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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Low Teacher Pay Keeps Some Educators Out of the Middle Class
Press Release

RELEASE: Low Teacher Pay Keeps Some Educators Out of the Middle Class

Read the report.

Washington, D.C. — A new report released today by the Center for American Progress reveals that low teacher pay is keeping experienced educators out of the middle class. The report highlights the growing problem of paltry mid- and late-career teacher salaries and proposes options to increase teacher salaries and keep talented teachers in the profession.

“Far too many teachers are working second jobs,” said Ulrich Boser, co-author of the report and a CAP Senior Fellow. “Low teacher pay keeps qualified individuals out of the profession, and as a nation, we need to come up with more creative solutions to help teachers get the pay that they deserve.”

The report found that in many states, the base salaries of mid- and late-career educators are deeply low. In some states, for example, a teacher with a master’s degree and 15 years of experience makes less than a sheet metal worker. In other states, experienced teachers make less than a flight attendant. For the report, the authors relied on base teacher salaries, which typically does not include summer jobs or other forms of additional income.

According to the report, teachers who are family breadwinners often qualify for federally funded benefit programs established to provide financial support. Mid- or late-career teachers who head families of four or more people in states such as Arizona and North Dakota qualify for several benefit programs including the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the School Breakfast and Lunch Program.

The report also found that large percentages of teachers work second jobs, and in 11 states, more than 20 percent of teachers rely on the financial support of a second job. In some states such as Maine, that number is as high as 25 percent. The data on teachers working second jobs do not include income earned over the summer.

In the report, co-authors Chelsea Straus and Ulrich Boser explain that low teacher pay keeps potentially effective teachers out of the profession. The report also argues that states and districts develop smarter career paths for teacher, and the authors believe that innovative compensation systems can help keep talented teachers in the profession.

Read the report: Mid- and Late-Career Teachers Struggle With Paltry Incomes by Ulrich Boser and Chelsea Straus

To speak with an expert on this topic, contact Katie Peters at [email protected].