Idaho teachers make less than those in neighboring states, report says

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Matt Slocum

FILE - In this Thursday, March 11, 2021 file photo, desks are arranged in a classroom at an elementary school in Nesquehoning, Pa. In the fall of 2021, vaccinated teachers and students should no longer wear masks inside school buildings and no one need bother with them outside, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday, July 9, 2021, in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.

BOISE, Idaho– There’s no arguing that teachers are an important part of childhood learning. Add in all the extra tasks and work they’ve been asked to take on during the pandemic, they could even be considered everyday superheroes.

A new report from the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy says teachers in the state are ditching those figurative capes and calling it quits. The reason? Poor pay.

The report says teachers in the Gem State make less than educators in neighboring states. It says the annual salary of an Idaho teacher fell from $55,000 in 2009 to $53,000 in 2019. In comparison, the study says teacher salaries in Washington, Oregon and Wyoming increased by 12-percent between the 2009-2010 and 2019-2020 school years.

Places that see the biggest gap in pay are border communities like the Panhandle, Western Treasure Valley, and the Teton region.

The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy says the solution would be to invest state funds and money from the American Rescue Plan to give teachers and other school workers a raise.

“Improving classified staff retention through increased pay would benefit children directly, particularly children who were most likely to feel the harms of pandemic-related learning losses. Teacher aides, who are considered classified staff, provide crucial one-on-one and small group supports for children as they work to catch up on lost learning,” part of the report reads.

There is some good news with all of this.

Idaho’s entry-level teachers have seen a bump in pay. Over the past few years, lawmakers have introduced the Teacher Career Ladder, a new pay scale for educators. Because of it, entry-level pay went from $31,000 to $40,369. However, teachers who have been there for longer periods of time have not seen the same kind of pay increase. The third rung of the career ladder was not passed until 2019.

The Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy described itself as a nonprofit that works to give people in the state fact-based information and analysis to help make informed policy decisions.

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