November 3, 2023

Andy Spears: What Happens When Teachers Aren’t Valued?

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Andy Spears notes that low pay does not help attract or retain teachers.

recent message from Save Our Schools Arizona highlights the teacher compensation crisis:

Arizona’s teacher pay gap is the 49th largest in the nation, behind only Colorado,  according to a recent analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. In 2022 Arizona teachers earned 33% less than their peers in comparable professions. This is the worst gap since 1960, and fully one-third less than other college-educated workers.

SOS notes that there’s a direct correlation between Arizona’s state of teacher pay and the number of qualified teachers in classrooms:

The Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association reported in September that nearly 6,000 Arizona classrooms serving more than 150,000 kids lack a qualified teacher.

This should NOT be a surprise.

Years of undervaluing teacher pay have led to a crisis. Now, people aren’t taking teaching jobs, teachers are leaving, and college students aren’t exactly clamoring to get into the profession.

The director of teacher education at OCU has an explanation:

“More than anything, economics plays into it, right? Students don’t want to take on debt into a profession that when I get a four-year degree that I’m going to have to pay loans when I barely make enough to live and that’s where we are with the education profession,” she said.

Alternatively, when one district dramatically raised teacher pay, look what happened:

After announcing the salary schedule change, we had pools of qualified applicants to consider. It was a fun spring. Our administrators were having to have these rich conversations about best fit, really digging into things like, ‘Here’s a full table of highly qualified people; who is going to best fulfill the needs of our school? It’s a conversation that most districts don’t get to have right now.

Read the full piece here. 

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