Teacher pay and benefits have made headlines over the past few weeks, with walkouts and strikes by teachers in Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. A New York Times piece from earlier this week quotes a teacher who likens the movement to a wildfire. Indeed, with so much unfolding so quickly, it can be hard to keep up.
A few publications have simplified/demystified/explained/provided context for what’s happening: EdWeek, the Washington Post, and Fortune have tackled the broad topic of teacher compensation with varying levels of detail. And my colleague Chad Aldeman weighed in on teacher pensions for an NPR panel Tuesday (listen to the show here).
But education issues are heavily state and local; the variances across state lines make high-level discussion of educator benefits especially difficult to tackle in traditional explainer pieces. Teacher retirement benefits, in particular, can be especially complex. Those looking to learn more about the intersection of teacher salaries, teacher pensions, and school budgets may be interested in our additional resources:
- Our simple, 3-minute video explains how teacher pension plans work and how they affect millions of public school teachers.
- Over time, teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation, but total teacher compensation has, due to rapidly rising healthcare and pension costs. Read our "Pension Pac-Man" report for more on the national trends.
- Kentucky teachers (and those in 14 other states) aren’t covered by Social Security. More on that in our explainer video here.
- Want to know what teacher retirement looks like in your state? There’s an interactive map for that.
- Knowing your state’s “average teacher pension” can provide context for larger teacher compensation conversations – this chart captures that, but be sure to account for the listed caveats.
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