can choose which students they accept into their schools, and kick out students who they deem not appropriate. They don't service special education populations or VICC students who travel over an hour one way to school. Public schools don't get to choose their students
Karl Frank Jr. August 15, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Agreed Mike. Jim, Let me know in two or three sentences what I don't understand. From what I can gather, we agree on most things.
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Well Said, Mike. I wish there was a way to like comments on here. :)
Marten Swentsen August 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Sorry Karl, but the studies only "proof" is a conclusion drawn from mixed data sources, that's an opinion.
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It's not an opinion. It's a scientific hypothesis backed up with evidence from a mixed set of data sources. That is proof. An opinion something someone says without evidence. A conclusion is the final step in the scientific method. Like I said, even if the contribution is only half of what this study shows, a quarter million dollars a year is still significant.
Marten Swentsen August 16, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I don't doubt the veracity of Mr. Franks story about reaching his child's teacher late in the evening, but I would also say that teacher is a rare bird indeed. It is not consistent with my experiences or that of many other parents I know, being there every day you get to see which teachers try to beat the buses out of the lot and coincidentally, those that are carrying off arm loads of paper towels, tissues, etc. at the end of the year.
Marten Swentsen August 16, 2012 at 03:04 PM
True enough, a different topic for a different thread, however, since you asked, there have been multiple incidences of teachers berating students for their political and religious beliefs. I have them documented and encourage others to do the same for future use. Building admins always say, "Oh, we will talk to them.", but little or nothing changes. Just another one of the districts "dirty little secrets".
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Martin, we have over 700 teachers in our school district and they are diverse as any other population, but your accusations on the character of the Mehlville's classroom teachers is offensive. Unless you have proof AND know where the teachers were going, you're participating in character assassination of people who don't even know. I for one know that when we have meetings at Central Office at 3:30, teachers who need to be in attendance are in a hurry to get there. You have no idea what you are talking about and I think an apology is in order.
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Again, if that is happening then the documentation should be provided to the administration. How do you know little or nothing changes. I don't understand your accusations that you aren't willing to prove.
Marten Swentsen August 16, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Documentation had been provided and the incidents have continued. Most have just given up when faced with the stone wall presented. Your reaction is no different. It is sad, because Mehlville does have many good teachers and administrators, but their efforts are deeply marginalized by those who simply collect their paycheck, or promote their own agenda through the classroom..
Karl Frank Jr. August 16, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Marten, obviously I can't give you any kind of objective feedback since you won't provide any proof or evidence. We'll just have to take your word for it that our teachers berate our students based on their political and religious beliefs, I guess.
Marten Swentsen August 16, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I will apologize to the extent that I may have painted with too broad a brush, again Mehlville has some fantastic teachers and administrators, I would say absolutely the majority. Unfortunately, there are more than a few who are not and when problems arise there is a "closing of the ranks" and a strong unwillingness to even entertain the possibilities. You are partially correct, I do know there are meetings at Central Office for a myriad of reasons and teachers may have to attend, I don't know for certain where they are going, but I hope you can agree that a given teacher is not going there everyday and should at least be able to remain on campus till the students leave. As for participating in "character assassination", if the shoe fits, I'm sure they do know and I would never come anywhere close to identifying them in a public forum. If we, as a School District, wish to attract and KEEP the best and the brightest with our limited resources and little outlook for increasing said resources, then all must be diligent and objective about our employees and coworkers and what they bring to the table.
Peter Russo August 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Michael: Your questions are right on. A better resident voting block should start asking WHY? the School Administrators are retiring with enormous Pensions. (some reaching over $150,000) A majority of our Educators can retire much earlier than the ordinary worker. A majority of Teachers retire with over $60,000 pensions starting at age 58. By the time you or I retire (age 66) , a teacher has already collected 10 years $600,000 in pensions. This is not about "hard workg teachers" this is about a stupid pay system. 29% of every teachers' pay goes into their Pension system. WHY? When you value any future pay to teachers/Administrators add at least $30,000 to their published W-2 to cover the COST TO PAY THEIR BENEFITS. (THAT IS WHY MEHLVILLES BUDGET IS EXPLODING). Nothing to do with capability. All of our public schools could hire decent and very capable teachers waiting to earn a teacher living if the Residents demand a "freedom to teach" act to the districts. While I support unions in Private industry, Public school Teacher Unions hold our children hostage to a non- competitive wage structure. Competing with their own fellow union teachers is laughable. Only a change in truly competitive wages will stop the increases. Those teachers leaving Mehlville deserve to leave for higher wages, but like every other Govt provided program, the best go to those who CAN AFFORD IT. Public schools cost us all $8,000 per student. That is NOT FREE.
Karl Frank Jr. August 20, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Peter, Mehlville teachers pay 14% of their salary annually into this retirement fund. They more than deserve what they get in return. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you are really that jealous, it's never too late to get your certification and become a teacher.


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