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New Data Show Persistent Lagging Pay for Educators

The National Education Association has released four new reports that show educator salaries have continued to lag behind inflation over the past decade.

The association found that the lag — despite recent efforts to mitigate inflation effects — has limited the ability to attract and retain quality educators amid personnel shortages and low morale, according to its reports exampling educator pay and school funding from pre-K through college.

Becky PringleBecky PringleThe reports include “Rankings and Estimates,” which provides comparative state data and national averages for a wide array of public K-12 education statistics, including average teacher salaries and per-student expenditures.

NEA’s “Teacher Salary Benchmark Report” provides information from over 12,000 local school districts on starting teacher salaries and salaries at other points of the teaching career continuum, while the “Education Support Professional Earnings Report” offers a pay breakdown of school support staff working in K-12 public schools and higher education. The association’s “Higher Education Faculty Salary Analysis” examines full-time faculty and graduate assistant salaries at the national, state, and institutional levels.

The data show that some states, such as Alabama, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Mississippi, Washington, and others, have increased teacher pay over the years. But even with record-level increases in some states, average teacher pay has failed to keep up with inflation over the past decade. Adjusted for inflation, on average, teachers are making 5.3% less than they did 10 years ago.

In higher education, the data reveal that while the average salary for full-time faculty increased 4% in 2022-23, over 2021-22. Adjusting for inflation, faculty purchasing power declined by a cumulative loss of 7% since 2020-21.

Association leaders said much work still needs to be done to close the teacher pay penalty, address inadequate pay for all educators, and make investments to attract and retain quality educators in community public schools.

“Every student, regardless of race or place, deserves caring, qualified, committed educators,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “And every educator needs our fierce support in helping them inspire imagination, curiosity, and a love of learning and to provide the skills students need to thrive in their brilliance.”

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