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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

School funding is up a lot, but teacher pay is not



Public school spending rose by 25 percent per student in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2002 to 2020, reports the Reason Foundation. Teacher pay declined by 0.6 percent.


Chad Aldeman explains where the money is going. New spending is being used to hire more non-teaching staff and cover rising benefit costs (especially pensions), he writes. It's not providing a bonus for that hard-to-find physics, math or special-ed teacher.


  • In New York, per-pupil spending rose 70% but teacher salaries rose just 16%

  • In Illinois, per-pupil spending rose 55% but teacher salaries fell by 5%

  • In Pennsylvania, per-pupil spending rose 49% as salaries fell 4%


In the State of the Union address this year (and last year), President Biden said he wants “to give public school teachers a raise.” It got lots of applause, notes Aldeman.


But the federal government has nothing to do with teacher salaries.


I think schools have to improve working conditions for teachers to keep them in the classroom. If the job is frustrating and dangerous, paying a little more won't be the answer.

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13 Comments


humphrey
Mar 16

r/Teachers is pretty eye-opening. Apparently there is a whole crop of parents who have expressed surprise when they find out the public schools aren't going to toilet-train their kindergartners.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Mar 15

Improving compensation conditions was a major hope for our teachers' rebellion at Locke High School in 2007, but once the Green Dot California charter management organization took over, its executives formed a cartel exactly like that of the Los Angeles Unified School District, so brave teachers were cast aside in favour of the business politicians' career interests, an instance of professional corruption all too common in the United States.

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bkwormtoo
Mar 15

I could be wrong, but seeing charts of the number of teachers per student and administrators per student might show part of PS' problems. Throw in politicians, school admins, and activists who undermine teachers' safety and authority. Throw in parents who attack teachers who try to discipline their "angels" and do not teach their children the value of education. The NEA and AFT have not exactly covered themselves in glory, for several decades. Not all politicians, school admins, parents, and activists do this, but it does not take all of these to make being a school teacher a difficult job. My wife and I homeschooled our kids "K-12", but we respect teachers who do their jobs as best they can.

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Darren Miller
Darren Miller
Mar 14

Richard Rider and m_t_anderson should spend five minutes, just five minutes, on the TeacherMisery Instagram site. As a public school math teacher I agree that our education system, at least here in California, is a shambles, so there's plenty of blame to spread around. I'm not going to have teachers shoulder all of that blame, or even most of it. It's not teachers who want to lower academic and behavioral standards....


BTW, I support school choice. As I've long said, "Universal public education is sacred. Public schools are not."

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m_t_anderson
Mar 17
Replying to

I taught undergrad computer science and statistics for over 30 years, and every single year I told my students they had been cheated of a decent education by their public schools. For every student whose talent had been nurtured, there were dozens who'd been jollied along through the pipeline, conned into believing they were were not credentialed dummies. There are few heroes in this story, and far too many villains.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Mar 14

Since there is ZERO nexus between public school teacher pay and student achievement, I see no reason to boost their pay even further. In most states, teachers are well paid for the 8 months a year that they work (everyone else works 11 months). That being said, the dramatic increase in per student spending is totally unjustified -- whether it goes to teachers or bureaucracy. Universal school choice -- the closest thing to a magic bullet available to fix K-12 education. Not perfect, but it damn sure beasts what we have today.

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superdestroyer
Mar 17
Replying to

One may want to review Richard Reeves work on wanting to increase the number of male teachers. Teaching being a low paid job means that fewer men are willing to do it even though research shows that young boys do better if they have a male teacher in the K-3 grades.

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