The Teacher Salary Gap

The 2011-12 Teacher Salary Analysis by the Arkansas Department of Education clearly demonstrates the priorities of the state’s 238 public school districts when it comes to the recruitment, retention and rewarding of teachers.

Despite all the talk about performance, teacher salaries are generally based on two factors: 1) Degree(s)/Additional Hours and 2) Longevity.

The state’s top salaries for both new and top of the scale veteran teachers are in Springdale, with salaries ranging from $43,320 (BA – 0 Years) to $71,820 (MA – Top of Scale).

Little Rock, the state’s largest and richest district, is firmly in the top ten for veteran teachers, ranking fifth (BA – 15 Years), seventh (BA – Top of Scale), sixth (MA – 15 Years), and ninth (MA – Top of Scale).

Little Rock is a union-certified (Little Rock Education Association) collective bargaining district. Springdale, along with most every other public school district in the state, is not. 

Glaringly, starting salaries in Little Rock rank 71st in the state for those with a BA ($33,285) and 42nd for those with a Masters ($38,309). That’s a 95% ($31,556) difference between the bottom and top of the scale ($64,841). By contrast, Springdale has a 66% ($28,500) difference.

Factor in payroll-deducted, district-collected union dues of $701 annually, and Little Rock starting teachers who join the union rank 91st in Arkansas. 

My household is a member of three unions, and our dues are based on income. In the LREA/AEA/NEA, every teacher pays the same. For first year teachers, that’s over 2% of his/her income. For top of the scale teachers, it’s 1%. Talk about a regressive tax.

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