Montana teachers among the lowest paid

WASHINGTON — Salaries for the nation’s teachers just barely kept pace with living costs in the 1990s, rising 31 percent to about $43,000, the
nation’s largest teachers union said Monday.

By Greg Toppo of The Associated Press- The Montana Standard

In its annual report on state spending in education, the National Education Association said teacher salaries rose 0.5 percent between 1990 and
2000 when inflation is taken into account. In many states, the union said, teachers actually lost ground to inflation.

“ As more money was invested in public education, teacher salaries remained stag nant — all while the U.S. was in a time of economic expansion,”
said NEA President Bob Chase.
The Labor Department’s own figures show that elementary school teachers’ wages rose by about 38 percent between 1990 and 2000, while those of
high school teachers rose nearly 33 percent.
Labor Department figures show that, on average, wages for all full-time workers rose about 40 percent, but that wages for many workers grew more

Mail carriers, for instance, saw their weekly wages grow 30 percent, while engi neers’ and firefighters’ wages grew about 36 percent. Others, such as
architects and physicians, saw their wages grow by 52 per cent.
The NEA said 13 states last year paid the typical teacher $45,000 or more, but that average salaries in 25 states were still less than $40,000.
As in past years, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, New York and Michigan paid teachers the highest average salaries in the 2000-2001 school

Among the lowest were Louisiana, Montana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.
While teachers in states such as Connecticut, Maryland and Alaska remained near the top of the nation’s salary scale, their wages failed to keep up
with inflation, the NEA said. All three lost con siderable ground to rising living costs.
Debra Williams-Garner of the Maryland State Teacher’s Association, an NEA affili ate, said a 5 percent raise for most Maryland teachers in 2000
may have made several school districts “ complacent” when it came to teacher pay. “ However, that was only a first step toward getting salaries to
where they need to be to keep qualified teachers in the classroom,” she said.

NEA’s salary figures come from state departments of education in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“ Teachers are underpaid, and we’re facing a $40 million shortfall on top of a decade of cuts,” said James Williams, a senior at Lincoln High School
in Portland, Ore., and a former student representative on the Portland School Board. He said the district is also considering reducing teachers’
health benefits, eliminating a cost-ofliving increase and cutting days from the school year, which would lower salaries.

“ The top teachers are being pulled away from Oregon to other areas in the nation,” he said.
On Saturday, the National Association of Elementary School Principals released its own annual wage survey, reporting that ele mentary school
principals earn, on average, about $73,000. Middle school principals earn $78,000 and high school principals earn just under $84,000. The
principals’ survey relies on self-reported figures from 800 school systems.

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