The countdown is on- we need to raise $200,000- help us reach our goal by midnight. Donate Now

Some states are considering raising teachers’ salaries. Is it enough to keep them on the job?

Stephanie Hughes Feb 1, 2022
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Alabama's governor is proposing a 4% pay raise for school teachers. Other states may follow suit. Kenny Holston/Getty Images

Some states are considering raising teachers’ salaries. Is it enough to keep them on the job?

Stephanie Hughes Feb 1, 2022
Heard on:
Alabama's governor is proposing a 4% pay raise for school teachers. Other states may follow suit. Kenny Holston/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

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.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

The countdown is on 

We’re trying to raise $200,000 by midnight! Help us reach our goal.