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Sat Nov 25, 2023, 02:24 PM Nov 2023

The Poverty of Education When We Make Our Teachers Poor

In the richest country in the world, we can do so much better. What will it take to reverse the trend? Daily Kos, by Jacob Goodwin, Nov. 24, 2023.

Teacher shortages have been reported in all fifty states, and 86 percent of public schools are hard pressed to fill vacant teaching positions. Low pay is often cited as a cause of the shortages. Let’s put that in context. On average, teacher pay in the United States is nearly 25 percent less than what other college graduates receive, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

If you are a teacher in New Hampshire, as I am, your paycheck is nearly 30 percent less than other college graduates. Let that sink in. People who go into teaching are taking on the same level of debt as other college graduates (or more), yet they are receiving nowhere near the same financial benefits. The typical U.S. graduate with a four year degree walked away with their diploma and $29,417 in debt in 2022.

In my home state, the average debt for a bachelor’s degree topped the nation at an astounding $39,928.

Undoubtedly, this economic reality of the teaching profession is having an impact on teacher prep programs, which are seeing a drastic reduction in the number of enrollees. This in turn means fewer new teachers entering the profession. When the cost of a degree is paired with the “teacher pay penalty,” to use EPI’s terminology, the math is undeniable: politicians are shortchanging teachers.

In my more than a decade of working in public schools, I can attest to the fact that teachers are selfless. But we can only carry so much for so long. We’re only human. Teachers are being paid roughly seventy cents on the dollar for their labor. If most other jobs had this kind of wage disparity during a labor shortage, employers would increase wages to attract qualified professionals into the field. Instead, what we’re seeing are rightwing activists using fear tactics, book bans...


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