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Fifty Percent of Teachers say, ‘Salary is Not Enough to Sustain Them Long-Term’

Nearly 1 in 5 teachers have to work second jobs.

The Teacher Salary Project surveyed 1100+ teachers nationally, with an oversample of recognized teachers (e.g., State Teachers of the Year -STOYs, Nationally Board Certified Teachers – NBCTs, Teach Plus Fellows, and others) and found:

  • Nearly half of the surveyed teachers say their salary was not sufficient to sustain them in teaching for the medium-to-long term (two-thirds when teachers who weren’t sure if they could continue teaching on their salary are included). 

  • 82% of respondents currently or previously worked multiple jobs to make ends meet as a teacher.
  • Only one-fifth of teachers of color surveyed report they can continue teaching longer-term on their salary. 
  • 9 in 10 respondents believe salaries contribute greatly or somewhat to existing teacher shortages in their local area.
  • Two-thirds believe federal relief funds should be directed, at least in part, toward improved teacher salaries.

Teacher salary Project - Jacqueline Rodriguez, Ph.D.This follows on the bold statement by our First Lady Dr. Jill Biden a couple weeks ago that teacher pay must improve, it starts at the top, and ARP funds should be used to make it happen. AACTE’s Vice President for Research, Policy, Advocacy Jacqueline Rodriguez, also spoke out in support of increased teacher salaries through the Teacher Salary Project’s campaign.

With 71% of the public reporting that teacher pay is too low, recent Frontline & EdWeek data showing teacher shortages in one-half to two-thirds of districts, POTUS emphasizing that “Teachers need a raise; not just praise,” Secretary Cardona highlighting teachers 2nd and 3rd jobs on the Today Show, and, now the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden calling for leaders at the top to prioritize investing in higher teacher salaries, the time is now to spark the conversations and leadership on teacher pay that we all know is necessary. 

As we consider how to support teachers of color, it is deeply troubling that teacher salaries are barriers to staying in the profession. “I’ve definitely held off on starting a family due to my salary. I’m a homeowner but would definitely need a second job if I didn’t have roommates. It is sometimes hard to watch friends leave the classroom for starting salaries nearly,” said one award winning male teacher of color. When teachers were asked to identify major barriers to increasing teacher salaries, a lack of leadership from policymakers and public awareness were considered significant barriers. The table below explores six different barriers to increasing teacher pay.

Given that awareness, support, and leadership are all significantly influencing teacher pay, we need your advocacy!  Please help the Teacher Salary Project and AACTE by amplifying the report on social media tagging @teachersalary and @aacte. Have your candidates read the Teacher Salary Project report and make action plans to elevate the findings to policymakers at the local and state levels. Engage with your superintendent’s office, your state legislature’s office, and your federal elected leaders. Reach out to AACTE if you’d like to discuss taking further action. 

 Download the report. 

 Ellen Sherratt is Board President, The Teacher Salary Project and Jacqueline Rodriguez is AACTE’s vice president of research, policy, and advocacy. 

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Jacqueline Rodriguez

Jacqueline Rodriguez

Vice President, Research, Policy, and Advocacy, AACTE