Low teacher salaries often are linked to high turnover or teacher shortages, writes Marguerite Roza on Brookings’ Chalkboard. Districts make the problem worse by steering pay to high-seniority teachers nearing the end of their careers.
Young and mid-career teachers — the ones most likely to leave — earn less so senior teachers can earn more.
Teaching doesn’t resemble other professions, her study finds. “Other professionals (lawyers, doctors, accountants, computer programmers) reach their peak salaries around age 40; teachers enter their 40s with much lower earnings on average and don’t hit peak earnings until age 55 or so.”
Most teachers still earn “step” increases for experience and “bumps” for graduate credits, Roza writes. “In some districts, the differential is so high that a senior teacher earns the equivalent salary of two junior teachers for the same job title and duties.”
Annual cost of living increases (COLAs) often exacerbate salary differences between early-career and late-career teachers.