Ellen Sheratt, The Teacher Salary Project: How to Support Higher Teacher Salaries

Ellen Sheratt, The Teacher Salary Project: How to Support Higher Teacher Salaries

Originally published in Equity & Access

As the 2022-23 school year continues, students, teachers and families continue to face tremendous uncertainty; but they also face significant hope that the many tragedies of the past few years – Covid, George Floyd, the insurrection, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to name a few – will lead to a better, more equitable, safe, and thoughtful future.

Whatever your role, you can contribute to this sense of hope and one meaningful way to do it is to show your commitment to supporting teachers’ well-being by voicing your support for professional teacher salaries. Teachers’ well-being directly translates to the well-being of the students in their classroom.

When teachers are burnt out and overly stressed, struggling to pay for basic needs and their time pulled in too many directions, they are not able to give students the individual learning or emotional support they would like to, and everyone – the students, parents, teachers, and society – suffers.

Today’s teacher salaries too often create just this scenario of burnout and financial stress. There is a 19.2% teacher wage penalty that has steadily increased over time (Economic Policy Institute, 2020). In dollar terms, this translates to teachers earning a maximum of less than $60,000 in about one-quarter of U.S. school districts; it is impossible to ever earn $100,000 in 90% of districts (National Education Association, 2021). Not surprisingly, 74% of teachers do not think their salary is fair for the work that they do (Merrimack College, 2022).

Only 12% of teachers are very satisfied with their  jobs, the lowest level since the mid-1980s (Merrimack College, 2022). A chorus of support for higher teacher salaries, followed of course by action, could change this. Not sure where to start?

  • Call your local and state elected leaders today to urge them to increase teacher salaries
  • Begin a conversation with others in your circle to start brainstorming collective actions you might take to increase teacher salaries
  • Amplify the call for professional teacher salary levels on social media and write an article for your local paper
  • Sign on to The Teacher Salary Project’s Teacher Salary Champion campaign and share the message widely