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Latest Salary Survey Shows Gains; Charter Pay Lags

The average salary for traditional public school teachers increased 4.5 percent in 2006-07 to $51,009, according to the AFT's latest teacher salary survey, marking the first time average teacher pay exceeded $50,000 and the first time since 2003 that teacher salaries surpassed the annual rate of inflation.

The AFT report also includes never-before-released salary data for charter school teachers in 29 states—of the 40 that have charter schools—where the news was not as positive. The average charter school teacher salary was $41,106—nearly $10,000 less than that for traditional public school teachers. This is significant, the AFT report points out, because charter schools generally provide less generous benefits, making their entire compensation packages inferior to those of traditional public schools.

The AFT's Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007 shows that for beginning teachers, the 2006-07 average salary was $35,284, up 6.2 percent from the previous year. For beginning charter school teachers, the salary was slightly less, at $34,817.

AFT president Randi Weingarten says she is encouraged by the upswing in traditional public school teacher pay. "For years, unions have been bringing public attention to the hard work done by classroom teachers. That effort is yielding positive results in the way teachers are compensated and respected," Weingarten says. "We still have a lot of work to do if we want to see teacher salary growth on par with other white-collar professions, and if we want to continue to attract high-quality people to the profession."

As in past years, teachers' earnings continued to fall short of those in other professions. Out of 23 occupations with similar training/education requirements, only three earned less than teachers.

The AFT was able to obtain charter school salary information from 29 state departments of education. The report notes that while charter school teacher salaries were still significantly lower than those of their traditional public school counterparts, charter teacher salaries increased $3,862 from 2004-05 to 2006-07, a gain of 10.4 percent over the two-year period.

"All teachers deserve fair compensation, whether they work in charter or regular public schools," Weingarten says. "One of the reasons more and more charter school teachers are interested in joining a union is because they want to negotiate fair wage and benefit packages with their school administrators."

The Survey and Analysis of Teacher Salary Trends 2007 uses data from state education agencies, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. [AFT public affairs department]

December 1, 2008

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