New study: Pa. teachers’ pay lags other college-educated workers | Monday Morning Coffee

April 29, 2019 7:02 am

Image courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Over the last four years, the weekly pay for Pennsylvania teachers has fallen 13.5 percent lower than other college-educated workers, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute.

Keystone State educators finished 12th in the national pack, according to the progressive think-tank, and in about the middle of surrounding states. Wages for teachers nationwide were lower than other college-educated workers, the report found.

Teachers in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and West Virginia, made 10.1 percent, 8.2 percent, 3.8 percent, 12.2 percent, 16.5 percent, and 18.3 percent less, respectively, than other college-educated workers, the report found.

“Providing teachers with a decent middle-class living commensurate with other professionals with similar education is not simply a matter of fairness,” the report reads. “Effective teachers are the most important school-based determinant of student educational performance. To promote children’s success in school, schools must retain credentialed teachers and ensure that teaching remains an attractive career option for college-bound students. Pay is an important component of retention and recruitment.”

The report’s release comes even as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and his allies in the General Assembly and the education community pursue legislative authorization of a bill that would raise the minimum wage for teachers from the current $18,500 to $45,000 a year.

In an op-Ed for The Capital-StarDottie Schaffer, an elementary academic and behavioral intervention specialist in the Steelton-Highspire School District in Dauphin County, wrote that she had to work two jobs to make ends meet. She called on lawmakers to pass Wolf’s teacher wage hike.

“Being an educator today is more challenging than ever. We have more continuing education requirements. We work with students who have complex needs. And we face the daunting task of keeping students safe in the classroom,” she wrote, adding that “teachers often spend their own money to buy resources their students need or to make their classrooms feel like home.”

And that means that educators’ “salaries should reflect the ever-expanding expectations that are placed on educators like me,” she wrote.

The Economic Policy Institute’s report notes that the “deepening teacher wage and compensation penalty over the recovery parallels a growing shortage of teachers. Every state headed into the 2017–2018 school year facing a teacher shortage.”

“As we have shown in our more than a decade and a half of work on the topic, relative teacher wages, as well as total compensation—compared with the wages and total compensation of other college graduates—has been eroding for over a half a century,” the report reads. “These trends influence the career choices of college students, biasing them against the teaching profession, and also make it difficult to keep current teachers in the classroom.

Our Stuff.
We round up Pennsylvania reaction to the Saturday shooting at Congregation Chabad in Poway, Calif, which came six months to the day of the deadly Tree of Life rampage in Pittsburgh.
Stephen Caruso takes a look at the role that organized labor could play in the special election in western Pennsylvania’s 11th House District.
Elizabeth Hardison looks at the escalating tensions between state officials and the beleaguered Harrisburg school district.

New Capital-Star Opinion contributor Aryanna Berringer wants Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers to keep this one thing in mind as they debate cannabis legalization.
Second Lady’ Gisele Barreto Fetterman lends her voice to our ongoing “Latinx Voices‘ series arguing that immigrants aren’t an impediment to our economy – but rather are a vital and necessary part of making it stronger.
Capital-Star Opinion contributor Dick Polman wonders whether Congressional Democrats will put country over party in the likely debate over impeachment that is to come.

Registered voters in Philadelphia think crime is the most pressing issue facing the city, followed by poverty and education, the Inquirer reports, citing a new poll the newspaper conducted with Survey USA.
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Pittsburgh today to formally kick off his 2020 candidacyThe Post-Gazette has the details.
Experts tell PennLive that a state takeover of the troubled Harrisburg city schools may not turn out the way its advocates hope it will.
Pennsylvania employers are so desperate for workers, they’re looking to jails to fill vacanciesThe Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM turns to Mayor Jim Kenney’s old ‘hood to get a sense of how the Philly mayor is faring ahead of next month’s primary election.
Wolf administration aide won’t face charges over an ethics violationStateImpact Pennsylvania reports.
explains the origins of Philadelphia’s ‘Furnace Party.’
The Incline is looking for nominees for Philadelphia’s best educators.
PoliticsPA has last week’s winners and losers in Pennsylvania politics.
This American city may give homeless residents the right to camp anywhereStateline.orgreports.
Joe Biden is a ‘wobbly’ front-runner, some Democratic activists tell Politico.
In a new podcast, Roll Call looks at the GOP’s agenda on Capitol Hill — or the lack of it.

What Goes On.
The House and Senate return to voting session today. Both chambers gavel in at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile …
10 a.m.,  Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Joint House/Senate Democratic Policy Committee hearing on cannabis legalization.
10:30 a.m., Main Rotunda: Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski and Pa. music educators hold a ‘Music in Our Schools’ Month event.
10:30 a.m., Senate Democratic Caucus Room: Pipeline Safety Caucus meets.
12 p.m., Harrisburg Hilton: Pa. Press Club luncheon with Philly Chamber boss Rob Wonderling.
1 p.m., Main Rotunda: School officials talk about more funding.
1 p.m., Capitol Steps: Humane Society lobbying day with Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers.
2:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: Art Advocacy Day
3 p.m., Ryan Building: House Republicans talk transportation funding

10 a.m,. Reception Room: First Lady Frances Wolf talks about the ‘It’s On Us PA’ initiative with college students.
11 am., Media Center: Gov. Tom Wolf, Rep. Steve McCarter and the Pa. Climate Caucus talk about environmental protection bills.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
11:30 a.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Aaron Kauffer
11:30 a.m. Reception for Rep. Tarah Toohil
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. John Hershey
5:30 pm.: Reception for Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’ll be out a mere $4,250 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to our former PennLive colleague, Jacob Klinger, who celebrates today. Congrats and enjoy the day, sir. Want to send someone a birthday wish? Email us at [email protected].

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an old favorite from Passion Pit, it’s ‘Little Secrets.

Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
What a game. What a team. Carolina roared back to score two goals in the third period to beat the New York Islanders, 2-1 at Barclay Center on Sunday. The ‘Canes lead the series 2-0, which returns to Raleigh on Wednesday.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.