Urban Teachers' Pay Found Rising In Study, But Not Keeping Pace

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Teachers at the top of the pay scale in large urban schools earned an average of $51,955 annually last year, a 5.4 percent increase over the year before, according to a report by the American Federation of Teachers.

The teachers' union, with a membership of 1.2 million, surveyed teacher salaries, district expenditures, and federal revenue in large school districts between the 1990-91 and 2000-01 school years.

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Though last year's bump in salaries was significant, the average increase over the 10-year period was only 3.2 percent, the report says, half a percentage point lower than the 3.7 percent average annual raise all U.S. workers received during that time.

"If that 5 percent increase is a sign that salaries are going to move up, that's a good sign for education," said John See, a spokesman for the AFT. But, he added, "if the real trend is the 10-year trend," urban districts will continue to have a hard time attracting and keeping good teachers.

Less Aid for Students?

The salary data featured in the Oct. 25 report was obtained from the U.S. Department of Defense by the department's civilian-personnel management service's wage and salary division.

After AFT researchers adjusted salaries for the cost of living in the nation's 100 largest cities, they found that Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; and Rochester and Yonkers, N.Y., paid the highest salaries to teachers.

The lowest salaries were in Honolulu; Los Angeles; San Jose and Oakland, Calif.; and Seattle, the report says.

Meanwhile, the union researchers say, the increase in the amount of federal Title I aid that large urban schools received did not keep pace with the 25 percent increase in the number of children who qualified for free or reduced-priced lunches.

Those numbers are a major factor in determining how much Title I money a school can receive.

"If you focus on Title I aid, per- pupil aid in real dollars, students were getting less money," Mr. See said.

That's because between the 1997-98 and 2000-01 school years, federal aid grew by 8 percent, but inflation grew by 9.3 percent, he said.

Vol. 21, Issue 10, Page 18

Published in Print: November 7, 2001, as Urban Teachers' Pay Found Rising In Study, But Not Keeping Pace
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