Press-Gazette Media recently reported the record salary of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The headline trumpeted: "Worth It." It reminded me of an article I had saved: "The Value of Teachers," an editorial by Nicholas Kristof (Jan. 12, 2012, New York Times). Kristof's article examines an extensive study by Harvard and Columbia economists who followed 1 million students "from fourth grade through adulthood." The findings project the lifestyle and economic benefits for students of a good teacher versus a bad teacher. Kristof in one example observes that "having a good fourth-grade teacher" reduces the likelihood of teenage pregnancies and increases students' lifetime income "on average" by $25,000, "or about $700,000 in gains for an average size class." Kristof calculates that it would actually pay parents to raise money to offer that teacher a $100,000 bonus to stay on one extra year.
The Green Bay area fortunately has good teachers. The Press-Gazette recently featured some of them in this year's Golden Apple award winners. Of course, retaining such valuable teachers would require un-freezing the proposed budget for public schools in Wisconsin. But it would be "worth it." I bet Mr. Rodgers would agree.