“The erosion of teacher pay relative to that of comparable workers in the last couple of years — and in fact since 2008 — reflects state policy decisions (mainly tax cuts) rather than the result of revenue challenges brought on by the Great Recession,” according to the analysis by the the Economic Policy Institute.
The EPI said the teacher wage penalty — how much less teachers make than comparable workers — grew from 5.5 percent in 1979 to a record 18.7 percent in 2017. The wage penalty was fairly stable from 1979 to the mid-1990s but then grew into the early 2000s. After some variability in the mid-2000s, the increasing teacher wage penalty continued to grow from 2010 through 2017, rising from 12.1 to 18.7 percent — driven by a particularly large increase in the wage penalty for female teachers.
The analysis noted that while teacher benefits are still generally higher than benefits in other professions, they are also declining and do not begin to make up for the loss in salary. The total teacher compensation penalty was a record-high 11.1 percent in 2017 (composed of an 18.7 percent wage penalty plus a 7.6 percent benefit advantage), it said.
The EPI offered two analyses. In the first, public school teacher wages were compared to wages of workers with comparable education, experience, and other characteristics, resulting in the 18.7% pay gap estimate. To break down comparisons by states, the analysis was more limited, comparing public school teachers with other college graduates by education level. In that second comparison, the national pay gap was 23.8%, and the pay gap for Wisconsin teachers was 22.2%.
“If the policy goal is to improve the quality of the entire teaching workforce, then raising the level of teacher compensation, including wages, is critical to recruiting and retaining higher-quality teachers,” the EPI analysis concludes. “Policies that solely focus on changing the composition of current compensation (e.g., merit or pay-for-performance schemes) without actually increasing compensation levels are unlikely to be effective. Simply put, improving overall teacher quality, preventing turnover, and strengthening teacher retention requires eliminating the teacher pay penalty.”
Read entire analysis:
The teacher pay penalty has hit a new high: Trends in the teacher wage and compensation gaps through 2017
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.
Read more in The Guardian:
American teachers are getting paid less – even though they are better qualified than ever, new research has found. Teacher salaries are down by nearly 5% compared with before the Great Recession – and it’s not because teachers are younger or less educated, according to the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution.