Report Highlights ‘Paltry Pay' for Mid-Level Teachers

Teacher pay is not a new topic, but a new report by the Center for American Progress zeroes in on how little they get late in their careers.

The report outlines the average base salary in each state, the highest possible step on the salary schedule and percentage of teachers who have outside jobs.

While California has one of the higher average salaries for teachers at $51,400, the report pointed out that amount isn’t competitive when considering the high cost of living in the Golden State.

“…This salary is unsustainable in California’s major metropolitan cities. California teachers, including those at the highest step of the pay scale, have low purchasing power when it comes to feasibly affording a home in urban areas,” the report said.

Teacher salaries have long been debated. Many proponents argue that teachers should be compensated for their merit rather than tenure, with teacher unions traditionally oppose that viewpoint.

California’s salary average tops those salaries in states in the south, such as Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the Mid West.

New England states, however, had higher salaries on average than California. For instance, Rhode Island’s average teacher salary is $78,200.

Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of the report, suspects it’s because Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island are in a concentrated urban setting – whereas California includes rural areas.

Still, California teachers aren’t in as much need for an outside income, the report indicates.

“What is notable about California is that you have fewer teachers with outside jobs than the national average,” Boser said.

That amount is 12 percent, according to the report.

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