Celebrity talk about teacher salaries is cheap

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.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

2 Replies to “Celebrity talk about teacher salaries is cheap”

  1. The huge hit to state and local govt budgets from covid-19 will result in teacher salaries being frozen for at least a year or two in most school systems. We’ll also see teacher layoffs to save $ with a corresponding increase in class size and teacher workload. And, so long as the unemployment rate remains high, it will be more difficult to generate voter support for higher taxes to fund teacher salary increases — voters will think “if i’m unemployed (or my brother or cousin or buddy is unemployed), then no way I’m voting for higher taxes so someone who is already employed can get a salary increase”.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: I agree. Whatever support teachers had for higher salaries is now vitiated by the hit to the economy caused by the pandemic. Teacher morale is at an all-time low because of the confluence of so many unprecedented factors. I see little hope that it will improve in the near future.

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