New poll shows support for Wolf’s teacher minimum wage hike | Wednesday Morning Coffee

March 20, 2019 7:14 am

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

In polling, as in life, it’s safe to say you get what you pay for.

A new poll, commissioned by the state’s largest teachers union, shows … wait for it … broad support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to increase teachers’ base pay from the current $18,500 a year to $45,000 a year.

The poll, by central Pennsylvania-based Harper Pollingshows that two-thirds of the 600 likely voters who responded support the minimum wage hike for educators that Democrat Wolf rolled out during his budget address last month.

The poll also found widespread geographic support for Wolf’s proposal:

As you might imagine, PSEA officials trumpeted the results. It’s been decades since the state minimum was raised, they noted.

“Raising the minimum teacher salary will help Pennsylvania school districts attract and retain the best and brightest to teach in our schools,” PSEA President Rich Askey said in a statemeant. “Pennsylvanians understand that and widely support this proposal.”

But as is the case with most polls, it comes down to how you ask the question:

Specifically, respondents were asked whether they’d favor “a proposal to raise the minimum teacher salary in Pennsylvania from $18,500 to $45,000 a year,”  after they were told that “the minimum annual salary for public school teachers in Pennsylvania is $18,500, meaning that no school district can pay teachers less than that. Most school districts pay more, and the average starting salary of Pennsylvania school teachers is around $46,000. But there are districts that pay their teachers a lot less.” 

And while it may be true that the average starting salary for teachers is $46,000, which is lower than the median income of $59,195, the average teacher salary in Pennsylvania, according to WHYY-FM (via The PA Post), is $67,535.

There’s no doubt that teachers need a raise. In a perfect universe, we’d pay public school teachers as much as we pay college football coaches. Their job is that important. But PSEAshould have been more upfront in its questioning. Leaving out the average wage for all classroom teachers feels like putting an unneeded thumb on the scale.

The argument is strong enough without it.

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What Happens on Twitter:

What Goes On.
Best hope you wore your comfy shoes today.
The House and Senate both get rolling at 11 a.m.
Meanwhiilllleeee …
9 a.m., Main Rotunda: Sen. Mike Regan kicks off Greek Independence Day.
10 a.m, Main Rotunda: Engineering companies talk about the need to fix our crumbling infrastructure.
10 a.m, Media Center; House Speaker Mike Turzai and Rep. Kate Klunk go back to the well on another wrongheaded and unnecessary abortion ban bill.
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: Penn State Capitol day. They are …  just everywhere.
1:30 p.m., Main Rotunda: Event on safe staffing levels for nurses and patients.
2 p.m., Media Center: The Wolf administration on the dumpster fire that is the Trump budget.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
7:30 a.m.: 
Breakfast fro Rep. Marcy Toepel
8 a.m: Breakfast for Rep. Mike Peifer
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Tom Killion
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Tommy Sankey
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Andrew Lewis
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Sen. Jay Costa
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Sen. Judy Schwank
5 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Camera Bartolotta
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Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
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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.