“Teachers deserve a fair wage” is a sound bite as old as public education and the underspending that accompanies it. As Shivy Brooks, an educator and thought leader, says “The conversation around teacher pay has always been rooted in lip service”. We are at a historic time of teacher turnover and of a shortage of teachers across the board, and a time when California is pushing universal Pre-K, we are still finding it impossible to get teachers for it. Even though salary is not the only concern, it has become a consistent talking point, along with the stories of new teachers being paid poverty wages.

Saturday at the Extra Yard for Teachers Summit, put on by Get Your Teach On, Mr. Brooks interviewed the current Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona. During the interview, Mr. Cardona weighed in on his opinion for teacher salary.

He was asked explicitly “What is a reasonable and actionable base salary for teachers across america?” and responded quickly with “six figures”.

This clear pronouncement from the head of the Dept. of Education was met with some cheers from the audience, which was mostly made up of teachers. But he also seemed to put a lot of the onus on state and local governments to come up with the money, something that will be naturally impossible given the very real need to balance state and local budgets, as opposed to the federal budget which doesn’t actually need to be balanced each year.

The conversation around teacher pay has always been rooted in lip service

shivy Brooks

Mr. Brooks provided a rather clear example of the struggles that would be faced by Clark County if they had to provide all the money to bring teachers up to the $60k base salary that the American Teacher Act is proposing and Mr. Cardona acceded to the point that Federal funding would need to be directed that way too for any real change to manifest.

You can watch the relevant part of the interview below.

We still have to wait to see if the American Teacher Act will be able to make its way through a Republican House or if there will be any real steps taken to address teacher pay on a national level or whether Mr. Cardona is just providing more “lip service”. Still, it is a serious relief to not have Betsy Devos at the head driving as fast as she could in the wrong direction.

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