Report: New teachers are earning 11% less than 30 years ago | Monday Morning Coffee

New teachers make an average of $41,780 a year nationwide, underlining the staffing and retention problems districts face

March 28, 2022 7:11 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With school districts across the nation, including Pennsylvania, facing staffing and retention problems, new research gets to the heart of one of the factors that’s driving it: Wages that haven’t kept pace with inflation.

Adjusted for inflation, new teachers make 11 percent less than they did 30 years ago, according to new research by, an industry trade publication.

New teachers nationwide make an average of $41,780 per-year, according to the research. And if those salaries kept pace with inflation, new teachers would make an average of $46,762 per-year, an increase of $4,982, the research showed.

But even with that bump, new teachers would still earn less than the average college graduate, who earns about $55,000 a year, according to the trade publication.

“And as gas prices reach record highs, driving up the cost of commuting, and inflation continues to surge with no end yet in sight, the gap between what new teachers should be earning and what they’re actually taking home will likely continue to widen,” the study’s authors concluded.


Data from the Department of State show that the average annual salary for a classroom teacher in Pennsylvania is $71,478, with salaries ranging from $39,000 to $104,000, the Capital-Star previously reported.

In his final budget proposal, delivered to a joint session of the state House and Senate in February, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf again asked lawmakers to raise the state’s minimum teacher salary to $45,000 per-year.

The wage bump is intended to “ensure the commonwealth can attract the highest quality educational talent,” the administration wrote in a document supporting its proposed spending blueprint for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

“Providing high-quality education is one of my priorities, and that includes making sure we can attract and retain talented teachers,” Wolf said in 2020, as he made a pitch for the increase. “Raising the teacher salary to $45,000 would lift financial strain from our teachers, allowing them to direct their attention more fully to educating young Pennsylvanians.”

Becky Cibulka, a former West Mifflin Area School teacher, poses for a portrait on Monday, March 14, 2022 (Photo by John Altdorfer for the Capital-Star).

Speaking to the Capital-Star earlier this month, current and former educators discussed the multiple challenges they face in the classroom, challenges that are so great that some are choosing to leave the profession earlier than they had planned.

“I like being busy. I like always having things to do. That was never a problem for me,” Becky Cibulka, a former teacher in the West Mifflin Area School District, told the Capital-Star’s Marley Parish.

“But I think what ended up happening was that I was very involved. And as time went on, there was no reward for it, not that I was looking for some reward,” Cibulka continued. “A thank you would be nice, but the more that I did, the more I felt they started to pile on to me.”

In a statement, MyELearningWorld founder, Scott Winstead, noted that fewer new teachers are entering the profession, further exacerbating the current staffing crisis.

“The severity of the teacher shortage crisis cannot be overstated,” Winstead said. “We simply do not have enough new teachers to fill the vacancies, and it’s starting to affect the quality of education and support our students are receiving. A shortage of teachers means more crowded classrooms, less one-on-one support for students, and potentially even some schools being forced to close.”

The same challenges exist in Pennsylvania, according to one top state lawmaker.

“We are not graduating enough educators, especially diverse educators,” state Sen. Lindsey Williams, of Allegheny County, told the Capital-Star.

“We’re talking about teachers of color and teachers that look like our students. We’re not graduating near what we need to fill retirements and other people who leave the profession,” Williams, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Education Committee, told the Capital-Star.

(c) Monkey Business –

Our Stuff.
As Women’s History Month heads into its final days, Cassie Miller has a state-by-state breakdown of the gender pay gap. That’s this week’s edition of The Numbers Racket.

States are scrambling to address a healthcare worker shortage, our friends at report.

In Philadelphia, members of City Council are raising their voices on the Kenney administration’s gun violence prevention efforts, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

With a little more than a month to apply, state officials remind students and their families to submit their federal student aid applicationsMarley Parish reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Clean Air Council’s Joseph Minott says that opponents of Pennsylvania’s entry into a regional greenhouse gas compact are playing a cynical game with a dangerous cost.

En la Estrella-Capital: Candidatos republicanos del Distrito 7 Scheller y Dellicker debatirán el 1 de abril. Y Proyecto de Política de Marihuana nombra a Pa. como uno de los 19 estados con peores leyes de marihuana.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw speaks in this undated photo (Image via The Philadelphia Tribune).

Philadelphia’s police oversight board was first proposed in 2020. Two years later, it’s moving toward reality, the Inquirer reports.

Pennsylvania’s sports betting industry is booming — bringing with it problems with gambling addiction, the Tribune-Review reports.

What’s Pennsylvania most-traveled structurally deficient bridge? PennLive went looking for answers.

Millions of dollars in expenses racked up by members of the state House would be available online under a new billThe Caucus reports.

Despite a mayoral order, an Erie police officer was never suspended for kicking a protester in 2020, GoErie reports.

The Morning Call delves into the lack of oversight for Pennsylvania’s constables and how that sometimes results in the wrong people getting hired.

Thanks to inflation, prices are going up at Wilkes-Barre’s golf courses, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Candidates are scrambling to get onto the ballot in a ‘chaotic’ year, WHYY-FM reports.

Hate group propaganda is surging in PennsylvaniaWLVR-FM reports (via WITF-FM).

PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.

City & State Pa. runs down five women candidates to watch in 2022.

Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from election cases after inflammatory texts by his wife were made public, Talking Points Memo reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On
The House comes in at 12 p.m. today for a non-voting session.
9:30 a.m., G50 Irvis: House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee (and again at. 1 p.m.)
12 p.m., 10 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg: Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, officials from the Dept. of General Services, and Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams announce ‘Lights Out Harrisburg,’ an effort to tackle light pollution.
1 p.m., 2525 N.7th St., Harrisburg: Joint State Government Commission
1:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: First Lady Frances Wolf joins college students to talk about hunger on campus.
2 p.m., 140 Main Capitol: House Republican Policy Committee
2 p.m., G50 Irvis: House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
11 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Sheryl Delozier
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Judy Ward
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Joe Ciresi
5:30 p.m: Reception for Sen. Devlin Robinson
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a fairly ridiculous $9,500 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule as of this writing. As we’ve noted, that can sometimes change during the course of the day.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to PennLive’s Vicki Vellios Briner and to Dan Hayward, of Novak Strategic Advisors, both of whom celebrated on Sunday.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s something to get your work week off to a righteous start: It’s the legendary Bob Marleyperforming live in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1979.


Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The Pittsburgh Penguins absolutely rolled over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, winning 11-2 at home at PPG Paints Arena.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.