Students raising hands while teacher asking them questions in classroom


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School’s almost out for summer — and teachers sure as hell deserve the break. Despite being one of society's most essential professions, teachers are still woefully underpaid, according to (not surprising) recent data by The National Education Association (NEA).

The NEA reports that, although teacher pay went up very slightly in 2022, salaries haven’t kept up with inflation — which is obvious to anyone who works in education or knows someone who does. The national average teacher salary for the 2022-23 school year was $68,469, which is a 2.6% increase from the previous year.

However, that’s still $3,644 less than 10 years ago, so WTF. Especially when you think about how teachers deal with everything from difficult students and parents to safety threats. Plus, they spend their own time and money outside of school, creating lessons and buying materials for their classrooms. 

The good news is there are a select few (and far between) states who are actually giving teachers a decent increase, according to NEA data. If you want to be a teacher and are willing to go anywhere, New Mexico raised teacher pay by 17.15%, from an average of $54,272 to $63,580. That’s great, but it’s also all relative. Massachusetts, the state that pays teachers the most, offers an average salary of $92,307, which is a 3.09% bump from the previous year.

If you are a teacher in Kansas, pay actually went down, from an average of $54,988 to $54,810. And the state with the lowest paid teachers overall is Mississippi, with an average this year of $48,530.

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Low teacher salaries have been a recent conversation amongst lawmakers. In a rare form of solidarity, members of both parties agree in backing a proposal to raise teacher salaries to a minimum of $60,000 nationwide. There are currently two proposals circulating in legislation that champion that amount: the Pay Teachers Act and the American Teacher Act. The topic is complicated though, with arguments debating whether the money should be federally-funded or if it's a state issue to solve.

One thing is clear: Without adequate salaries, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract new teachers to the profession, summer vacation or not.

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