Education Week, October 1, 2020, by Emily Ayscue Hassel and Bryan Hassel
Even before COVID-19 sent students and educators home, teachers’ jobs had grown increasingly complex. Rightful demands for standards matching those of other nations—and for equitable opportunities allowing students to meet or exceed those standards—swelled over recent decades.
With research clearly indicating how important teacher and principal quality are to student learning growth, a thoughtful school staffing and compensation strategy would have been a natural response. Instead, decades of benevolently intended policy shifts snatched dollars from teachers’ pockets as their jobs got harder, while failing to innovate like other professions.
As we explain in Getting the Most Bang for the Education Buck, the consequences have been devastating for students and committed educators. A vigorous pivot is long overdue.
Over the past five decades, U.S. public education went on a spending spree benefiting nearly everything and everyone—except classroom teachers. Since 1970, real per-pupil spending increased 145 percent, yet real teacher pay was nearly flat, increasing just 7.5 percent (see figure). Teachers work longer hours, so hourly pay actually declined. If teacher pay had increased in proportion to K-12 spending, teachers today would earn nearly $140,000, on average, instead of less than half that. Read the full column…