Q&A of the Day – Teacher Salaries

Today’s entry: Brian- you were just talking about how teacher pay wasn’t the biggest issue with shortages but Cardona’s out talking about it being all about money. I seem to recall you talking about this awhile back when DeSantis first pushed raises for teachers. Something about teachers doing better than other professions. I’d like it if you provided a comparison with teacher pay.  

Bottom Line: Yep, what you’re referencing was back in 2019 when Governor DeSantis proposed, and eventually passed, record pay raises for Florida’s teachers, and I can provide an updated look at the average compensation of teachers compared with other professions in Florida and across the country. However, prior to diving into the data -specific to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona... Yes, as the new school year has begun in Florida and across the country, he’s making the rounds talking about the teacher shortage. It was just last week I brought you the info of there being a shortage of teachers in literally every state and US territory (and that actually Florida’s shortage is lower than the national average). So, it's not surprising to hear the Education Secretary attempting to control the narrative on this issue which will no doubt be impacting millions of students across the country. When hearing from Cardona on the issue of teachers, it’s especially important to consider the source.  

Miguel Cardona was a member of the American Federation of teachers prior to becoming Education Secretary and was the hand-picked choice of Randi Weingarten’s AFT for Education Secretary. Therefore, one might imagine that the union’s position is likely to be Cardona’s position. And the AFT party line was the approach taken Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. Quoting Cardona: Let's face it, this teacher shortage is a symptom of something that's been going on for longer than the pandemic and that's a teacher respect issue. Unless we're serious about providing competitive salaries for our educators, better working conditions so that they can continue to grow. Right, so it’s the typical – teachers aren’t respected and aren’t paid enough trope. As I illustrated last week, compensation isn’t a leading reason why we have a teacher shortage. In fact, education has a far higher retention rate than other degree fields. Instead, the prominent reason for the shortage is a greater than 50% decline in those pursing education as a career over the past decade. So, about Benjamins. You wanted an updated look at teacher compensation compared to other careers...you’ve got it. 

  • $65,090 – the average salary for a full-time K-12 teacher 
  • $58,260 – the average salary for all other full-time professions 

So, the average teacher earns $6,830, or about 12%, more annually than the average other full-time employed person. With teachers earning far more than the average American, while having far more time off as well, it’s a tough argument to suggest there’s a “lack of respect” in terms of compensation, using in the words of Secretary Cardona.  

In Florida, the average public school teacher salary is below the national average at $52,386, however, that still compares favorably to the average full-time salary of $48,174. So, the facts show teachers consistently earning significantly higher salaries than the average other Floridian or American. The narrative that teachers are underpaid is as old as the teachers’ unions themselves. When have you ever heard a labor union say that the employees they represent don’t deserve more? The lines between the unions and our teachers are blurred as over 70% of public-school teachers are members of a union, and the unions commonly advance their own agendas and talking points. What’s not often discussed is balancing teacher compensation relative to the communities they serve. 

Most of the money for public education comes in the form of property taxes. We don’t have any choice but to pay taxes or lose our property. Any analysis of teacher pay that isn’t weighed against the citizens they serve, isn’t credible or objective. Often people, especially teachers, are critical of the way I inform on these issues. Let me be clear that nothing I’ve shared or continue to share is anti-education or teachers. It’s simply objective information that’s lacking in the public discourse of these debates. There are two sides to stories and one side to facts. I never apologize for facts that make some uncomfortable. That’s generally when they’re needed most. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.  

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Gettr, Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio  

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.     

High school teacher gives student a high five

Foto: Getty Images

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