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Are Maryland Teachers The Lowest Paid In The United States?

If you listen to the Maryland State Teachers Association talk about teacher pay, you'll think that Maryland teachers are among the lowest paid in the country. In fact, you will probably be convinced that they are on the verge of abject poverty.

From the MSEA website:

The need to improve salaries is clear. School funding has plateaued and the negative impacts on our profession, and our schools, are unfortunately widespread. Maryland teachers make 84 cents on the dollar compared to peers in similar fields with similar levels of education. Far too many support staff don’t make a living wage and must work multiple jobs to make ends meet. A statewide survey of educators in 2019 found that 50% of educators work a second job to make ends meet and 94% buy school supplies for their students out of their own pockets. 

I think they forgot and mis-stated a few things. First, teachers only work 10 months out of the year (191 days). Whenever anyone mentions that teachers scream to high heaven about taking work home and working at home on weekends as if NO other profession does that when you mention that fact. But, if you think about what percent of the year is 10 months out of 12, that's 83.333% of the year. Wow. Maybe that accounts for that difference between teacher salary and the salary of other comparable professionals that work year-round.

Second, they include "support staff" in those numbers regarding taking second jobs to make ends meet. Support staff are non-certified staff and usually make hourly wage or are paid on a lower scale. Including them in on as "teacher's salaries" skews the data toward the low end. That's why unions do it.

Third, the figures don't include the benefit of health insurance, retirement and other employee perks.

I was a teacher for thirty years. Funny thing is that I only worked a second job during my first two years of teaching. I did it then to save up money to buy a home. After those first two years, I didn't need to do that anymore.

At any rate, NO, Maryland teachers are NOT the lowest paid in the country. Far from it.

From the National Education Association's own site:

Maryland is number 8 in the country and ranks in the top five in starting teacher salary.

To be fair, some counties in the State pay more than what is listed above, some less. Also, the cost of living in some Maryland counties is higher than others.

It's interesting that Maryland ranks in the top ten since the Blueprint for Maryland's Future is mandating that school systems pay first year teachers $60,000 by 2027. That is a $9000 increase over the next three years. The creators of the Blueprint say it's to attract a "high quality and diverse teaching staff." The claim is that pay is keeping that from happening.

That is also wrong. From the article linked below:

The Unions tell everyone that teachers leave because teachers' pay is too low. In reality, teachers talk about poor working conditions, lack of support from administration, burnout, poor morale, and student behavior, especially violence.

As with most government initiatives, the people in charge would rather throw money at problems than actually solve them. The teacher shortage is no different.

There were some good ideas in the Blueprint for retaining teachers including the creation of a promotion ladder for teachers that would allow them to advance to a higher level of prestige, authority and flexibility in schedule as well as pay while staying in the classroom. Now, in order for that to happen, teachers must move out of the classroom and into school or district administration. This has yet to be implemented in any district.

Other ideas were to make it easier to become a teacher. This is the typical response of the "Life is TOO hard" wing of the education establishment. These are the same people who got rid of teaching cursive handwriting, graded homework and memorizing multiplication tables. Their theory about everything is that if it is too hard for SOME to do than NO ONE should have to do it. Based on recent standardized test scores, that approach is a terrible failure. Ask anyone who runs a business that has to train employees.

This group wants to eliminate basic competency skills from the teacher certification while lowering the qualifications for becoming a teacher. This is not only foolish, but also demeaning to teaching as a profession. Great teachers have many strategies and tools to get the most out of students. Yet Maryland belittles that skill and devalues it:

Don't get me wrong. I think a majority of teachers are worth every dime they are paid, especially now with having to deal with out-of-control students and administrators who don't support teachers when they enact discipline in their classrooms. Teaching is hard. It is work. And it is one of the most valuable professions if done correctly.

But we need to dismiss the lie that Maryland teachers are paid less than any teachers in the country.

Jan Greenhawk, Author

May 6, 2024

Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.

This article was originally featured on the Easton Gazette.


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