How Can We Increase Teacher Pay? – The Baines Report (2023)

In this two-part series, Julie Crookston and Salimah Jasani dissect the issue of teacher pay in the United States. This second piece considers different options for increasing teacher pay in the United States. (See Part I, Why Give Teachers Raises?)


Options for Increasing Teacher Pay

While it is widely accepted that teacher salaries should be higher, the common belief is that increasing salaries is politically infeasible or simply too expensive. The reality, however, is that there are several different options for funding salary increases at every level of the education system: district, state, and federal. A number of strategies have emerged, such as restructuring teacher and administrator salaries and roles, changing school models through paraprofessionals and technology, lockbox funding of state lottery and casino revenues, federal tax cuts for teachers in high poverty schools, and grants for states to increase teacher quality of life. Figure 1 depicts the relationship between all of these strategies.

How Can We Increase Teacher Pay? – The Baines Report (1)

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Figure 1

District-Level Options: Restructuring School Models

Most school districts have a policy of paying administrators higher salaries than teachers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2017 the average school principal made $94,390. This is consistent with the corporate culture of higher pay for seniority and management, yet the goals of a corporate entity and a school are vastly different. The mission of a school is to educate children, and in this arena, teachers have the potential for the greatest impact. Unfortunately, with the current system, there is an unwritten culture that incentivizes teachers to leave the classroom to pursue roles as administrators in order to make a higher salary.

Innovative models exist to increase teacher pay without increasing overall education spending.

Restructuring of teacher/administrator salaries and roles. One is the restructuring of teacher and administrator roles to create teacher/administrator hybrid roles. A salary restructure would follow along with the restructuring of responsibilities, thus evening out the pay gap between teachers and administrators. One school in New York that follows this model is able to pay its teachers $125,000 a year using normal state funding.

Changing school models through paraprofessionals or technology. The Multi-Classroom Leadership model creates teams of teachers that are led by a teacher-leader. These teacher-leaders manage training, collaboration, planning, and specific roles to team teachers. Less experienced teachers’ roles could be adjusted to only require 40 hours of work a week (instead of the average 50 hours) for lower pay, but with the opportunity to get paid substantially more with experience.

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Another model has elementary school teachers specializing in specific subjects and hires paraprofessionals to do the grading. A third model uses technology to give students self-paced instruction when they are not in class with a teacher. Fewer teachers are needed to maintain current class sizes, leading to an increase in pay for all teachers. All of these models have been shown to increase teacher pay over 40 percent without the need for additional government funding of schools.

State-Level Option: Earmarked Lottery Revenue and “Lockbox” Funding

Lockbox funding of lottery and casino revenues. As of 2005, 40 states and the District of Columbia operated lotteries, with many states earmarking a certain portion of lottery profits to go toward increased education funding. However, most states do not have any mechanisms in place to keep lottery funds from supplanting, rather than supplementing, education funding. In fact, states with lotteries actually use a smaller percentage of their wealth to pay for school funding than states without lotteries. The status quo is misleading to constituents and detrimental to public education.

Fortunately, citizens are starting to recognize that lottery funding has not led to an increase in education funding and are initiating change. For example, this past November, residents of Maryland voted on a ballot measure to create a constitutional amendment requiring a portion of casino funding to supplement, rather than supplant, education spending. The popularity of this so-called “Lockbox Amendment” indicates that people want to see earmarked education funding lead to an increase in spending on schools. Thus, one way to increase teacher salaries would be to put a percentage of lottery and casino profits in a “lockbox” for education, and specifically for increased teacher pay. Politically, this option is more viable now than ever before due to heightened awareness. There is already momentum toward changing the system; states should use this momentum to ensure their teachers earn a higher salary.

Federal-Level Options: Tax Breaks for Teachers and Federal Incentives to States

Currently, the scope of federal intervention in education funding is limited in the United States. However, countries like Singapore and the United Kingdom, which have recently implemented national strategies to maintain adequate teacher pay, have found success in increasing not only teacher pay but also teacher quality. Additionally, the U.S. federal government has historically intervened in education as it relates to specific student populations, particularly children living in poverty. Given that teachers working in high-poverty schools make $41,00 less than those working in low-poverty schools, it would be justified for the federal government to intervene in order to increase teacher compensation.

Federal tax cuts for teachers in high-poverty schools. One idea put forth by the Center for American Progress would create an incremental $10,000 refundable Teacher Tax Credit for teachers in high-poverty schools. This proposal would cost about $15 billion annually, which is approximately how much the federal government currently spends on supplementing doctor training funds. In other words, there is a precedent for federal funding and intervention in the growth and well-being of a particular profession.

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Grants for states to increase teacher quality of life. Another means of federal intervention would be to use federal grants through the Department of Education’s Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality initiative (AITQ) to incentivize states to raise teacher salaries. By dedicating a portion of its grant funding to states who have demonstrated that they have increased teacher pay (and thus, their quality), the federal government can prioritize increasing teacher pay without having to subsidize it completely. This option would look similar to the federal Race to the Top initiative, which invited states to compete for federal grants if they could demonstrate that they met certain standards in education reform.

Not only is there a precedent for federal intervention in education, but there is also a need for a message from the federal level that teacher pay needs to be increased, and that there are a number of ways to accomplish this goal.


Given the tremendous impact that teacher pay has on student performance, our economy, and our national security, policymakers at every level of the system would be remiss not to take steps to increase teacher pay nationwide. Indeed, the most effective way to achieve higher salaries would be for school districts, states, and the federal government to share the structural and economic burden. Specifically, we recommend implementation of all of these strategies in order to have the greatest net benefit for our teachers and students.

At the very least, implementing even one of the many strategies above would result in higher pay for teachers and, consequently, a better future for our children and for our country itself. That being said, we recognize that the most politically feasible option, and the one with the most immediate potential effect, would be for school districts to restructure teacher, paraprofessional, and technology roles in their systems. Thus, we recommend that this be the first area of focus in the short run. In the long run, the strategy with the greatest potential to create lasting change and send a clear message about the importance of our teachers would be for the federal government to implement a tax cut for teachers in high poverty schools.

What is clear is that the status quo is not acceptable. In order to protect our national interest and create a future workforce of capable and educated citizens, it is essential that we take steps to increase teacher salaries.

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How Can We Increase Teacher Pay? – The Baines Report (2)
Salimah Jasani is a candidate for the Master of Public Affairs (DC Concentration) at the LBJ School. Prior to joining this program, Salimah taught Special Education English at the high school level for four years in Baltimore. She is the co-founder and co-host of the Point of Hue podcast, which seeks to amplify the voices of women of color creating positive social change. Her policy interests are in K-12 education policy and disability advocacy.

How Can We Increase Teacher Pay? – The Baines Report (3)

Julie Crookston is a candidate for the Master of Public Affairs at the LBJ School. After completing her undergrad, Julie taught Junior High mathematics for 2 years before coming to Austin and joining the AmeriCorps. Through AmeriCorps she worked with a local non profit, College Forward, before being accepted into the LBJ School. Her policy interests are non-profits, education, and city government.

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How can teachers increase their income? ›

Get a Master's Degree

Getting a master's degree is probably the most sure-fire way to move up the teacher pay scale. Typically, school district pay scales are based on your degrees, additional credit hours and years of experience, meaning an advanced degree will usually correlate with a pay increase.

Why should we increase teacher pay? ›

Higher Pay for Teachers Means Students Do Better

Students do better when teachers are compensated more. According to one study, a 10% increase in teacher salary would result in a 5–10% improvement in student performance. Students also gain long-term advantages from teacher compensation.

Can increasing teacher pay improve teacher quality? ›

In short, yes. While earlier work showed mixed results on whether teacher pay had the potential to improve the quality of the teaching workforce, more recent work shows that paying teachers (and particularly early career teachers) more has the potential to improve student achievement through retention.

Can teachers negotiate salary? ›

Some teaching salaries have room for negotiation, while teachers in other jobs agree to employment contracts at rates determined by a salary chart without any room for negotiations. Instructors working in the private industry have the widest range for salary discussions.

How can teachers solve low salary? ›

SOLUTION: Increase the salary of public school teachers through approving pending bills. This would mean paying tribute to their important contribution in educating the youth and to provide them with decent pay commensurate to the sacrifices they make in educating the country's youth -- the country's future citizens.

How to increase salary? ›

Here are some tips to help you:
  1. 1) Find out what you are worth. ...
  2. 2) Understand your company's environment. ...
  3. 3) Timing is critical. ...
  4. 4) Have all your facts at hand. ...
  5. 5) Speak confidently. ...
  6. 6) Practice, practice, practice. ...
  7. 7) Be ready with a figure and don't give up too easily. ...
  8. 8) Be prepared for your next move.
Feb 4, 2019

Why do teachers give us so much work? ›

They give out many assignments to make sure that kids are actually comprehending the material. Teachers want their students to be able to fully understand the topics they are learning.

Are teachers satisfied with their salaries? ›

In both traditional public and charter schools, 45 percent of teachers agreed they were satisfied with their salary.

Why is there a growing demand for teachers? ›

Population growth.

The number of school-age students is expected to grow. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), total elementary and secondary enrollment is projected to increase 2% between fall 2016 and fall 2026, when enrollment is expected to reach 56.8 million.

Why are teachers so underpaid? ›

Teachers get paid so little because education is underfunded in the United States. This equation has other factors, but this is the prime reason. The professional group of teachers has not experienced a salary increase in quite a long time.

What can teachers do to improve? ›

7 Ways That Teachers Can Improve Their Lessons
  • Use ICT tools and digital game-based learning.
  • Differentiate between students.
  • Use the flipped classroom model.
  • Encourage cooperative learning.
  • Communicate with colleagues.
  • Communicate with parents.
  • Create a welcoming environment.
  • Conclusion.
Sep 7, 2021

How can teachers improve quality and effectiveness? ›

How to Improve Teaching Quality and Effectivness
  1. Make your expectations clear.
  2. Make eye contact and address students by name.
  3. Supplement lectures with hands-on activities.
  4. Recognize students' accomplishments and respond appropriately to their concerns.
Mar 24, 2021

How quickly do teachers move up the pay scale? ›

The pay awards vary by profession. The new pay scales for teachers and school leaders for 2022-2023 have been confirmed by the Department for Education. Teachers across the country will benefit from pay increases of between 5% and 8.9% which will be backdated from 1st September 2022.

Is it okay to negotiate salary increase? ›

To negotiate a pay rise from a strong position, you must clearly quantify the value you add to the company. The goal is to position yourself as a valuable high performer who would be difficult to replace.

Can I ask for a raise as a teacher? ›

Prepare in advance. Emphasize that you see yourself with the school or district for the long run. Show your value through specific examples.

Will the government increase teachers salary? ›

The minister of state for primary education Kamanda Bataringaya has said Government will as earlier planned increase teachers'' salaries by 15%.

What is the solution to the teacher shortage? ›

Increase Funding for Teachers and Schools

Both state and federal governments need to invest in incentives to attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Federal or state grants might draw more prospective teachers to preparation programs in academic areas where there is a scarcity of teachers.

What justifies a salary increase? ›

Reason for the Request

Common reasons include: Your boss promised you a raise at the end of your probationary period, your responsibilities have increased or you received a promotion.

How do I write a letter of increase for salary? ›

What to Include in a Salary Increase Letter
  1. The letter's purpose. ...
  2. Your reason for the request. ...
  3. Your justification(s) for receiving a raise. ...
  4. The salary you want. ...
  5. Room for negotiation You never want to come across as demanding in a salary increase letter. ...
  6. Appreciation for consideration.
Jan 19, 2023

Why do most teachers quit? ›

Teachers often cite working conditions, such as the support of their principals and the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, as the top reason for leaving. More than 1 in 4 teachers who leave say they do so to pursue other career opportunities.

Why are alot of teachers quitting? ›

Other factors impacting teacher retention include heavy workload, low pay and escalating living costs, with some 80% of survey respondents saying it was difficult to find affordable housing close to where they teach. Many also cited a lack of support from district administrators.

Are teachers underpaid in the US? ›

Teachers earn 23.5% less than comparable college graduates Public school teacher weekly wage penalty (or premium) for all teachers and by gender, 1979–2021.

Do teachers make a good living? ›

Yes, educators absolutely do and can live well on a teacher's salary. It's all about what you value. If after reading this post you feel that teaching is not the best career choice for you, that's fine. It's good to know what you want vs.

Why do good teachers burnout? ›

It's caused by chronic stress due to unrelenting workplace demands. The National Education Association defines teacher burnout as “a condition in which an educator has exhausted the personal and professional resources necessary to do the job.” It's not just about the ability to educate effectively, though.

What percentage of teachers are happy with their job? ›

About 60% of teachers are happy with their careers.

With only 28% saying they rated their pay at either four or five out of five stars. The average U.S. public school teacher's salary is $65,090, while the average salary across all occupations for people with a bachelor's degree is $67,860.

Which state needs teachers the most? ›

According to U.S. Department of Education data from the 2022-2023 school year, Maine is experiencing the most teacher vacancies in special education, math, science, language arts, early childhood, elementary core subjects, art and music, and career and technical education.

What are the biggest challenges facing teachers today? ›

10 Challenges Of Teaching & How To Overcome Them
  • Understanding the different learning challenges amongst students. ...
  • Student family problems & bullying. ...
  • Lack of funding. ...
  • Lack of effective communication. ...
  • Being encouraging and motivating under challenging times. ...
  • Disciplining students. ...
  • Endless paperwork & extended working hours.

Which state has the highest teacher salary? ›

Highest-Paid Teachers By State
RankStateAverage Teacher Salary
3New York$57,919
46 more rows
Dec 4, 2022

What state has the most underpaid teachers? ›

The state with the lowest average teacher salary in the US is Mississippi, at around $48,000 a year.

What is the average teacher salary? ›

Find out what the average Teacher salary is

The average teacher salary in Ireland is € 37 538 per year or € 19.25 per hour. Entry-level positions start at € 30 000 per year, while most experienced workers make up to € 48 812 per year.

Why do teachers get apples? ›

In the United States, early American children gave teachers apples because the “families whose children attended schools were often responsible for housing and feeding frontier teachers,” according to a PBS special, titled “Frontier House, Frontier Life,” and noted in Smithsonian Magazine.

What should a teacher need to improve? ›

In-Classroom Suggestions for Teacher Improvement
  • Start small, think big. ...
  • Utilize the latest technologies. ...
  • Prioritize student relationships. ...
  • Empower parents to be your ally. ...
  • Ensure your curriculum knowledge.

What three things can teachers do better? ›

Below are 6 things teachers and educators can do to enhance their personal professional development practices...
  • Focus on the Subject Matter and the Students' Learning. ...
  • Try Something New. ...
  • Make Use of Tutoring. ...
  • Improve Your Performance.
Jul 1, 2016

How school leaders can help improve teacher quality? ›

A school leader should routinely observe and evaluate a teacher's classroom to identify areas of need and weakness and to create an individual plan for that teacher to improve in those areas. An evaluation should be thorough, especially for those teachers who have been identified as needing significant improvement.

What is the teachers pay Award for 2023? ›

The Department for Education has recommended a pay rise of 3 per cent for experienced teachers in 2023-24 in its evidence to the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB).

How much do most teachers make a week? ›

As of Mar 3, 2023, the average weekly pay for a Teacher in the United States is $633 a week. While ZipRecruiter is seeing weekly wages as high as $1,038 and as low as $298, the majority of Teacher wages currently range between $461 (25th percentile) to $711 (75th percentile) across the United States.

How much government teachers get paid per month? ›

Teacher salaries in South Africa are based on notches which vary on position and level of experience. The entry-level notch (notch 001) now offers an annual salary of R128,838 (R10,700 per month), but this climbs all the way up to notch 432, which offers an annual salary of R1,098,408 (R91,500 per month).

How do you politely ask for a salary increase? ›

Tips for asking for a raise
  1. List your accomplishments from the past six months, the past year and your time with the company. ...
  2. Know what a competitive salary looks like for your position. ...
  3. Let your boss know what's in it for them. ...
  4. Be confident. ...
  5. Provide your request in writing.
Feb 21, 2023

How do you argue for salary increase? ›

Learning to be a negotiator
  1. Do your homework. Just because the salary offer feels like it is enough to cover your expenses doesn't necessarily mean that it is the market average. ...
  2. Know your value. ...
  3. Ignore your previous salary. ...
  4. Give an exact number. ...
  5. Think beyond your base salary. ...
  6. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.
Jan 5, 2023

What can I say to negotiate a salary increase? ›

One of the best ways to convince your employer you deserve a raise is to highlight your specific accomplishments that helped the company achieve its goals. Doing this can help you demonstrate the value you bring to the team is worth the increased salary.

Can you negotiate teacher pay? ›

Some teaching salaries have room for negotiation, while teachers in other jobs agree to employment contracts at rates determined by a salary chart without any room for negotiations. Instructors working in the private industry have the widest range for salary discussions.

What are some reasons to ask for a raise? ›

When to Ask for a Raise
  • Your Employer Posted Strong Quarterly Earnings. ...
  • You Aced a Performance Review. ...
  • You Made a Significant Achievement. ...
  • You Find Out You're Being Underpaid. ...
  • You Took On More Job Responsibilities. ...
  • You Received a Job Offer from Another Company. ...
  • You Just Hit the One-Year Mark. ...
  • You Received a Promotion.

What is a good second job for a teacher? ›

10 Best Side Jobs for Teachers
  • 10 Best Side Jobs for Teachers. Tutor. ...
  • Tutor. ...
  • Summer School Teacher. ...
  • Sell Teaching Resources. ...
  • Teach Continuing Education Courses. ...
  • Transcriber. ...
  • Paper/Test Grader. ...
  • Teach Creative Skills.

Can you make 6 figures as a teacher? ›

I had to put in time and money to be in this position, whereas in other professions, someone can step right into a six-figure salary job straight out of college. Yes, it was my choice to become a teacher. But I am glad my salary has finally caught up to reflect the value and expertise I bring to the profession.

Why do teachers get paid so little? ›

Teachers get paid so little because education is underfunded in the United States. This equation has other factors, but this is the prime reason. The professional group of teachers has not experienced a salary increase in quite a long time.

How can I increase my income at school? ›

Campus Jobs
  1. Become a Teaching Assistant (TA) If you've taken any intro-level or gen-ed class at your university, you've probably had a TA. ...
  2. Be a Research Assistant. ...
  3. Become a Resident Assistant (RA) ...
  4. Give Campus Tours. ...
  5. Work in Campus IT. ...
  6. Host Prospective Students. ...
  7. Work in Campus Dining. ...
  8. Drive for Campus Transportation.
Dec 15, 2022

What teachers get paid the most? ›

Salaries for educators vary widely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for K-12 teachers is around $61,000 .
Highest-paying jobs in education
  1. School superintendent. ...
  2. K-12 principal. ...
  3. Dean of students. ...
  4. College professor. ...
  5. Instructional coordinator.
Feb 16, 2023

What type of teacher is most in demand? ›

Which teaching subject is most in demand? While specific needs vary by institution, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are subjects that are always in high demand.

What kind of teacher is in high demand? ›

According California's reported statewide academic disciplines or subject matter areas most in need are: English/Drama/Humanities, History/Social Science, Math/Computer Education, Science, and Special Education.

Can you survive on a teacher salary? ›

Living on a teacher salary is more than possible and it doesn't necessarily mean you can't have any fun. As long as you know what money is coming in monthly, what needs to go out to bills monthly, and use what's left responsibly, you will not have to stress about money (as much).

Can teachers be millionaires? ›

As of 2015, there were 12 “millionaires” thanks to Teachers Pay Teachers. Today, more than 300 teachers can claim that status, having earned at least $1 million in profits from their online stores, according to the company.

Which state has the highest teacher pay? ›

Highest-Paid Teachers By State
3New York$89,000
46 more rows
Dec 4, 2022

What state has the lowest teacher salary? ›

Which states pay teachers the most and least?
  • The state with the lowest average teacher salary in the US is Mississippi, at around $48,000 a year. ...
  • Which states pay teachers the most, normalized by cost of living?
Nov 8, 2022

Why so many teachers are quitting? ›

Many of the predominant challenges teachers face, including safety concerns, low salaries, funding deficits and declining mental health, are not new issues — but the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has intensified existing problems within the profession.

How to make an extra $2,000 a month? ›

How to Make an Extra $2,000 a Month Working From Home
  1. Freelance Writing. ...
  2. Become a Virtual Assistant. ...
  3. Give Direct Sales a Go. ...
  4. Try One of These Side Hustle Ideas. ...
  5. Become a Freelancer. ...
  6. Get Creative. ...
  7. Start a Blog. ...
  8. Become a Proofreader.
Dec 7, 2022

How can I raise my income without education? ›

How to make money without a degree
  1. Invest in the stock market. If you are someone who is financially savvy, it's possible to make money in the stock market. ...
  2. Start your own business. ...
  3. Sell stuff online. ...
  4. Rent out your property. ...
  5. Start a consulting service. ...
  6. Take stock photography. ...
  7. Start a blog.
Jan 29, 2021


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