Contrary to reports, Idaho teacher salaries are improving

An article published this week by Idaho Education News reported that Idaho teacher salaries rank near the bottom nationally. The story, which stems from a study by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that looked at U.S. Census data from 2012 through 2016, does not paint an accurate picture of teacher salaries in Idaho today.

Linda Clark

The article made no mention of progress made in recent years to raise teacher salaries through the Idaho Teacher Career Ladder, a five-year, $250 million plan that is making real progress. The Brookings Institution data was from 2015, the year Idaho launched the career ladder.

To date, after three years of the plan, average teacher pay in Idaho has increased nearly 9 percent across the state.

The 2018 Idaho Legislature appropriated nearly $47 million for year four, which started just two weeks ago. If funds are made available next legislative session for year five, beginning teacher salaries will have received a 29 percent increase in state base salary funding when the career ladder is fully implemented.

Gov. Butch Otter’s K-12 Task Force recommended the career ladder – a tiered plan for improving teacher pay. Task force members and others worked many months to develop this compensation system that is designed to attract and retain teachers, and the legislature approved a five-year phase-in of tiers 1 & 2.

We still have more work to do to make sure our teachers are properly compensated. Progress has been made in attracting teachers and improving mid-career compensation. The issue now is retaining experienced teachers. Many are leaving for new careers that pay more and we lose too many teachers to more lucrative salaries just over the state line.

We have momentum, and Idaho is making headway improving teacher salaries. We at the State Board and many of our public education partners believe the progress is worth noting.

Written by Dr. Linda Clark, president of the Idaho State Board of Education.

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