Commentary

Graph shows why teachers are rightfully ticked off — especially in NC

A new “economic snapshot” from experts at the Economic Policy Institute makes clear why public school teachers — especially in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and North Carolina — are ticked off about their pay. Here is an excerpt and the graph that sums things up:

Teachers have finally had enough. Why? Because teachers across the country have watched their states make dramatic cuts to investments in schools, students, and teachers—often while those same states implement tax breaks for individuals and corporations.

Teachers are concerned with a range of issues, from books and supplies to safe buildings. And they are burdened by growing pay inequities. Over the last two decades, teachers are contributing more and more toward health care and retirement costs as their pay falls further behind. Teacher pay (accounting for inflation) actually fell by $30 per week from 1996 to 2015, while pay for other college graduates increased by $124. In short, the teacher pay gap—the difference between what teachers earn in weekly wages compared with similarly educated and experienced workers—has widened significantly. Even when accounting for benefits, the teacher compensation gap increased by 9 percentage points, to 11.1 percent over that same time frame.

Teacher pay gaps vary considerably across the United States as indicated in the figure. The figure below shows within-state ratios of public school teachers to other college graduates. The ratio for the overall United States is 0.77, meaning that, on average, teachers earn just 77 percent of what other college graduates earn in weekly wages. Arizona (0.63) has the lowest ratio (the largest pay gap), while Wyoming (0.99) has the highest ratio (the smallest pay gap).

In case it’s not clear, the graph shows that North Carolina teachers get paid just 65.4% of what other college graduates in the state are bringing home. Click here to read the entire article.

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