(The Center Square) — Teacher compensation across Pennsylvania grew over the past decade, despite claims from officials that low salaries and high stress have scared educators from the state in droves.

The data, gleaned from a recent report from the National Education Association — one of the country’s largest labor unions — found that teachers in Pennsylvania earned an average of $73,072 during the 2021–22 school year — the eleventh highest rate in the nation.

That’s roughly 9.5 percent higher than the national average and 24 percent higher than teacher salaries were in Pennsylvania in 2010.

At the same time, data compiled by the association shows a slight increase in the number of public school teachers working in Pennsylvania between 2020 and 2022 — from 120,717 to 120,981. 

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The figures contradict an analysis published by Penn State’s Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. The report found that teacher attrition continues its upward trajectory, rising from 6.2 percent to 7.7 percent over the past year, reaching an all-time high over the last decade.

Lawmakers point to the Penn State study when describing their support for bills moving through the legislature to create three-year tax credits for new teachers, nurses, and law enforcement officers. Critics argue that the legislation picks winners over losers and does little to fix the problem in the long term.

Other legislation would create scholarship programs, training stipends, and expanded worker protections. This, after advocates blamed chronic stress, short staffing, dwindling resources, and burnout as contributing factors to the state’s labor crisis.

The Pennsylvania State Education Association, which represents 178,000 educators across the state, said some teachers in Pennsylvania make just $18,500 annually, and nearly 2,700 earn less than $45,000. That’s about two percent of the nearly 121,000 teachers working in the state last year.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

Originally from Oklahoma, Elyse Apel lives in Michigan with her husband. Her writing has been published around the country in a wide variety of publications from the Washington Examiner to the American Spectator and the Political Insider.

10 thoughts on “National labor union data contradicts teacher exodus claims”

  1. I know B and L loves to dump all over public schools and public school teachers, but the reality is that this is an important job with a lower than average STARTING salary. Chesco is (I believe) the richest county in the state and the starting teacher salary in most districts in around 50k. That’s low compared to other fields that also require a bachelor’s degree. There’s districts in this state that only start in the mid-30s. Pretty low for the abuse from parents teachers are taking these days.

    1. I dont think anyone is dumping on teachers.

      There should be a clear distinction between teachers, school boards, elected officials at the state and federal level, and appointed bureaucrats.

      Teachers aren’t to be blamed. The people who complicate their jobs with politics for personal power, the people who create needless roadblocks in their profession, and the people that create rigid structure in systems that need to be flexible to different populations of learners – they are the problems.

        1. Are you serious? Retired secondary school educator here and let’s begin with district mandated and enforced minimum recorded and official grades. Regardless of actual earned points in academic quarters and semesters, no student in Philadelphia high schools are given grades lower than 50 in official reports and records.

          1. What I thought was meant was needless Road blocks to entering the profession. I was also a teacher; I am aware of grade shenanigans like I speak of. Part of why teachers should make MORE

    2. 1. The average starting salary for bachelor degree holders in the U.S. varies depending on the source and the year of the data. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average starting salary for 2020 graduates with a bachelor’s degree was $55,260. (Forbes.com) However, another report by NACE showed that the average starting salary for recent college graduates in the U.S. was $50,944. (Shrm.org) A third source estimated the average annual pay for the Bachelors Degree jobs category in the U.S. to be $52,088 in 2023. (ziprecruiter.com)
      2. “Only ten percent of districts pay a starting salary of at least $50,000. Starting salaries are below $30,000 in 222 school districts. At 2.3%, the average increase in starting teacher salaries equaled the rate of inflation. After adjusting for inflation, real starting teacher salaries in the US have decreased by 2.6% over the past decade. (NEA.org)”
      3. In fact, Chesco’s staring salary for beginner teachers is not low compared to other fields that also require a bachelor’s degree, and it is very high compared to other districts. There’s??? There are… and I am not a teacher. My guess is 18% of teachers are great, some are decent, and a third are bad at their jobs – just like every industry. It took me less than 5 minutes to look up the info in my first two paragraphs.

  2. Good teachers should make more. Bad teachers should make less and be fired.

    There are a lot of really good teachers and some who are awful. Unfortunately, the bad ones can do a lot more damage to learners and to the reputation of professional teachers.

  3. Teachers aren’t just leaving because of pay. It’s also because of far-right ideologues hijacking school board meetings and sending death threats to its members in order to inject their radical political ideologies and censor what teachers can say. (If you don’t believe me, look it up for yourself.)

    Look at the teachers all across the nation who have been fired for the crime of acknowledging that gay people exist or that not everyone has the same views on gender as their parents. The right has made teaching into a mine field where you never know if something you say will get you fired.

    1. Yeah, right-wing school boards are why teachers are quitting in Philly. Thanks for the usual deep insight, Cicero.

  4. Those far right ideologues saying its inappropriate to promote pornography or have some dim witted self proclaimed activist teacher tell their impressionable 7 year old about “gender” is crazy to you? Thanks for the thoughtful objective comments as usual.

    Teachers are quitting for many reasons. Among them – school boards, lawyers, teachers unions at the political level are making decisions to say yes at the teachers expense. Saying it’s more money needed isn’t helping.

    $27k+ to teach special needs kids who are not developmentally challenged but instead have shitty parents, culture, and a society that gives them a pass for their behavior. This scenario wears at the best teachers.
    Classrooms and kids are out of control. The left, Parents and society do not hold people accountable for their behavior.

    Teachers have dug in and dug deep, but they can’t fix shitty people.

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