Some states are considering raising teachers’ salaries. Is it enough to keep them on the job?
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Schools have historically dealt with a high level of attrition. Approximately 30% of teachers leave within their first five years on the job.
Now, with the hope of keeping them in the classroom, many governors are proposing salary increases. For example, in Alabama, Republican Governor — and former high school teacher — Kay Ivey has proposed a 4% raise. That would reportedly bring the starting salary for teachers there to around $43,000 per year.
If one state increases teachers’ salaries, others are likely to as well, according to Jacob Vigdor, who studies education policy as a professor at the University of Washington.
“There’s a little bit of an element of an arms race that goes on,” he said.
It’s hard to bring in teachers without a competitive salary, he added. That’s also because they could make more money doing something else entirely.
A study from the Economic Policy Institute found that public school teachers earn about 20% less than other workers with the same levels of experience and education.
“Teachers don’t go into their occupation to get rich,” said Lawrence Mishel, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute, and one of authors of that study. “But they do have some expectation of being able to provide for the family and have a house and send their own kids to college. And I think that’s exceedingly difficult.”
“We need to erase that gap, that teacher penalty gap,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. It’s a union that has 1.7 million members, many of them educators.
Weingarten said that we need seasoned teachers in the classroom. “I’m speaking from my own experience now: You’re a better teacher your third year than you are your first year. We need to keep teachers in teaching.”
And Weingarten said we need to respect that experience. That’s also key to keeping teachers.
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