TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansas was ranked 41st in the country for teacher’s salaries, according to The National Education Association.
This is for the 2017-2018 school year, after being ranked 40th for 2016-2017.
This school year could receive an even worse ranking, with estimates of Oklahoma, which ranked 50th in 2016-2017, bypassing Kansas.
“We know that there are some districts where teachers…have had essentially parent-teacher conferences in the line at the Target check-out because that teacher is a cashier because they have to work that second job,” said Marcus Baltzell, director of communications for Kansas National Education Association (KNEA). “That’s a reality for some teachers in Kansas. That needs to stop.”
During what the KNEA called the “lost decade,” most teachers’ salaries did not increase during the 2017 education finance plan that was signed into law by former Gov. Sam Brownback.
Teachers are still seeing repercussions from this.
“We’ve had a decade where teachers have been disrespected, that’s been apparent in Kansas… we’ve had rights taken away,” Baltzell said. “We’ve had rights to even advocate for students taken away. We have legislatures who attack teachers and their interaction and how they deal with students every year in the legislature.”
Now, schools are experiencing larger class sizes, cuts to programs, and less resources in the classroom, according to Baltzell. This is specifically taking an impact to resources for students with special needs or who are in poverty.
Teachers are working to not let this affect the student’s classroom experience, according to Baltzell.
State universities have also seen a decline in their education programs due to these difficulties, according to Baltzell.
Future and current are also looking at surrounding states when deciding where to work. Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska are all estimated to have higher average salaries this school year than Kansas, according to the KNEA.
Baltzell said the future of teacher’s salaries lies in the school districts and that some are prioritizing this more than others.
“It’s really nice to want to save the world and do that kind of thing as a teacher. But…you shouldn’t have to live in poverty to do it, and unfortunately that’s the reality we have,” Baltzell said.