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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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