NEA Study Reveals Teacher Salaries Remained Stagnant for Last Decade
Despite the rise in school enrollments and the chronic teacher shortage faced by many school districts, a state-by-state report released recently by the National Education Association shows teacher salary levels have barely budged over the past 10 years, complicating the nation’s efforts to attract and retain qualified teachers.
The report, “Rankings & Estimates: Rankings of the States 2004 and Estimates of School Statistics 2005,” also demonstrates that other critical investments in U.S. public schools are not keeping pace with the needs of children.
Over the last decade, teacher salaries have remained flat, growing at just 2.8 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Fifteen states saw real declines in average teacher salaries between the 1993-1994 and 2003-2004 school years. Among them were: Alaska (-4.3 percent), Kansas (-0.4 percent), Connecticut (-9.4 percent), Wisconsin (-6.3 percent) and New York (-5.2 percent).
According to NEA President Reginald Weaver, “Every child should be able to attend a great public school and have what he or she needs to succeed — highly qualified teachers, small class sizes and up-to-date textbooks and materials. It’s time for policy makers at all levels to step up and provide the resources.”
Nationwide, at least 2 million teachers will be needed over the next decade because of teacher attrition and retirement and increased student enrollment. Research shows that more than one-third of all new teachers leave the profession within three years and almost half leave within five years due to poor working conditions and low salaries. The percentages are even higher for minority teachers, male teachers and teachers under 30.
Other highlights of the report include:
– Average per student spending for the 2003-2004 school year rose 2.3 percent to $8,248 — with 29 states below the average. Ranking highest were the District of Columbia, New York and Connecticut. The lowest-ranking states were Utah, Arizona and Oklahoma.
– Public school enrollment for fall 2003 rose 0.7 percent, with the fastest-growing student populations in Nevada, Arizona and Florida. The largest decreases in public school enrollment were in the District of Columbia, North Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont.
The full report is available online at <www.nea.org/edstats/index.html>.
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