Are Public School Teachers Overpaid?
New Evidence on Salaries, Benefits and Job Security
About This Event


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The public commonly accepts that public school teachers are “desperately underpaid,” in the words of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and that raising teacher pay should be a priority of education reform. But is this true? AEI Resident Scholar Andrew Biggs and Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jason Richwine will provide new data on teacher salaries, fringe benefits and job security that point to significantly more value in teachers’ total compensation packages than was previously evident. Although some teachers may be underpaid, the data suggest the majority are receiving higher pay than they would be likely to receive in private-sector employment.

2:45 PM
3:00 PM


JASON RICHWINE, Heritage Foundation
ROBERT COSTRELL, University of Arkansas


5:00 PM


Event Contact Information


For more information, please contact Rohan Poojara at, 202-862-5852.     

Media Contact Information


For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at, 202.862.4871.

Speaker Biographies

Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. Prior to joining AEI he was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts and led the agency's participation in the Social Security Trustees working group. In 2005 he worked on Social Security reform at the National Economic Council and in 2001 was on the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Mr. Biggs’s work at AEI focuses on Social Security reform, state and local government pensions and comparisons of public and private sector compensation. His work has appeared in academic publications as well as outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post, and he has testified before Congress on numerous occasions.

Robert M. Costrell is professor of education reform and economics and holds the endowed chair in education accountability at the University of Arkansas. His current research topics include teacher pension policy, fiscal impact of school choice and methodologies for school funding estimation. He is also an expert in standards-based reform. Mr. Costrell’s academic career has featured seminal publications on the economic theory of educational standards, income distribution and testing and teacher pensions, as well as school finance litigation that have appeared in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy and Education Finance and Policy, as well as general interest publications, such as Brookings Papers on Education Policy and Education Next. From 1999 to 2006, he served in major policy roles for three governors of Massachusetts, including policy research director and chief economist. As education advisor to Governor Mitt Romney, he helped develop the governor’s comprehensive education reform proposal of 2005 and led the reforms of the state's district and charter funding formulas. He represented the administration on the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (2001–03) and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (2005–06). Mr. Costrell has served on the US Department of Education’s Advisory Council on Education Statistics (2001–02) and the National Technical Advisory Council for NCLB (2008-09). He joined the faculty at the University of Arkansas in August 2006 and is the founding graduate director of the PhD program in education policy. He also taught economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (1978–2000). 

Andrew P. Kelly
is a research fellow in education policy studies at AEI and a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on higher education policy, congressional policymaking, and political behavior. As a graduate student, Mr. Kelly was a National Science Foundation interdisciplinary training fellow and graduate student instructor. Previously, he was a research assistant at AEI, where his work focused on the preparation of school leaders, collective bargaining in public schools and the politics of education. His research has appeared in Teachers College Record, Educational Policy, Policy Studies Journal, Education Next, Education Week, Forbes, and various edited volumes, and he is a coauthor of the 2009 AEI report “Diplomas and Dropouts: Which Schools Actually Graduate Their Students (and Which Don't).” 

Jason Richwine conducts quantitative analyses on a wide variety of social policy issues, among them immigration, education, welfare and family structure. He is the Heritage Foundation’s senior policy analyst in empirical studies and works in the think tank’s Center for Data Analysis (CDA), which provides the public policy community with state-of-the-art modeling, database products and research assistance. Mr. Richwine’s analysis and articles have appeared in major newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News and in political journals such as National Review and The American Spectator. Richwine, who joined Heritage in March 2010, previously worked at the American Enterprise Institute on a dissertation fellowship.

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AEI Participants


Andrew G.
  • Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies Social Security reform, state and local government pensions, and public sector pay and benefits.

    Before joining AEI, Biggs was the principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA), where he oversaw SSA’s policy research efforts. In 2005, as an associate director of the White House National Economic Council, he worked on Social Security reform. In 2001, he joined the staff of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. Biggs has been interviewed on radio and television as an expert on retirement issues and on public vs. private sector compensation. He has published widely in academic publications as well as in daily newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also testified before Congress on numerous occasions. In 2013, the Society of Actuaries appointed Biggs co-vice chair of a blue ribbon panel tasked with analyzing the causes of underfunding in public pension plans and how governments can securely fund plans in the future.

    Biggs holds a bachelor’s degree from Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland, master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London, and a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

  • Phone: 202-862-5841
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Kelly Funderburk
    Phone: 202-862-5920


Andrew P.
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