Pa. tenth in teachers’ wages

By Carli Pio
October 30, 2003

kansa city star/KRT

Are teachers underpaid? It is a statement that has left teachers standing outside of their schools, carrying large banners, expressing their personal opinions on the issue, for years.
The truth is, the position that people have of teachers being underpaid could very well be inaccurate.
With Cabrini’s most populated major being education, there may be a question as to why a number of the people that enter the institution declaring education as their major choose to select a different career direction before the time of their graduation. Is it the Praxis tests, the lack of available teaching positions, or arguably, the salary?
The Praxis is a test that 80 percent of states require as part of their teacher licensure process. As a result of how strongly the test is stressed, and the degree that it is examined by possible employers, it has driven some of the potential teachers to stray from their initial drive to obtain their teaching degrees.
“Scores on the Praxis make the difference if students are staying with their major,” Cooperative Education and Career Services Director Nancy Hutchison said. “Competition is very difficult in Pennsylvania’s teaching systems. Requirements for education majors have gone way up.”
“I chose not to stick with elementary education like I had planned, mainly because of the Praxis,” 2003 Cabrini graduate John Verdi said. “Instead I am pursuing my Master’s at Salisbury University for postsecondary education. I am planning to stick with higher education, and hopefully pursue my career within Student Affairs, mainly with first year students. I would eventually like to obtain my PhD. Now I am pursuing a degree that will allow me to make about the same salary, if not more, as any high paying school district, and I don’t have to take six certified tests to do so.”
Verdi also said, “I did waste a lot of money on those tests that I was taking since my sophomore year, and it would have been nice if we were encouraged more as sophomores to understand the outcomes of the tests more.”
For students that would hope to teach locally in the Philadelphia area, or even in the state of Pennsylvania, the task of finding an open position matching all of your teaching desires, is a difficult one, especially coming right out of college.
Most of the teaching positions that are open attract large numbers of applicants, and the more experienced applicants are selected, unless one might know someone in the system. “A lot of it is who you know and how you network yourself,” said Hutchison. “Graduates need to be willing to re-locate to areas more north or south of our location.”
“I think teachers are doing quite well. Years ago they were definitely underpaid. Within the last decade or so their wages have been drastically improved,” Hutchison said.
Pennsylvania remains to receive one of the top pay scales for educators. In fact, the average salary that a teacher receives in the state was $50,600 during the 2001-2002 school year, ranking Pennsylvania 10th in the country.
“In Philadelphia, the starting salary is $36,175. As a recent graduate without many bills to pay, I find this to be a great pay,” Melissa Kelshaw, a 2003 Cabrini graduate, said.
Kelshaw graduated Cabrini with a major in special/elementary education. She is currently a seventh grade special education learning support teacher, part time, at Roberto Clemente Middle School, which is located in North Philadelphia, in the Philadelphia School District.
“In reality, teachers put in many hours of unpaid overtime that goes unnoticed, but it is work that is necessary to better serve the students. Teachers do not have what we call, a “clock in-clock out” job. Teachers get paid from 8-3, regardless of how late they leave the classroom,” Kelshaw said.
Students are always welcome to stop by Grace Hall to Nancy Hutchison’s office. She is more than happy to suggest promising teaching positions and places that are well in need of young new faces for their classrooms.
“Teaching is a career that someone must choose because they are sincere about it. Choose to teach because you want to educate children, and make a difference,” Kelshaw said.

Posted to the web by: Cecelia Francisco

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Carli Pio

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