On September 5th, the Economic Policy Institute released a new report entitled “The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high.”
“Teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado have raised the profile of deteriorating teacher pay as a critical public policy issue. Teachers and parents are protesting cutbacks in education spending and a squeeze on teacher pay that persist well into the economic recovery from the Great Recession. These spending cuts are not the result of weak state economies. Rather, state legislatures have enacted them to finance tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. This paper underscores the crisis in teacher pay by updating our data series on the teacher pay penalty—the percent by which public school teachers are paid less than comparable workers.”
While teachers in North Carolina did not actually go on strike as May 16th was a day of protest (or a special session), the focus of this report was not to simply talk about teacher salaries in general, but to show that raises in states like North Carolina do not match the rising costs of living .
When Phil Berger and Tim Moore laud themselves about historic teacher salary raises, what they do not mention is the relationship between teacher salaries and the income levels of other professionals who have the same educational backgrounds (4-year degree, etc.).
They also don’t tell you that prices rise over time. What it took to purchase something in 2011 may have a much higher price tag now.
Kris Nordstrom posted an article about the EPI report on Sept. 6th in NC Policy Watch and offered a much better synopsis of the findings than this blog could ever articulate. A former policy / budget analyst for the NC General Assembly, Nordstrom now works to explain government policies and legislation for the general public and his ability to dissect and probe what lawmakers have done is unmatched in the world of public school advocacy.
“These competitiveness measures are essential to operating a world-class education system. Teacher quality remains the most important in-class factor for student success. Countries with high-performing education systems, such as South Korea, Finland, and Singapore, understand the value of high-quality teachers and prioritize competitive teacher salaries to recruit and retain the best and brightest into the teaching profession.
The report paints a particularly damning picture of teacher pay competitiveness in North Carolina, ranking the state 49th in terms of teacher wage competitiveness. According to their estimates, teacher pay in North Carolina is a whopping 35.5 percent behind pay for other college graduates in the state. Only Arizona offers a less competitive teacher pay package. Compared to simple rankings of state’s average teacher pay, this competitiveness measure paints a more accurate picture of North Carolina’s ability to attract and retain a high-quality teaching force. It is no coincidence that enrollment in North Carolina teacher preparation programs remains well below historical levels.”
Out of 50.