Low Salaries Keep Many Teachers Out Of The Middle Class: Report

Low Salaries Keep Many Teachers Out Of The Middle Class, Report Says

Teachers’ starting salaries may be nothing to brag about, but a big problem lies in the fact that these salaries barely grow over time, says a new report.

Released this week by the Center for American Progress, the report says many areas of the country barely pay teachers more as they gain experience. This problem might be contributing to high teacher turnover rates and keeping educators out of the middle class.

While the report recognizes that low teacher pay is not news -– especially when it comes to low entry-level salaries –- researchers were interested in seeing if the salaries of mid- and late-career teachers “were high enough to attract and keep the nation’s most talented individuals.” However, in a profession where teacher turnover costs up to $2 billion annually, the results they found are quite depressing.

According to the report, there are several areas of the country where teachers with up to 10 years of experience qualify for federally funded programs that help families in need. In places like Arizona and North Dakota, teachers who act as the breadwinner for a family of four or more qualify for federal programs that could make their children eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches.

The chart below demonstrates how little teacher salaries grow in some parts of the country:


Overall, the report finds that the average base salary for a teacher with 10 years of teaching experience and a bachelor’s degree is $44,900 in the United States. More than 16 percent of teachers in the country hold a job outside of the school system.

However, it isn’t like this in all parts of the world. In other countries, teachers’ salaries can grow substantially as they gain experience in other countries, per the report:

chart 2

The report concludes that while salary issues alone don’t cause talented teachers to leave the profession, it could be at least one part of the problem.

“As a nation, we need to do far more to attract -- and keep -- mid- and late-career teachers,” concludes the report. “In the end, if we truly want to retain top talent in our classrooms, we need to offer top-talent salaries.”

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Arne Duncan

Education Leaders Who Have Never Taught

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