I want to give you some statistics from a new report from my union, the American Federation of Teachers. In 2005 the inflation rate was 3.4 percent. A worker would need an increase in pay of that much in order to have the same buying power as the year before. The average increase in teacher pay in America in 2005 was 2.2 percent. Beginning teacher salary lagged inflation as well. The whole profession lost buying power. And data from the 50 largest cities in America for 2006 doesn’t look much better. Teachers, like many other American workers, aren’t sharing in the so-called economic recovery
Teaching was never the highest paid job, but over the last several years growth in pay has lagged when compared to other professions. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps track of a set of jobs that require a similar level of higher education. In 2000, teachers were paid less than the average for these professions. And over the five years 2000-2005 teachers had a real increase in buying power of 1 percent. The average increase in the other professions was more than 6 percent.
When compared to private sector pay generally, teacher pay again is coming up short. In 1995, the average teacher salary was worth 35 percent more than the average salary in the private sector (that’s the salary of everyone who qualifies for unemployment insurance, from lawyers to fry cooks). In 2005 it was just 18 percent higher. At this rate, teaching won’t just be a low paid profession; it will be low paid work. We’ve got a post up about this at our blog Let’s Get It Right, (note the name of our blog is a critique of No Child Left Behind rather than a call to conservatism). We hope you’ll check it out. In addition to more stats, we asked some teachers who blog to address the question of how the state of teacher pay has affected their life. The statistics matter, but blogs let you make it personal and real. One quick taste (courtesy of the blogger Dr. Homeslice):
...I understand that teaching is my calling, even if it won' t make me a millionaire. Like I said, I'm not here for the money. Truly dedicated teachers know that they're not walking into a wad of cash when they become a teacher, but our raises should keep pace with inflation, not lose ground to it. We need to be able to attract quality teachers who understand that while they won't be on Mtv's Cribs, they won't have to start going on food stamps and the like while they're teaching.
And from a teacher who goes by the handle The Rain:
I can't help but wonder why I have to leave my daughter early and get home late so that we can stay even.
We’ve read Daily Kos for a long time and we checked out YKos in Vegas. But it’s only in the last couple of months, when Teacher Ken helped us with a project on school contstruction, that we’ve really seen what this community can do. We hope to be seeing at least some of you in Chicago.
For those of you who don’t know us, the American Federation of Teachers is a union that represents 1.3 million workers in education, healthcare and other public services. We’re a part of the AFL-CIO. Our blog has been around for a bit more than a year, and in addition to covering No Child Left Behind specifically, it looks at education and labor issues generally. Come visit, and if you are a teacher or school employee who blogs, plesae do what you can to keep this conversation going.
Also, my fellow bogger Ed, who helped write this year's report will be checking out the comment section.