We have seen teachers walk out of their classrooms across the country, from Arizona to West Virginia. In most cases they are protesting two things: (1) the inability of their states to fund teacher salaries at a reasonable level; and (2) the inability of states to recover from the Great Recession, 2008-2010. Sykes writes:
Why this matters: Teachers are protesting for pay raises and better benefits. In most states their salaries haven’t kept pace with inflation.
He uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics to produce an interesting and instructive interaction chart on teacher salaries and cost of living increases over a period of six years (click here for the interactive chart). I have inserted a static picture of the chart showing cost of living adjustments.
The data illustrates that teachers in 12 out of 50 states, 24%, have seen a cost of living increase over the six-year period. In addition, there are 19 states where teachers make less than $50,229, on average. Just for reference, the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) for a family of five in the United States is $30,000. One of the states in the group of 19 is Oklahoma. Here is a quote from TeachingDegree.org
Education students working to satisfy teaching requirements in Oklahoma will invariably inquire about the average salary earned by teachers in the profession. Although income for educators with teaching certification in Oklahoma will vary depending upon factors such as geographic location, school district, and area of specialization, the state of Oklahoma’s minimum teacher salary ranges from $31,600 to $46,000.
Notice the lower end of the range is around $30,000, the FPL for a family of five. No doubt this would be true of other states in the list of 19, like MS, ID, AZ, WV and MO. Most of the states where teachers are walking out are in the group of 19.
With National Teacher Appreciation Week starting May 7, isn’t it high time that we value teachers and the teaching profession with compensation that fits their education and preparation to serve our students. For me the answer is simple, YES!