Which public employees make the most money in the United States? This infographic claims to have the answers, and most of them are sports coaches.
I can’t assess the data behind this, although the article does offer some caveats and signs of research towards the end.
So why does this matter for education?
First, it signals some of the priorities in public education. Sometimes it’s medical education, which is a trend we need to watch. Most often, though, athletics has a very high value. Note that this is true even after five years of economic turbulence nigh unto recession, with many states slashing funding.
Second, the chart reminds us that classic political partisanship doesn’t work very well, as many blue states (favoring the Democratic party) have leading salaries for sports, while some red states (favoring the Republicans), like Montana or the Dakotas, have other leading fields.
Third, caveats: this is largely symbolic. The chart displays a mere fifty individuals, a tiny group within the huge number of people working in American public education. We shouldn’t get carried away to make large inferences about institutional or state budgets. And this map may well be modified as people content data. But symbolism matters; cf the preceding two points.
Let me end with a question. Will the map look the same in 2033?
(thanks to Russ Vaught)