Teachers appreciate the verbal support they get from celebrities, particularly now when so many of their own children are home because of Covid-19. But words alone are not enough to keep them in the classroom (“To Celebrities Who Say Teachers Should Make Millions: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” Huffington Post, May 12).
The problem is that salaries today have not kept pace with inflation. Yes, there are some teachers in New York City suburbs who make $100,000 a year. But the average salary nationwide is $40,000, hardly enough to recruit and retain the best and the brightest out of college.
Yet there are critics who argue that teachers are not underpaid. A recent report by the Heritage Foundation found that total compensation for public school teachers is roughly 50 percent higher than what they would receive in the private sector. But if that is true, why is enrollment in teacher education programs in California and other bellwether states down 53 percent since 2008?
The shortages admittedly are most acute in special education, math, and science, but all 50 states report difficulty in recruiting teachers in at least one area, according to an Education Week analysis of federal data. Higher salaries alone will not be enough to improve matters, but it is the first step.
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