In 1970 in New York City, starting lawyers in the city only made $2,000 more than teachers going into public education. Today, that starting lawyer makes $160,000, while starting teachers in New York make roughly $45,000.
If teacher pay had risen in proportion to per-pupil spending since 1970, that teacher would be making more than $120,000 today, the Teacher Salary Project reports.
According to Business Insider, the US ranks about seventh in the world for average teacher pay.
“At the top of the payscale, a US elementary school teacher makes $67,000 a year, and a US high school teacher makes $71,000 a year on average,” write Shayanne Gal , Marissa Perino , and Leanna Garfield. “Compare this to Luxembourg, the No. 1 country for teacher salary, where elementary school educators make up to $124,000 a year on average, and high school teachers make $138,000 a year.
“Other countries that beat the US in teacher pay include Switzerland, South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and for elementary school teachers, Ireland.”
Finding supplementary income is a must for some teachers, especially younger ones. As the NEA reports, around 16% of teachers hold a second job over the summer, and 20% of them hold a second job year-round. Counting second jobs within the school system, such as coaching, teaching evening classes, or directing shows, this number rises to 59% of all teachers holding a second job.
Colorado teacher Krista Degerness worked between 40 and 70 hours every week during the summer of 2017 and 15 to 25 hours a week at her second job during the school year, she told the NEA.
“We work second jobs because our salaries alone are not sufficient to pay our bills, let alone save for the future,” Degerness said.
These struggles are causing good teachers to leave the profession in droves. According to the Teacher Salary Project, 14% of teachers leave the profession each year, and at a rate of 20% in urban districts.
This puts the education of future generations in great peril.
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