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Inflation continues to outpace teacher salary growth

Average teachers' salaries declined over the past decade


WASHINGTON - December 18, 2008 -

Teachers across the nation are continuing to lose spending power for themselves and their families as inflation continued to outpace teacher salaries last year, according to the National Education Association's update to the annual report Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2008 and Estimates of School Statistics 2009.

Over the decade from 1997-98 to 2007-08, in constant dollars, average salaries for public schoolteachers declined 1 percent while inflation increased 31.4 percent. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia saw real declines in average teacher salaries over those years, adjusting for inflation.

"Public schoolteachers deserve professional pay for professional work," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "If we are going to close the achievement gaps, reduce school dropouts and recruit and retain highly qualified teachers, we need to compensate teachers across the country fairly for the work they do."

According to the report, the average one-year increase in public schoolteacher salaries was 3.1 percent, while inflation increased 4.3 percent. The national average public schoolteacher salary for 2007-2008 was $52,308. State average public schoolteacher salaries ranged from those in California ($64,424), New York ($62,332) and Connecticut ($61,976) at the high end, to South Dakota ($36,674), North Dakota ($40,279) and Utah ($41,615) at the low end.

Rankings and Estimates provides statistics to raise public understanding of key issues affecting teaching and learning conditions in the nation's public schools. Teacher salaries and public education indicators including school enrollment, student-teacher ratios and school funding at the local, state and federal levels are reported in the annual state-by-state report. Among the other highlights:

  •  " Public school enrollment - Public school enrollment was 48,949,723 million, up 0.3 percent over fall 2006. The largest percentage enrollment increases from fall 2006 to fall 2007 were in Nevada (3.5 percent), Arizona (2.5 percent), Delaware (2.1 percent) and Ohio (2.1 percent). Twenty states and the District of Columbia experienced declines in student enrollment in fall 2007. The greatest declines were in the District of Columbia (-3.6 percent), Michigan (-2.6 percent), Vermont (-2.0 percent) and North Dakota (-1.6 percent).
  • " Gender diversity in teaching - Males comprised 24.5 percent of public schoolteachers in 2008. Many of them taught in Kansas (33.6 percent), Oregon (31.6 percent), Alaska (30.9 percent) or Indiana (30.5 percent). States with the lowest percentage of male faculty were Arkansas (16.2 percent), Virginia (17.4 percent), Mississippi (17.5 percent), Louisiana (18 percent), South Carolina (18.5 percent) and Georgia (19.7 percent).
  • " Expenditures per student - The U.S. average per student expenditure for public elementary and secondary schools in 2007-08 fall enrollment was $9,963. States with the highest per student expenditures were New Jersey ($15,374), New York ($15,286), Vermont ($14,336), Wyoming ($13,967) and Massachusetts ($13,768). Arizona ($5,346), Utah ($5,734), Nevada ($7,133), Mississippi ($7, 175) and Idaho ($7, 305) had the lowest per student expenditures.

Rankings and Estimates has presented selected education statistics since the 1960s.


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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 822-7823