Wyoming teachers compensated better than most amid disappointing trend

WYOMING – Arguably no teacher is paid what they are worth but in Wyoming we compensate our educators better than most states.

Recent data from the Economic Policy Institute indicates average weekly wages of public school teachers, adjusted for inflation, have decreased, while the weekly wages of other college graduates have risen over the past two decades. And the trend is getting worse.

The so-called teacher weekly wage penalty reached a record 21.4 percent in 2018.

According to EPI, the deepening teacher wage and compensation penalty over the recovery parallels a growing shortage of teachers. Every state headed into the 2017–18 school year faced a teacher shortage. New research by García and Weiss (2019) indicates the persistence and magnitude of the teacher shortage nationwide.

“The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought,’ García and Weiss reported. “A shortage of teachers harms students, teachers, and the public education system as a whole. Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere. The teacher shortage makes it more difficult to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it, which further contributes to perpetuating the shortage.”

Low pay has also driven many of the teacher strikes and walkouts across the country.

In 2018, teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado raised the profile of deteriorating teacher pay as a critical public policy issue. Teacher protests have continued in many states into 2019, and there have been several prominent strikes in major cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, and Denver.

The research found Wyoming had the lowest teacher wage penalty at .2%, meaning compensation for teachers in the Equality State has kept pace with comparable professions.

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