Health

By the charts: America’s teachers are fed up

Tattered textbooks. Unheated classrooms. Slashed budgets. School teachers in the US are being asked to do more with less, and many of them have had enough. Here’s why.

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Teachers are widely respected

When it comes to honest and ethics, teachers rank "high" or "very high."

Gallup, December 4–11, 2017

Yet teachers still get paid the least. You can finish school, take pretty much any white-collar job and earn more than a teacher.

Teachers' wages are relatively low

In 2015, public school teachers in the US were paid 23% less than other college graduates.

Economic Policy Institute, non-self-employed US workers age 18–64

For years, teacher salaries have remained flat.

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Salaries remain stagnant

The average salary for secondary school teachers during the 2015-2016 school year is nearly the same as it was 10 years ago.

National Center for Education Statistics, adjusted for inflation

Teacher pay gap widening

And their pay is falling behind that of other workers. From 2010 to 2015, teachers went from earning 12% less than workers in similar professions to 17% less.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Center for Education Statistic enrollment estimates

Funding for schools is plummeting.

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Biggest declines in state K-12 funding

Yearly funding per student declined the most from 2008–2014 in these states.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, National Center for Education Statistic enrollment estimates

No wonder more teachers are leaving the profession. Two-thirds of US teachers quit well before retirement. Why? Low salaries, dissatisfaction with testing and accountability pressures, lack of opportunities for advancement and dissatisfaction with working conditions.

Teachers planning to leave the profession

On average, 6.6% of teachers said they wanted to leave teaching as soon as possible, in a 2012 survey.

Learning Policy Institute