Teachers arguably play the most pivotal role in our society and get paid a fraction of what they’re worth. Now, according to new data, their earnings are decreasing even more.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that the average public teacher salary in 2021 was $65,090. This was lower than the average earning year-round workers, $75,203. There has been an 2.6% increase from 2010 to 2019, but median earnings for high school, elementary and middle school teachers slumped between 4% – 8.4%.
“Educators just want to do what is best for their students,” says LaKeisha Patterson, a reading, writing, and social studies teacher in Pasadena, Texas in an April 2022 interview with the National Education Association. “But unless better pay, respect, empathy, and support is given to educators, a mass exodus is what we should be prepared to see.”
This alarming downtrend is a heavy blow to an already shaky educator ecosystem that has shown signs of high stress and burnout since the pandemic.
“After persevering through the hardest school years in recent memory, our educators are exhausted and feeling less and less optimistic about their futures,” NEA President Becky Pringle said. “If we want to reverse course and keep qualified teachers in the classroom and caring professionals in schools—and all of us should want this—then we must increase educator pay across the board.”
Teacher salaries fluctuated over time and regionally, with Nebraska currently facing the largest reduction in pay according to a new report by scholarship sourcing platform Scholaroo. Their analysis evaluated the top 20 U.S. states with the highest salaries, ranked from highest to lowest:
- New York
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire