Teachers In Some States Make So Little, They Need To Take Second Jobs

A recent report from the Center for American Progress, titled “Mid- and Late- Career Teachers Struggle with Paltry Incomes,” highlights another element in the discussion about teacher pay: even experienced teachers get screwed.

Among the somewhat depressing findings:

  • In their first 15 years of work, elementary school teachers in the U.S see 10% less salary growth than the average elementary school teacher in the rest of the developed world.

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  • Mid-career teachers responsible for families of four or more in multiple states (including Arizona and North Dakota) qualify for federal aid such as the School Breakfast and Lunch Program.
  • In 11 states, more than 20% of teachers need a second job to make ends meet. In Maine, that number is as high as 25%. The report notes that in these states, “the average base salary for a teacher with 10 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree is merely $US39,673 — less than a carpenter’s national average salary.”

It’s worth noting that teachers have summers and weekends off, receive pensions and benefits, and can supplement their incomes through other work.

There are also some notable urban districts like Washington DC and Baltimore that are paying their most effective teachers six figures.

Still, society prioritizes through salaries, and this report suggests we rethink what teachers make. Otherwise a recent headline from The Onion
“High School Student, Teacher Applying For Same Summer Waitressing Job” — feels a lot less funny.