There is a lot of chatter in Loudoun County these days about teacher salaries now that the School Board and the Board of Supervisors are discussing the next school year budget. Many of my neighbors are teachers and I see every day the hard work and hours they put in. I often think of those teachers who made a difference in my life growing up. We entrust these teachers to be with our kids 7 hours every day. A teacher who can pay their bills, live close to work, and feels valued, in my opinion, creates better teachers who can concentrate on the task at hand instead of worrying about constantly keeping above the water line.
What we must consider when we talk about teacher salary is inflation and how that erodes those salaries that some folks think are too high. A starting teacher salary in Loudoun County in 2000 was about $35K. With yearly step increases, that salary would be roughly $59K today. The buying power of that "increased" salary would be roughly $58K today, which means the teacher actually makes $1K less (sort of). This only includes average inflation and no other added salary erosion items such as increased cost for health care coverage.
BUT: Teachers in Loudoun County did not receive their expected step increases on their salary for five years. So let's take that same teacher and give them a step increase for only 10 years and you end up with a salary of roughly $45.5K. The teacher who started with our school system in the year 2000 has a buying power that is $10.5K LESS today. Let that sink in.
It's no wonder that the turnover in teachers is so great, and no wonder that one of every three teachers who leave teaching within 10 years cites low pay as the reason. Most CEOs can articulate how employee turnover hurts the bottom line. High turnover among teachers in public school classrooms undermines school stability, serves as an impediment to educational reform, and hurts student achievement, a study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching finds. Investing in our teachers is investing in our children.
"If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war." ~1983 government study A Nation at Risk