Studies Show Just How Underpaid Teachers Are

— And That’s Exactly How Republicans Want It.  Low teacher pay is on the way to becoming a crisis, as that and other attacks on the profession make teaching a less appealing career for young people.

By Laura Clawson / Daily Kos
Teachers are underpaid, say a majority of Americans … and they’re right. Two new studies give different angles on just how underpaid teachers are these days. Teacher pay has dropped since the recession, one finds, and teachers are more and more underpaid relative to other workers with similar qualifications, says the other.

Brookings fellow Michael Hansen looked into the theory that teacher pay dropped because experienced teachers retired and were replaced by younger, cheaper teachers. Not so. Not only has teacher pay declined by 2.2 percent, after adjusting for inflation, but teachers are older and more qualified than they were before the recession, with higher percentages having masters and doctoral degrees. That means pay should have gone up, creating a larger combined deficit of 3.5 percent.

That’s a drop for teachers now vs. teachers just over a decade ago. There’s an even bigger problem when you compare teachers with other college graduates, as Economic Policy Institute researchers Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel did. Looking at the period from 1996 to 2017, they find a slight drop in teacher pay while wages for other college graduates rose by more than $100 per week.

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