A new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that average weekly salaries for teachers are nearly 20 percent lower than pay for similarly educated employees in other fields, and the gap has been growing for decades.
“Teacher pay, nationally at least, has barely kept up with inflation,” said Mark Tallman with the Kansas Association of School Boards. “Other college educated professions have grown since then. What it really talks about is the pay gap between teachers and other people, kind of with similar educational needs.”
The problems with a pay gap are multifaceted.
“Either you can look for a different profession that pays better, if you see yourself or your family falling behind, or you don’t go into it to begin with,” said Tallman. “That, I think, is one of the things we know, is that there are simply fewer young people going into colleges of education.”
Solving the pay gap isn’t necessarily the only way to get better outcomes, however.
“School boards are generally aware of and concerned about this gap,” said Tallman. “They want to try to address it. There’s also a concern that paying people more to do the same job, even if they’re underpaid, does not necessarily lead to different results. They’re weighing that against, well, do we need to hire some more teachers or counselors, or special ed aides, or some of these other positions?”
Since 1996, however, teacher pay nationally, when adjusted for inflation, has actually fallen about $20 per week, while non-teacher pay has increased by $323 per week.