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In the 1991-92 school year, the average salary for teachers reached a record $34,213, according to the American Federation of Teachers' annual salary survey.

That amount was 3.6 percent more than teachers were paid the year before--the smallest percentage increase in 27 years, the union said.

Since the 1980-81 school year, the average teacher salary has increased 95 percent, the report says. In 13 states, salaries improved more than 100 percent over that period.

Connecticut now has the highest average salary, at $47,510, while South Dakota has the lowest, $23,291.

Union leaders said the significant salary gains teachers enjoyed during the past decade are unlikely to continue, given the recession and difficult contract negotiations now under way across the nation.

They also argued that teachers are paid an average of $1,900 less today in current dollars than they were 20 years ago when their wages are adjusted for the experience level of the average teacher. Today, the average teacher has 15.4 years in the classroom, compared with 10.7 years in 1972.

However, the report shows that the average teacher salary now nearly equals the average $34,460 that assistant college professors are paid.

"Pro-family'' policies will miss the mark if they do not recognize and address the complex needs of nontraditional families, according to a report by the Population Reference Bureau.

"Social legislation ... narrowly designed to reinforce only one model of the American family is likely to be shortsighted and have unintended consequences of weakening, rather than strengthening, family ties,'' states the report issued by the private research group last month. It pulls together data documenting broad changes in family composition over the last few decades.

It notes, for example, that the marriage rate fell almost 30 percent between 1970 and 1990, while the divorce rate rose by nearly 40 percent; that more than half of all mothers with children in preschool were in the labor force in 1991, compared with one in five in 1960; that one in four babies is now born to an unmarried mother, up from one in 10 in 1970; and that about half of all children today are expected to spend some part of their childhood in a single-parent home.

While married couples with children "continue to be a prominent family pattern,'' the report says, the model of a breadwinner husband and a homemaker wife raising their own children is no longer dominant.

The report documents the prevalence of different types of families, including single-parent families, remarried couples, unmarried couples, stepfamilies, foster families, extended or multigeneration families, gay and lesbian couples, and the doubling-up of families within the same home.

"As blended families become the norm, the responsibilities of family members become more complex, more ambiguous, and more open to dispute,'' the report concludes.

Copies of the report, "New Realities of the American Family,'' are available for $8 each from the Population Reference Bureau, 1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 520, Washington, D.C. 20002; telephone (202) 483-1100 or (800) 877-9881.

Vol. 12, Issue 1

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