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Teachers in 15 States See Salaries Decline

New report shows salaries in many states are not keeping pace with inflation

By Kevin Hart

February 2, 2010 -- Under the strain of curriculum changes, increasing enrollment and more state and federal mandates, today’s teachers are dealing with more responsibilities than ever before. Unfortunately, according to a newly released report from the National Education Association, these new duties are not being reflected in teacher paychecks.

In fact, teachers in 15 states are actually making less today than they were a decade ago, relative to inflation.

“Public schoolteachers across the nation are continuing to lose spending power for themselves and their families in an already struggling economy,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “We need to compensate teachers fairly for the work they do."

The report, Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2009 and Estimates of School Statistics 2010, found that, adjusting for inflation, teacher pay increased only 3.4 percent on average, or $177 per year, from 1999-2009, and that teachers in several states experienced what amounts to pay cuts.

Some states actually saw teacher salaries relative to inflation decline by 5 percent of more. Those states include Pennsylvania (-8.9 percent); Indiana (-7.1 percent); Michigan (-6.8 percent), New Jersey (-5.6 percent); Connecticut (-5.3 percent); and South Dakota (-5.2 percent).

“How can we recruit and retain quality teachers for our students if we don’t pay them what they’re worth?” said Van Roekel. “Professional work deserves professional pay.”

The U.S. average public school teacher salary for 2008–09 was $54,319, and state average public school salaries ranged from a high of $69,118 in New York to a low of $35,070 in South Dakota.

The NEA first published statistical data on schools in 1942-43. The Rankings and Estimates report relies primarily on data gathered from state departments of education.
To read the entire report, click here.


NEA press release on the Rankings and Estimates report

Frequently asked questions about the Rankings and Estimates report