One More Reason to Support 100% Statewide School Funding

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Holly Otterbein reports that Philly school teachers’ pay lags behind what suburban school districts pay their teachers:

As it turns out, there are separate studies out there backing up both Hite and Jordan.

The Pennsylvania Schools Boards Association discovered that Philadelphia’s average 2010-11 salaries for elementary and secondary teachers were 19 percent lower than those in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

A WHYY/NewsWorks analysis of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s data also found that the city’s average 2012-13 salary of $70,790 for classroom teachers is lower than in most nearby districts. The pay gap arises in part because suburban schools tend to have more highly paid, veteran teachers.

Looking statewide, the average salary in Philly’s schools falls behind Pittsburgh’s average, which is $73,483.

At the same time, the starting salaries for Philadelphia’s teachers are competitive with surrounding districts such as Council Rock and Central Bucks, according to a2013 report by the advocacy group National Council on Teacher Quality. Wages stay that way for the first 10 years of a teacher’s tenure, then start to lag well behind what suburban schools pay experienced teachers.

I don’t know why the same conservatives who want to insist humans are rational economic actors in every other scenario don’t seem to think teacher pay matters for recruiting talented teachers. The current teacher pay structure isn’t ideal in my view – I’d pay new teachers a lot more, and offer teachers DC’s pay-for-performance option – but salary obviously still matters. And the fact that the wealthy suburban school districts have higher fiscal capacity than Philadelphia to pay their teachers more means they’re able to recruit better talent.

There’s your generational inequality doom cycle right there. Wealthy suburban parents have higher fiscal capacity to offer higher pay for better teachers, and that’s just piled on to all the other advantages their kids will grow up with.

This is one more reason PA should pay for education entirely from the state level. Ideally we would pay teachers even more money to work in urban core school districts, and less money to work in low-difficulty-setting rich suburban school districts. But at the very least, the pay scale should be equal and suburban parents’ higher fiscal capacity shouldn’t give suburban districts a teacher recruitment advantage over urban districts.

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

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