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Our Position & Actions on Professional Pay

Our Position

Low teacher pay comes at a high cost for schools and kids, who lose good teachers to better-paying professions. Some 20 percent of new public school teachers leave the profession by the end of the first year, and almost half leave within five years. Pay-related turnover is especially high for minorities, males, and teachers under the age of 30.

Having highly qualified teachers is essential to student success — but who in the future will be lured into a profession with wages that start low and fail to keep pace with comparable careers?

Through its nationwide salary initiative, NEA is advocating for a $40,000 starting salary for all pre-K-12 teachers, and appropriate professional pay for higher education faculty and staff.

ESPs Deserve A Living Wage

Education support professionals (ESPs) keep school buildings and equipment functioning and students safe and healthy. As committed and caring members of a school community, they impact the lives of students every day.

Yet support professionals are woefully underpaid, often barely able to afford to live in the communities they serve. In many parts of the country, school support professionals work two or even three jobs to feed and shelter their families, or earn so little that they qualify for government assistance. Learn more.

Higher Education Faculty and Staff Are Worth Professional Pay

Anxious parents might bemoan the cost of college tuition, but it's clear that the solution to higher education affordability doesn't lie in the salaries of faculty who teach students or the support staff who keep campuses running.

According to NEA research, faculty salaries decreased by 1 percent in 2004-05, the second straight year that increases did not keep pace with inflation. In addition to watching their purchasing power shrink, faculty must contend with increasing workloads, pay inequity across disciplines, and complex compensation issues related to intellectual property they develop and online courses they teach.

For contingent faculty, part-time and full-time temporary faculty hired without the chance for tenure, the picture is far worse. They teach the lion's share of courses, yet contingents are paid substantially less than tenured or tenure-track faculty, and they have few rights or benefits. Many contingents cobble together a living by teaching for two or three different institutions, spending more time in their cars than on campus interacting with students.

NEA's salary initiative aims to improve pay for higher education faculty and support professionals.


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