- The average public school teacher salary reached $66,745 in the 2021-22 school year — a 2% jump from the year before, according to a report released Monday by the National Education Association. Salaries are expected to grow by another 2.6% in 2022-23, according to NEA.
- However, when inflation is factored in, the average teacher salary actually dropped an estimated 6.4% — or $3,644 — in the past decade, NEA said.
- The report from the nation's largest teachers union also said teachers earn 25% more on average when they work in a state that permits collective bargaining. In 2021-22, the average salary for teachers covered by bargaining laws hit $71,966, compared to $57,558 in states without bargaining laws.
“Low wages and a lack of professional respect are leaving too many classrooms without teachers,” Pringle said.
Debates have continued over how to approach improving teacher pay as staff shortages persist and schools work to recover from pandemic-related learning losses.
Several cases suggest performance-based incentive programs can help boost student achievement, particularly in more disadvantaged schools. Such was the case for a Dallas Independent School District program that increased base salaries of effective teachers by up to $10,000 per year if they worked in a low-achieving school.
A study published Tuesday by the Harvard journal Education Next analyzed how Wisconsin’s 2011 passage of Act 10 impacted student performance and salaries. The state law weakened unions’ roles in negotiating teacher salaries while allowing districts to offer more flexible pay based on a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, which essentially gave district leaders the ability to detach compensation from seniority and credentials.
The study found districts that implemented flexible pay models attracted more effective teachers, but consequently, the policy reform sparked the emergence of a gender pay gap effectively penalizing women teaching in Wisconsin. Before Act 10, no gender wage gap existed under the district implementation of seniority-based salary schedules, the study said.
“The emergence of a gender wage gap following the introduction of flexible pay suggests that gender differences in teachers’ willingness to bargain or their bargaining ability could be driving part or all of it,” the study said. The gap is also more substantial in schools and districts run by men, according to the study.
Meanwhile, some members of Congress are proposing sweeping reforms to raise teachers’ base salaries nationwide. In March, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced the Pay Teachers Act of 2023, which would require states to have a minimum $60,000 starting salary for teachers. A similar bill, the American Teacher Act, was proposed earlier this year in the House by Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y..
President Joe Biden also called attention to teacher pay during his State of the Union address in February, when he said, “Let’s give public schools teachers a raise.”