We’re just wondering what’s going on at the University of Texas and its coaches.  First they hire a football coach named Strong. Then they hire a basketball coach named Smart.  We’re guessing that whenever Augie Garrido steps down as baseball coach they will be looking for Coach Goodlooking.

Of course all coaches at HookEm U could be described as Coach Rich.  Charlie Strong is the highest paid state employee in Texas.  And Rick Barnes just got paid $1.75 million for getting fired.

It just goes to show that we value athletics a lot in this country.  I once heard a talk by motivational speaker Earl Nightingale in which he talked about how much money a person can expect to make in various occupations. He said it was all based on three factors: 1) how much people want or need the service or product you provide; 2) how well you do it; and 3) how difficult it would be to find someone else to do what you do.

Nightingale said that this analysis applies to every job in every industry.  There is no moral component to the analysis. Drug dealers make a boatload of money because 1) drugs are in great demand; 2) some of them do it very well; and 3) they are hard to replace, especially if they deal with dangerous situations.

Coaches of college athletics in the big revenue sports (football, men’s basketball) make a lot of money because we love those sports so much that a lot of money is there to be had.  And some of them (Mack Brown, Coach K) do it very well.  The pool of talent able to perform at that level is pretty small.  So all three factors favor big bucks.

So think about public school teachers.  Why are they not paid better?

Factor #1: Of course we say that we value our kids’ education enormously, but the proof is in the pudding.  Some of our politicians and business leaders seem to be actively looking for ways to reduce funding.

Factor #2:  The best teacher in the state gets paid about the same as the worst, if their degrees and years of experience are the same.  We have not yet figured out a way to better compensate the teachers who are superstars.

Factor #3:  One teacher retires, and another one comes along.  It’s not hard to find another teacher. It might be hard to find another really good teacher, but the truth is, that’s not what the public demands. We can always find someone who can stand in front of the class.

So if the Nightingale analysis is correct—and I think it is—teachers will probably never be as well compensated as professional athletes or movie stars.  Which makes it all the more important that we find non-monetary ways to make the job of teaching fulfilling and satisfying.