- A report from the Economic Policy Institute found that, in 2019, public school teachers were paid about 20% less in weekly wages than college-educated peers.
- This was actually an improvement in the “wage penalty” from 2018.
- Notably, these numbers are from pre-coronavirus — and therefore pre-recession.
- The authors of the report highlight the loss of K-12 jobs during the pandemic, and emphasize the extra expenditures that the pandemic has required.
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A new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that public school teachers were paid about 20% less in weekly wages than college-educated peers in 2019.
The report’s authors, Sylvia Allegretto and Lawrence Mishel, call this the “teacher wage penalty” — and it’s actually gotten better since 2018. The 19.2% rate in 2019 was down from 22% in 2018.
The authors also note that this wage penalty drop comes after teacher strikes in the past year, although it’s too soon to know if those directly led to the decline.
The wage penalty is also actually worse for men than women, although women used to experience a “wage premium” — where their wages exceeded fellow female peers — in the 1960s and 1970s. They also started running against a wage penalty around 1996. While teachers do generally get better benefit packages than workers in similar positions, with benefits included they still face a “compensation gap” of 10.2%.
Teachers face a wage penalty in every single state. And, as the report emphasizes, teachers in 21 states (and the District of Columbia) face a wage penalty of more than 20%. The state with the lowest wage penalty was Wyoming, clocking in at just 2%. In Virginia, teachers make 32.7% less than their peers.
Notably, this research — and these figures — paint a picture of a pre-coronavirus economy. By May, the coronavirus recession had already “dwarfed” the Great Recession. As Reuters reported in June, hundreds of thousands of teachers had been laid off, contributing to record unemployment numbers.
According to the EPI report, while K-12 jobs rebounded a little following large declines in the spring, August 2020 employment was still 5.7% down from February — or around 462,100 jobs.
“Even if schools had their budgets from last year, it would be more than a strain to invest in the supplies, protocols, and personnel needed to effectively and safely open up amid the pandemic,” Allegretto and Mishel write.
Teachers that Insider spoke to already reported putting in extra work over the summer to adapt to remote or hybrid working.
And, as states began to face budget cuts, K-12 funding has already found itself on the chopping block in several states. One NPR piece by Cory Turner breaking down the financial situation is titled, “A Looming Financial Meltdown For America’s Schools.”
“In the last recession and recovery, reduced spending for K–12 schools and the corresponding cutbacks in teacher salaries were conscious policy choices and were frequently done to accommodate tax cuts for corporations and the rich,” Allegretto and Mishel write. “It is critically important that these policy errors not be made again.”
Gallery: 15 college presidents who’ve been paid millionaire salaries (Business Insider)
15 college presidents who’ve been paid millionaire salaries
15. Johns Hopkins University’s Ronald J. Daniels made $1,734,651 in 2017.
14. Northwestern University’s Morton O. Schapiro made $1,788,821 in 2017.
13. Auburn University’s Steven Leath made $1,836,226 in 2019. He resigned that same year.
12. George Washington University’s former President Steven Knapp made $1,945,528 in 2017. He stepped down that same year.
11. Quinnipiac University’s John L. Lahey made $2,045,417 in 2017. He retired in 2018.
10. Yeshiva University’s former President Richard M. Joel made $2,196,103 in 2017. He stepped down in 2017.
9. Savannah College of Art and Design’s President Paula Wallace made $2,196,808 in 2017.
8. Columbia’s President Lee Bollinger made $2,211,069 in 2017.
7. The University of Southern California’s former President CL Max Nikias made $2,404, 232 in 2017. He resigned in 2018.
6. Texas Christian University’s Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. made $2,644,209 in 2017.
5. Georgia State University’s President Mark P. Becker made $2,806,517 in 2019.
4. The University of Pennsylvania’s President Amy Gutmann made $2,930,315 in 2017.
3. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s President Shirley Ann Jackson made $5,155,038 in 2017.
2. Johnson and Wales University’s former Chancellor and President John J. Bowen made $5,363,616 in 2017. He retired in 2018.
1. Former Bryant University President Ronald K. Machtley made $6,283,616 in 2017. He stepped down in June 2020.