Report finds Pennsylvania entry-level teachers fare well | TribLIVE.com
Pennsylvania

Report finds Pennsylvania entry-level teachers fare well

Deb Erdley
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That first day of school may have been rough, but chances are new teachers are doing comparatively better in Pennsylvania than just about anywhere else in the nation.

A study by business.org that looked at average teacher starting salaries across the nation and then calculated the pay gap between that number and the average starting salary for all other jobs in each state, found Pennsylvania had one of the smallest pay gaps in the nation as well as one of the highest starting salaries for K-12 teachers.

The number crunchers found the National Education Association pegged the average starting salary for Pennsylvania teachers at $44,674 a year.

Starting teachers in nine states and the District of Columbia earned more — anywhere from $55,209 a year in the District of Columbia to $45,1947 in Maryland.

Entry-level teachers in nearby West Virginia and Ohio fared far worse with average starting wages of $33,715 and $35,923, respectively.

But business.org said the bigger takeaway may be how much entry-level teachers are paid compared to the average paychecks of those in all other occupations in each state.

That’s where Pennsylvania teachers stand out.

Nationally, entry-level teachers make about 21.8% less than those in all other occupations.

And while there is a pay gap between entry-level teachers and other workers across the nation, only three states have a wage gap smaller than the 10.8% deficit in Pennsylvania.

Although the NEA’s number is a hair less than the $45,000 a year minimum Gov. Tom Wolf wants the Legislature to establish for entry-level teachers, it is well above the state’s mandatory $18,500 minimum for new teachers.

That old number, the state’s heavy reliance on local property tax revenues to fund school and wealth and other demographic factors all play into the variations in teacher compensation across the state’s 500 public school districts.

The state Department of Education, which compiles an annual report on teacher salaries, said average salaries for 2018-19 ranged from a high of $103,509 a year for a teacher with 17 years of experience in the upscale Council Rocks School District in Bucks County to $38,889 a year for a teacher with 12 years experience in the Turkeyfoot Valley School District in rural Somerset County.

A survey in the spring by the National Education Association found Pennsylvania teachers ranked 10th in the nation, with an average salary of $68,141, compared to the overall national average of $61,730.

Like veteran teachers, classroom newcomers can expect a vast range of salaries.

Pennsylvania State Education Association spokesman Chris Lilienthal said his organization’s statistics counted 3,200 teachers across the state had yet to break Wolf’s $45,000 a year bar last year.

“Pay and benefits vary greatly from district to district,” Lilienthal said. “One of things we have been advocating for is this increase in minimum salary so we can bring it up. Raising the minimum salary is the best way to do it and doing it at the state level.”

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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