- June 21 - Raising teacher salaries will be necessary to stem a serious teacher
shortage caused in large part by a red-hot job market offering lucrative salaries
to college graduates, the American Federation of Teachers said today in releasing
its 1997-98 teacher salary survey.
"To attract college
graduates to teaching, salaries must keep pace with other professions that are
luring people away from the classroom. Teaching is enormously gratifying, and
many more would make it their career choice if they felt they were treated like
professionals," said AFT President Sandra Feldman. Along with higher salaries,
she said schools must also reduce class sizes, enforce a strict discipline policy,
modernize school buildings, and make other improvements to attract and retain
The U.S. Department of Education
has estimated that 2 million teachers will need to be hired over the next decade.
According to the AFT report, the chief reasons for the teacher shortage include
inferior salaries, a rapidly graying teaching force and increasing enrollments
due to the so-called "baby boomlet."
The national average
beginning teacher salary in the 1997-98 school year was $25,735. By contrast,
new college graduates in 1998 received an average salary offer in other fields
of more than $35,000. For example, in engineering, offers averaged $42,862; computer
science, $40,920; math or statistics, $40,523; chemistry, $36,036; business administration,
$34,831; accounting, $33,702; and sales/marketing, $33,252.
The national average
teacher salary in the 1997-98 school year was $39,347. By contrast, the 1998
average annual salary of other white-collar occupations was much higher. For example,
attorneys earned $71,530; engineers, $64,489; computer systems analysts, $63,072;
buyer/contract specialists, $54,625; and accountants, $45,919.
In the early 1990s, corporate
downsizing contributed to a poor job market for new college graduates and new
teacher salaries increased at two or three times the rate of other salary offers
for new college graduates, according to the salary report. But starting in 1995,
unemployment fell, the labor market for new college graduates grew, and salary
offers in the private sector grew at twice the rate as those for new teachers.
As part of the salary report,
AFT surveyed personnel officers of the nations 200 largest school districts.
Among the findings:
- A teacher shortage clearly
exists, especially in large urban districts. More than two-thirds of respondents
indicated an insufficient supply of teacher applicants in 1998-99.
- School districts were adopting
a variety of responses to the shortage, including providing signing bonuses and
housing allowances and issuing emergency teaching credentials.
- Respondents said they had
more difficulty attracting qualified teachers compared to four years ago.
- The shortage is particularly
severe for math, special education and bilingual education teachers. Districts
also noted shortages of teachers in the following fields: foreign language, science,
computers, school psychologists, and occupational and physical therapists. No
field of teaching rated in the category of "considerable surplus," although
a sufficient number of elementary and social studies teachers was noted.
- School districts reported
that 8.5 percent of teachers taught under temporary or emergency credentials in
1998-99, up from 8 percent in 1997-98. Last year, the AFT called for a moratorium
on emergency credentials for teachers. As part of the current reauthorization
of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Clinton administration also
has pushed states to end emergency teacher credentials, proposing that within
four years, 95 percent of all teachers in a state would have to be fully certified
or working toward obtaining certification within three years.
Other highlights of the
AFT 1997-98 salary survey:
- The $39,347 average teacher
salary is a 2.4 percent increase over the 1996-97 average salary of $37,594.
- The $25,735 average beginning
teacher salary is a 2.9 percent increase over the 1996-97 beginning salary of
- The five states with the
highest average salaries: Connecticut ($51,727); New Jersey ($50,284);
New York ($48,712); Michigan ($48,361); and Alaska ($48,275). The five states
with the lowest average salaries: New Mexico ($30,309); Louisiana ($30,090);
Mississippi ($28,691); North Dakota ($28,231); and South Dakota ($27,839).
- Teachers had an average
16.1 years of experience in 1997-98, just over five more years than in 1978.
(Sources for the AFTs
salary survey include state departments of education and the Department of Defense
survey of teacher salaries.)
(To obtain a copy of the
complete report, Survey & Analysis of Salary Trends 1998, contact the
AFT Research Department at 202-879-4428.)
I - Average Teacher Salary in 1997-98: State Rankings
II - Trends in the Average Salary, 1995-96 to 1997-98
III - Actual Average Beginning BA Teacher Salaries, 1996-97 and 1997-98
IV - Average Teacher Salaries for 1987-88 and 1997-98
- Average Teacher Salary in 1998 Falls Short of Earnings in Other Professions,
New Teacher Salaries Lag Behind Beginning Salaries in Other Occupations
The AFT represents more than
one million teachers, school support staff, higher education faculty, nurses and
other healthcare professionals, and state and local government employees.