Teachers struggling with growing housing crisis and low pay

Teachers across the U.S. are struggling to make enough money while affording to live in the districts they serve, The Guardian reports.

Research by the Economic Policy Institute’s Sylvia Allegretto found that public school teachers nationally make nearly 24 percent less in weekly earnings than similarly credentialed college graduates in other fields. 

When benefits such as healthcare were taken into account, the total compensation penalty was 14 percent, making it the widest gap since 1979.

It’s called a “wage penalty.” 

The wage penalty makes it increasingly difficult for teachers to live in the same communities as their students, forcing them to commute extensive distances to and from school, rent rooms from parents, take on second jobs, and live in school district-operated housing.

Experts say that while educators have two, three, or four degrees, and are responsible for teaching all professions, they are not making enough or more than all of the professions they brought forward. 

Astronauts, physicists, doctors, lawyers, construction workers, plumbers, electricians — educators are responsible for them all. 

Ongoing negotiations between teachers’ unions and school districts in recent years in Chicago, Los Angeles, and elsewhere have increasingly centered around compelling districts to address housing affordability challenges their employees face beyond raising salaries and bolstering benefits.

The pandemic shined a light on the underfunding of the education system overall, experts say. It highlighted the impacts that underfunding has on teachers and their families and communities. 

The Covid pandemic further illuminated the disparities within the education system for students and teachers, forcing districts to reckon with what investments in salaries and beyond the need to be made. 

Housing impacts students, teachers, families, communities, and everyone. And it’s making it hard for educators to live in the communities that they serve because of the housing burden. 

Prior to the pandemic, the long-trending erosion in the relative wages and total compensation of teachers was already a serious concern. 

The financial penalty that teachers face discourages college students from entering the teaching profession and makes it difficult for school districts to keep current teachers in the classroom. 

Trends in teacher pay coupled with pandemic challenges may exacerbate annual shortages of regular and substitute teachers.

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