Obama praises S. Korea for paying teachers as much as doctors, engineers

April 16, 2015
President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, April 16, 2015, during a Champions of Change event highlighting issues important to working families. Sanding on stage with the president are people that have championed working families. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Thursday, April 16, 2015, during a Champions of Change event highlighting issues important to working families. Sanding on stage with the president are people that have championed working families. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON, April 16 (Yonhap) — U.S. President Barack Obama has praised South Korea’s education system again, saying teachers in Korea are paid as much as doctors and engineers.

“My sister was a teacher, and so I know how little she got paid. It’s hard to support a family. And there are a lot of young people who are really talented who want to go into teaching,” Obama said in a town hall meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

“In places like Korea and Finland, where the education system is really doing well, teachers are paid at the level that doctors and engineers are paid, and it is respected as a profession,” he said.

Obama has lauded Korea’s education zeal and system many times since taking office in 2009.

But Wednesday’s statement about teachers’ pay is far from reality. Doctors are one of the highest-paid professions in South Korea, not on par with teachers in terms of pay.

45 Comments

  1. Chris

    April 16, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    Engineers get paid less than teachers in the UK

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  4. Balls

    April 16, 2015 at 10:25 PM

    In the UK, teachers get paid less than engineers.

    • Vince

      April 16, 2015 at 10:50 PM

      I don’t know about teachers vs engineers, but bunching engineers and doctors together in terms of salary is a joke anywhere.

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  6. Blair

    April 16, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    Engineers are paid more than doctors in Alberta, Canada.

  7. Mank Demes

    April 16, 2015 at 11:20 PM

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  8. Doritan Cheeto

    April 16, 2015 at 11:22 PM

    Hello, has anyone heard of Reddit?

    • Russell

      April 16, 2015 at 11:45 PM

      Yeah, reddit brought me here :P

  9. Mämmi Saunanen

    April 16, 2015 at 11:42 PM

    Teachers are paid about one third of what medical doctors are paid in Finland though.

  10. Richard Bhatt

    April 17, 2015 at 12:08 AM

    Doctors don’t get three months off. They pay much tax on much of their income. They go to medical school. They don’t get a pension. Doctors’ income isn’t that much more.

    • qwert

      April 17, 2015 at 12:29 AM

      you are wrong

  11. Nam

    April 17, 2015 at 12:23 AM

    In my experience even as student, in Korea, teacher appeared hard job to pitiful extent. To understand my word you will have to realize student’s meaning of Korea. Korea student is student who need control rather than encouragement.

  12. Bryan

    April 17, 2015 at 12:27 AM

    My parents are both teachers in the US. They both work extra jobs to make ends meet. I went through the university system and Im not making enough. I am in debt for my education. So don’t judge

  13. reddit

    April 17, 2015 at 1:09 AM

    Reddit brought me here

  14. Markus

    April 17, 2015 at 1:11 AM

    In norway teachers are poorly payed (49,227 euro a year) compared to garbage collectors (41.941 euro per year). about 20-30 years ago teachers refused to teach unless their wage went up, and in the end they won their case. now the problem is back again as teachers have barely got any more wage in about 30 years.

  15. Tim

    April 17, 2015 at 2:19 AM

    He also praised University at Buffalo for being a great school when the president gets paid nearly 700K a year and the rising number of adjuncts get paid less than 2.5K per class and no health benefits.

    He also praised Arizona State which is driving down professor wages, increasing teaching loads, attempting to eliminate tenure, increasing class sizes at an alarming rate, and pushing more and more classes off campus and on to the internet, all the while Dean Crow gets 900K per year.

    By supporting these two university “leaders” and their anti-educator and pro-administration policies, I’m not sure he is fighting for decent pay for America’s educators. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is exactly the opposite.

  16. Lark

    April 17, 2015 at 2:53 AM

    there IS a difference between someone who has spent 4 years at an ‘education’ college and someone who has competed to complete at least 12 years of higher education (physician) who also literally could be responsible for your health/life at any moment.

    however, not to discount the importance of teachers: they are crucial in society. i have NO problem paying them extremely high wages; but let them be educated and vetted and mentored for twelve years like doctors. don’t our children deserve teachers of that caliber?

    • Greg

      April 17, 2015 at 8:43 AM

      Those doctors probably had pretty good teachers.

    • Holly

      April 19, 2015 at 5:17 PM

      Doctors are taught by other doctors in medical school…not “teachers” in the traditional sense. Teachers do deserve way more than they’re paid, but maybe not as much as a doctor who had to be in school for 10+ years working their asses off.

    • Brenda

      April 27, 2015 at 1:20 PM

      Sure, agreed Doc. Can we teachers also regulate ourselves as you are able? Teachers don’t have a panel of vetted and respected professionals to operate our certification and professional rules – we get politicians who never spent a day in the classroom to tell us what to.

  17. Josh

    April 17, 2015 at 3:31 AM

    I have a feeling the teachers in Korea are much better, more educated and disciplined than the teachers in the US. Just sayin.

    • Brenda

      April 27, 2015 at 1:22 PM

      I have a feeling the students in Korea are much better quality than in the U.S. too…..

  18. sndidn

    April 17, 2015 at 3:35 AM

    In Australia, teachers only get paid the amount of hours that they are looking after students. So students are at school from 9.00am to 3.00pm, so teachers are only paid from 9.00am that he yoga teachers a 3.00pm. Even though they get to school at 8.00am and leave at 5.00pm and also do work at home too.

  19. Benjamin Song

    April 17, 2015 at 4:26 AM

    I don’t know where President Obama gets his fact, but it is not accurate in many aspects.

    As I am a Korean, who spent 12 years of my education in Korea, I have to say what he said is far faraway from reality.

    President Obama should check his source.

  20. lal

    April 17, 2015 at 4:55 AM

    His peeps should check his source lol, he hasnt got time for that

  21. Eric

    April 17, 2015 at 6:29 AM

    The education system should be taken more seriously in the United States – there is no doubt about that. Having been through it myself with a 4.0 GPA – I feel I’m qualified to say it’s an absolute joke. My sister is a teacher, and she does it because she believes she can make a difference. She’s wrong, but I commend her for trying.

    It’s possible they have wonderful education systems in Finland and South Korea with amazing teachers. Qualified individuals understand they can make a great living in that profession, and so they’ll choose to pursue it as a career. But here is the deal: if you start paying teachers 100k for what they do, I would become a teacher tomorrow. The increased competition would have the best and brightest minds choosing to become teachers, and then hundreds of thousands of teachers would be out of jobs.

    From my experience in 13 years of public education in a school district which was rated top 10 public schools in the nation, most teachers are terrible at what they do. They do enough to keep parents from berating them for anything. They’re basically glorified baby sitters. I’ve had a couple wonderful teachers, and I still keep in touch with them, but the majority are awful.

    If you pay the teachers already in place 100k, they’re not going to somehow become better at their job. It doesn’t work that way. To have better teachers, you need to have a better candidate pool. There will be increased competition, the best new teachers will be taking those 100k jobs (away from the teachers already in place), and then what are the losing candidates going to do? It’s not as if you can apply a teaching degree to many other facets of life.

  22. NamJinKook

    April 17, 2015 at 7:13 AM

    Teachers here in Korea make 3,000 bucks a month or more and have a good pension compared to other jobs. I wouldnt say they make the same as doctors. The big problem is they are overworked with trivial tasks that should be done by secretaries and the principal and vice principals. They have trouble concentrating on teaching their subjects. Public school teachers aren’t taken seriously anymore as the children (sometimes younger than 10) are just sent to expensive private afterschools late into the night to learn material that is way past their grade level. Parents deprive them of sleep, weekends, freetime, and social life. I’m sure Obama’s guides in Korea painted a real pretty picture for him.

  23. Matthew

    April 17, 2015 at 7:26 AM

    teachers are always at school. they work the most overtime in the world training our youth while were saving lives and working hard. they deserve more pay in the US. Of they paid more it would make teachig more competitive and weed out the bad teachers.

  24. John Morgan

    April 17, 2015 at 7:43 AM

    Only martyrs become teachers in America.

    Source: I left teaching for a career with better pay. At the end of the day, I could be a teacher and help inspire a generation of young scientists (I taught high school science and engineering) or I could feed my family, but I couldn’t do both.

  25. Mark Lakehouse

    April 17, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    Teaches make upward of $55,000 to $70,000 thousand for 9 months of work because they are off 2 weeks for Christmas and 1 week for Spring and Fall spring, plus June and July. $70,000 divided by 9 equal &7,700.00 a month. If u can’t live off $7000.00 a month, sometimes is wrong.

    • Ella

      April 17, 2015 at 5:08 PM

      Those amounts are grossly inaccurate. I teach and my yearly salary is 47000. I recently looked into relocating and chose not to because I couldn’t find a single state that was anywhere close to my salary with my number of years experience. Even after 30 years, I’ll only make about 10k more than I currently do.

      My take home pay is 2800 a month. That is FAR from 7000. A teacher pretty much HAS to have a domestic partner or spouse just to pay the bills.

    • Guest

      April 17, 2015 at 5:29 PM

      7,000/month? What state is this?!

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  31. tito

    April 17, 2015 at 5:44 PM

    When you pay teachers in line with doctors and such you will not have just 4 yr degrees. People with multiple masters and phd’s will come as well as people with work histories in major industry.
    Here a masters is required for teachers and you have a probation status until.

  32. Frank

    April 18, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    I wouldn’t put much stock in his praise.
    Didn’t he praise the VA Medical system before the scandals broke?

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  34. Doctor Lee

    July 16, 2015 at 6:37 PM

    The biggest reason for this.
    Doctors salary has decreased steadily in the South.

  35. One of Kims

    July 16, 2015 at 10:43 PM

    Its totally not true. As far as i am concerned in 27 years live in Korea, teachers in school are put in interest because of job security and well-being, not because of their payment as much as doctors. With the similar tendency worldwide, students are much more eager to get in medical school than college of education.

  36. One of Kims

    July 16, 2015 at 10:45 PM

    Payments are much lower than Doctors’

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