$60,000 teacher minimum wage not the best solution: expert


“Let’s give public school teachers a raise,” President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address on February 7.

Other Democrats drummed in, even proposing a national minimum salary for educators of $60,000.

The idea has gained support from education advocates. But even those who advocate increasing teacher compensation believe that a national minimum for teachers is not the right approach and can have serious unintended consequences.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) and Rep. Jamal Bowman (D-New York) introduced the U.S. Teachers Act on February 9. It helps schools provide public school teachers with a minimum annual salary of $60,000.

The bill was co-sponsored by 46 House Democrats.

Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 27, 2021. (Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images)

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced at a press conference on February 13 that he would introduce equivalent legislation in the Senate. Sanders has proposed funding the measure by raising taxes on those who inherit more than $3.5 million. He said the move would earn him $450 billion in 10 years.

“The situation is so ridiculous that the top 15 hedge fund managers on Wall Street make more money in a year than the more than 120,000 kindergarten teachers in America,” Sanders said. increase. “The engine is on fire. Please call 911.”

The general public seems to agree. His 2022 poll by EducationNext found that he, 71% of respondents, think school teachers should be paid more.

However, when asked about the average salaries of state teachers, the percentage drops to 60%, indicating at least some degree of inconsistency on the subject.


According to Sanders, 40% of teachers in American school districts make less than $40,000 a year as starting salaries. However, these school districts typically have less than her 1,000 enrolled students and few teachers.

For example, an Iowa school district has a starting salary of $33,500, paid to only one of the ten teachers of the district’s 175 students.

About 27% of school districts nationwide enroll fewer than 600 students, according to the 2015 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Meanwhile, the nation’s largest school district of 500 employs 40% of the country’s teachers. And these districts tend to pay much higher salaries than smaller rural districts.

New York City public schools offered starting salaries for first-year teachers with no experience ranging from $61,070 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree to $68,252 for teachers with a master’s degree for the 2020-2021 school year.

Starting salaries in other major cities are comparable.

Epoch Times photo
Prepper Classroom host TJ Morris speaking at the Self Reliance Festival June 12, 2022 in Camden, Tennessee. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/Epoch Times)

Los Angeles County school teachers were eligible to receive a starting salary of $53,119 for the 2021-2022 school year with no experience.

First-year teacher salaries in Atlanta started at $51,048 for the 2022-2023 school year. Starting salaries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area ranged from $57,400 for him to $62,000 for him, depending on school district.

New Mexico is last rated for education by US News and World Report and has a minimum teacher salary of $50,000 to $70,000 per year, depending on license.

In some large school districts, the top wage for highly qualified and experienced teachers is well over $100,000 per year. Nearly 20% of New York teachers earn her six-figure income, according to the Empire Center.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for elementary and middle school teachers in the United States is $69,810 annually. This is about the same for aviation mechanics, insurance agents, and video and film editors.

However, the average varies by state and district.

Mississippi teachers with the highest qualifications and 32 years of experience earn less than the national average salary.

The average teacher salary in Indiana is $53,997 and in Iowa $41,113. The average salary for a teacher in Oklahoma is $43,238.

Also, other professions have not caught up.

After inflation from the start of the Great Recession through 2018, teacher salaries fell 2.2%, according to Michael Hansen, senior fellow at the Brown Center for Education Policy at Brookings.

In the meantime, the actual wage loss is about 3.5%, Hansen said, taking into account the increased experience and qualifications of teachers.

a targeted approach

Teacher compensation should increase, Hansen said, but a more targeted approach would be more effective.

“I think it’s important to raise salaries for teachers in general,” Hansen told the Epoch Times. not.”

One problem with implementing a national minimum is that the cost of living varies from community to community. And while many states consistently raise teacher salaries, others choose not to.

“So the question is, is the federal government creating perverse incentives by giving the biggest rewards to states that haven’t invested enough in education for a long time?”

Aside from difficult policy issues, Hansen believes that improving teacher salaries should target the specific needs of the education system.

Epoch Times photo
Group of students in a science class laboratory. (Shutterstock)

Hansen said teachers need to be paid more in hard-to-staff environments, such as schools serving students from poor backgrounds, typically in urban and rural areas.

He said those who teach STEM subjects and special education and are qualified to teach English learners should be paid better.

Citing a range of indicators for evaluating teachers, including student test scores, observation of teaching, communication with parents, and even arriving on time, Hansen said he would rank “the best performing teachers.” I think they should be rewarded,” he said.

Citing a recent study of school districts in Washington, Dallas and Tennessee, Hansen said schools that have consistently rewarded teachers based on job quality will maintain educational goals during COVID-19. said it was better in terms of

“These are some of the places associated with the smallest COVID [learning] loss. They also stand out from the crowd in prioritizing the quality of their teachers over other considerations. ”

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