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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

What do teachers want? More

The average U.S. teacher made $59,660 in 2016-17, reports the National Education Association in its annual ranking of the states. That’s expected to rise to $60,483 in 2017-18.

Teachers earned the most in New York ($81,902), California ($79,128), and Massachusetts ($78,100) and the least in Mississippi ($42,925), Oklahoma ($45,292) and West Virginia  ($45,555).

Arizona teachers march at the Capitol in Phoenix. Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP

Demands for higher teacher pay have sparked “statewide strikes and walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and now, Arizona,” writes Catherine Gewertz in Education Week. “West Virginia teachers won a 5 percent pay increase after their nine-day strike, and Oklahoma teachers received a $6,100 salary increase.”

Arizona teachers are set to walk out today.

Union leaders want to put a tax-increase initiative on the November ballot, reports Channel 12 News. In addition to a 20 percent pay raise, teachers want “wage increases for support staff, restoration of education funding to the level it was in 2008 and no new tax cuts until the per-pupil spending reaches the national average.”

Teacher pay is declining, writes Rick Hess and Amy Cummings on RealClearPolicy. Over the past 20 years, teacher salaries fell by two percent, after inflation, yet “inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending actually grew by 27 percent from 1992 to 2014.”

In the states where teachers are angriest, spending increases haven’t gone to teachers, they write.

In Kentucky and West Virginia, over that same period, teacher pay fell by 3 percent even as real per-pupil spending increased by more than 35 percent. In Oklahoma, over that same stretch, a 26-percent increase in real per-pupil spending translated only into a 4-percent salary boost for teachers. As has been recently noted of the West Virginia teacher strike, “If teacher salaries had simply increased at the same rate as per-pupil spending, teacher salaries would have increased more than $17,000 since 1992 — to an average of more than $63,000 today.”

Teachers are pushing for higher pay and more education funding in Colorado and North Carolina, reports CNN. Utah teachers are waiting to see if a tax increase passes in November to fund schools.

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