Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who Is The $46,752 Teacher?

Citing a study by the National Education Association, CNN is reporting what many of us who are in the classroom already knew. Teacher salaries are not keeping up with inflation:

Teachers earned an average of $46,752 last year, a slight raise that did not keep pace with inflation, a teachers' union says.

The average salary increased 2.1 percent in 2003-04, according to state figures compiled by the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

The inflation rate was 3.3 percent in 2004. Since 2000, the raise for teachers has ranged from 2.1 percent to 3.8 percent.

Salaries are often seen as an important reason why schools struggle to hire and keep teachers, particularly in subject areas or locations that have frequent shortages of instructors.

The NEA estimates the average salary will increase 2.1 percent again this year.

Over the past 20 years, the typical teacher's salary has grown $24,150, but adjusted for inflation, it has increased only $2,677, or 11.3 percent, the NEA says.

Over the past decade, 15 states have seen a real decline in average teacher salaries when inflation is factored in, the organization says.

In the most recent year, 2003-04, salaries ranged significantly across the states, accounting for cost of living differences and variations in how salary packages are set up.

The top state, Connecticut, paid public school teachers an average yearly salary of $57,337. The District of Columbia was next at $57,009.

South Dakota paid the lowest average salary, $33,236, while Oklahoma was next-to-last at $35,061. The NEA got its figures by surveying state education agencies.

As a classroom teacher, I find it ironic that what is expected of me as a teacher has substantially increased, and yet the rate of compensation that is paid to me has not even kept pace with the constantly-increasing cost of living.

I think it strange that each year folks expect teachers to do more (and better) work without really increasing what they are paid.

And isn't it ironic that the $46,752 "average" teaching salary is what is paid to outstanding as well as average and below-average teachers? But then again, if we were to pay outstanding teachers more than those that are "average" (or below) how does one objectively determine who the outstanding teachers are?
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