It comes courtesy of my friends at the Teacher Salary Project (on whose advisory board I sit). And it should make all of us embarrassed and unsatisfied.
Kory is a full-time public school teacher in San Francisco. She’s also a mom struggling to pay her bills, which means that in her spare time she drives a car for Lyft.
There are a lot of teachers like Kory, which should constitute its own national crisis.
Hire a Czar.
Call in the National Guard.
Declare a state of emergency.
And yet . . .
Consider this: if teacher pay had risen in proportion to per-pupil spending since 1970, the average teacher would make more than $120,000 today. Yet today the average starting salary for teachers in our country is $39,000.
The average ending salary—after 25 years in the profession? $67,000.
And here’s the thing: this is not a difficult problem to solve — it all comes down to what we value. Outgoing education secretary Arne Duncan said as much last week, when, as part of a larger condemnation of our racist adult imprisonment and student disciplinary policies, Duncan proposed the following:
If our states and localities took just half the people convicted of nonviolent crimes and found paths for them other than incarceration, they would save upwards of $15 billion a year. If they reinvested that money into paying the teachers who are working in our highest-need schools and communities—they could provide a 50 percent average salary increase to every single one of them. Specifically, if you focused on the 20 percent of schools with the highest poverty rates in each state, that would give you 17,640 schools—and the money would go far enough to increase salaries by at least 50 percent.
That sounds like killing two birds with one stone to me, but it still doesn’t address teachers like Kory.
Where would the money for those raises come from? Take a look at this pie chart, which shows where our discretionary spending is allocated, and see if you can come up with any ideas:
2016 campaign issue, anyone?
Who is willing to make this issue their own?
And what might an educational-industrial complex actually engender?