A study that compared the average teacher salaries nationwide, between 1990 and 2010 have found that teacher salaries have remained essentially flat during the study period. In 1990 the average teacher salary was $53,028 and increased to only $54,819 in 2010, an increase of only 3.3%. By contrast, inflation rose 67% between 1990 and 2010, which should result in an average teacher salary of $88,500 dollars. Why the difference?
The answer is the demographics of the teaching profession. Back in 1990 teaching was considered a long-term professional career with the average teacher working 15 years and that there were more 20 year teachers than new teachers in the nation's public schools. However, that all changed with people like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and Eli Broad and the deep pocketed education reform organizations who demonized and blamed teachers for society's ills. The buzz word was "teacher accountability" and all students could succeed if only they had a "quality teacher" in the classroom. This resulted in States developing teacher evaluation systems, complete with "junk Science" called the Value Added Method (VAM) that was supposed to measure student growth and assign a value to a teacher's effectiveness. The VAM errors were so bad that many States are revising or abandoning their hastily developed teacher evaluation systems. Unfortunately, the damage to the education system has been already done. Teacher experience, once prized, was considered unnecessary as administrators wanted young and cheap teachers who were easier to control. In places like New York City, hiring experienced teachers came with a financial liability to the school. Many long-term teachers have resigned or took early retirement due to the added stress and unfair evaluation metrics being used to grade them. The result is an emerging teacher shortage nationwide as fewer prospective teachers are going into the profession and less teachers are staying long-term.
The chart above shows how the demographics have changed during the era of education reform. Before education reform the majority of teachers stayed for 15 years and longer and were fully vested in their students educational goals while getting a livable wage and a secure pension, Now that education reform has done its damage to the teaching profession, students are subject to high teacher turnover, an unstable school environment, and reduced educational achievement as new teachers struggle to learn and teach the curriculum. The bottom line is that the students are simply guinea pigs to untested.programs, unnecessary field tests, and a steep learning curve for the "newbie" teachers.
Is it any wonder that the average teacher salary nationwide has remained essentially unchanged? The majority of teachers are now "newbies", with one year of experience and what was once a long-term professional career has become a stepping stone, to a career outside the classroom. How that is good for student academic achievement is beyond me.