By Elyse Apel | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – Teacher compensation across Pennsylvania grew over the past decade, despite claims from officials that low salaries and high stress scare educators from the state in droves.
The data, gleaned from a recent report from the National Education Association – one of the country’s largest labor unions – found that teachers in Pennsylvania earned an average of $73,072 during the 2021-22 school year – the 11th highest rate in the nation.
That’s roughly 9.5% higher than the national average and 24% higher than teacher salaries were in Pennsylvania in 2010.
At the same time, data compiled by the association shows a slight increase in the number of public school teachers working in Pennsylvania between 2020 and 2022 – from 120,717 to 120,981.
The figures contradict an analysis published by Penn State’s Center for Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis. The report found that teacher attrition continues its upward trajectory, rising from 6.2% to 7.7% over the past year, reaching an all-time high over the last decade.
Lawmakers point to the Penn State study when describing their support for bills moving through the legislature to create three-year tax credits for new teachers, nurses, and law enforcement officers. Critics argue that the legislation picks winners over losers and does little to fix the problem in the long term.
Other legislation would create scholarship programs, training stipends, and expanded worker protections. This, after advocates blamed chronic stress, short staffing, dwindling resources, and burnout as contributing factors to the state’s labor crisis.
The Pennsylvania State Education Association, which represents 178,000 educators across the state, said that some teachers in Pennsylvania make just $18,500 annually, and nearly 2,700 earn less than $45,000. That’s about 2% of the nearly 121,000 teachers working in the state last year.