Inflection Point: At least they have the mountains: Colorado teacher pay near nation’s lowest

Photo of elementary school teacherA recent Economic Policy Institute report shows that teacher pay, relative to pay for other college educated professionals, has slid substantially in the past several years.

While there is some dispute about the data and methodology, regarding whether it addresses summer time off and retirement pay for teachers fairly, compared to other college educated workers, the findings are concerning.  Since the “great recession” of 2008, we know that the number of teacher jobs fell substantially, though in the past year or two, this has been reversed, and even led to some teacher shortages.  But, the decline of jobs, and the slide in relative wages, partly fit together in the larger picture.

And, the figures in Colorado are even more important, and concerning.   While the national average wage for teachers is 77% of other college educated workers, in Colorado the figure is 65%, second only to Arizona’s 63%.  (Our norther neighbor Wyoming is #1 in the country at 98.6%)

For comparing across states, it doesn’t matter as much if this report’s methodology is totally correct.  It is consistent across the states, and Colorado teacher pay, relative to other college educated workers, is the second worst in America.  It is hard to understand how we can expect great improvements in our K12 education results, when we pay our teachers so poorly.  Evidence shows that well qualified teachers are the most important element of the school system, in terms of improving student performance.

 In no state are teachers paid more than other college graduates – Ratios of public school teacher wages to wages of other college graduates, by state

State Ratio
AZ 62.8273%
CO 64.5359%
NC 65.3831%
NM 66.1615%
VA 66.8668%
OK 66.9839%
MO 67.8059%
GA 69.2528%
UT 70.3109%


Categories: Commentary

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