Teacher Tales of Salary, Data / Cold Hard Facts/ Are Teachers Over or Under Paid? Read and Have Your Say!!

You probably know where I am going with this blog on teacher pay.Liz

In the private sector, people with SAT and GRE scores comparable to those of education majorsearn less than teachers do. Does that mean teachers are overpaid? Or that public schools should pay more to attract top applicants who tend to go into higher-paying professions?


Outside groups enriched my teaching and my resources

Prodessional development is key!


If you saw this New York TImes piece, you probably had to reflect a bit on how teachers get compensation.

WASHINGTON — During her first six years of teaching in this city’s struggling schools, Tiffany Johnson got a series of small raises that brought her annual salary to $63,000, from about $50,000. This year, her seventh, Ms. Johnson earns $87,000.

I taught for 30 years and my compensation was so small, I won’t post it. But I will say that my rewards were from outside the system and I am highly qualifed. The first thing I learned in working the country, was NOT to talk about teacher salaries. No matter how great an idea I was pushing, I learned that this is hot button stuff.

First the article then some information.

In Washington, Large Rewards in Teacher Pay


In a new system to retain young talent, about 476 teachers received sizable bonuses this year, with 235 of them getting unusually large pay raises. Interesting article.


You will note that this blogger wrote this piece back in the fall to give a perspective on teaching and salaries.

By Andrew Otis, The Writer’s Network


Pay for teachers in the United States varies widely. The median or mean teacher salary in the U.S. varies per whichever source you decide to use. The two most reputable sources for teacher salary estimates are the US Census and the American Federation of Teachers, a US teachers union that represents most of the educators in America.

Charter vs. Public

 Charter school teachers generally have lower starting salaries than do public school teachers on average. According to the American Federation of Teachers, the average starting salary of charter school teachers in 2006 and 2007 was lower than public school teachers. Starting charter school teachers earned an average of $34,817 for their beginning salaries. In comparison, average starting salaries for public school teachers was $41,106 during this same period.

Census.gov Estimates

According to Census.gov, the US census website, the average pay for classroom teachers in 2009 was $52,900. The PDF for this data was created in 2011.

Teacher pay has increased dramatically over time. Census.gov has evaluated teacher pay and found that it has increased on average from $23,587 in 1985, $37,264 in 1995, $45,884 in 2005 and $52,900 in 2009. So, not accounting for inflation, classroom teacher pay has almost doubled in 25 years. Meanwhile, salaries for principals and administrators have almost tripled in some cases. Superintendents who made on average $56,954 in 1985 now make $155,634 on average as of 2009.

American Federation of Teachers

The American Federation of Teachers, a teachers union that represents many teachers throughout the US, posted its own teacher salary estimates in 2007. The American Federation of Teachers estimates that after “15 years of relative stagnation” in teacher pay, teacher salaries have been on the rise during the first half of the last decade. The mean teacher salary, according to the American Federation of Teachers during 2006 to 2007 was $51,009. Salaries have generally remained frozen during the current financial recession.

High Paying State and Low Paying States

Teacher pay, as mentioned earlier, varies a lot depending on which state you teach in. California ranks number 1 in teacher pay with an average pay of $63,640. South Dakota ranks number 50 in average teacher pay with an abysmal $35,378.

High School vs Middle School vs. Elementary School Pay

The data on average teacher salary comparisons between high school teachers, middle school teachers and elementary school teachers is spotty at best. One website, payscale.com, estimates that high school teachers have the highest salaries of the three on average, followed by middle school teachers and finally elementary school teachers. According to them, high school teachers are paid an average $43,386, middle school teachers $41,762 and elementary school teachers $40,060. These data are significantly lower than those reported by the American Federation of Teachers or the US census, so take the results with a grain of salt. The most important pattern to understand here is that high school teachers have the highest salaries on average, followed by middle school teachers and finally elementary school teachers. However, the pay differences are not terribly significant on the whole.

Another report on teacher salary with recognition of variables around pay by region. here

The profession is notorious for losing thousands of its brightest young teachers within a few years, which many experts attribute to low starting salaries and a traditional step-raise structure that rewards years of service and academic degrees rather than success in the classroom. They don’t talk about the politics of place, the ideational scaffolding within a system, and the fact that teachers who move to another state may find that they are not eligible to teach in another state. So they go.

Another discussion will take you to the point where you are told that anyone can teach and that retirees from other walks of life are better teachers.

Tom Carroll at the Wireless Workshop talked about how there are many artisanal teachers , when what we need is a process to create, support and inform teachers to be the best they can be. Here is some of his groups work.
Who Will Teach? Experience Matters (January 2010): Full Report
Between 2004 and 2008, 300,000 veteran teachers left the workforce for retirement. Baby Boom teachers who made lifelong commitments to education are retiring, and in many cases are taking their hard-earned wisdom with them. Why can’t we just recruit our way out of this challenge? Because the rate at which new teachers leave has been increasing steadily over the last 15 years.
For other “Who Will Teach?” Resources click here.

The Next Generation of Learning Teams (October 2009):
Phi Delta Kappan cover story by Tom Carroll.

Learning Teams: Creating What’s Next (April 2009): Full Report
Snapshot of State-by-State Demographics of the Teaching Workforce: Report Appendix
According to new NCTAF research, and a national survey of teachers and principals, the nation stands to lose half of its teachers to retirement over the next decade. The report finds that over 50 percent of the nation’s principals and teachers are Baby Boomers. To avoid a potential school staffing crisis, NCTAF recommends the concept of Cross-Generational Learning Teams, in which experienced veterans could stay in teaching longer by working with new teachers, providing mentoring, coaching and instructional assistance that will help to improve student performance and reduce attrition rates for new teachers.

Interesting Infographic on what the public thinks.

And what do you think?