NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 24, 2007

Second only to parents, our school teachers are the people most responsible for the development of our children.  Everyone knows this, of course.  However, judging by how poorly we pay them and how hard we work them, you wouldn't think so, says the Charlotte Observer.


  • When compared with other degreed professionals, teachers had a wage disadvantage of over 14 percent in 2002, based on actual hours worked.
  • And teachers have been rapidly losing ground; between 1995 and 2005, real average pay rose in America by $4,600 per worker, but teachers got an average increase of less than $500.

This kind of anemic growth cannot even keep up with inflation. In North Carolina, for example, teachers are doing worse than most of their peers in other states.  According to the National Center for Policy Analysis:

  • Comparing compensation of teachers in 50 U.S. cities, adjusted for variances in local cost of living, secondary school teachers in Raleigh ranked 48th.
  • That means in every other city in the study except two, teachers were better off; in an underpaid profession, those in North Carolina are especially underpaid.

Further, teachers are also overworked, says the Observer. True, the job is officially seven hours a day, for nine months of the year, but when you count the true number of hours that they actually put into the job, they are comparable to any other job.

Is it any wonder that nearly half of the new teachers who step into the classroom, fresh out of college and full of enthusiasm, decide to leave the job within five years for something else that will pay them what they are really worth? All of this valuable experience is just walking away, says the Observer.  No other profession has this rate of attrition.

Source: Frank K. Koconis, "Teachers deserve more," Charlotte Observer, August 21, 2007.


Browse more articles on Education Issues