Ga. teacher salaries not keeping pace with cost of living increases

by | December 28, 2005 12:00 am

According to statistics just released from the annual update of the National Education Association’s “Rankings & Estimates, A Report of School Statistics,” Georgia’s average teacher salaries have not kept pace with inflation over the past year. The report shows that the average Georgia teacher salary rose only 1.2 percent against an inflation rate of 3.1 percent. “This is only confirming what we said would happen in 2004 with the Georgia General Assembly’s deferment of the salary increase until January,” said Dr. Merchuria Chase Williams, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). “We indicated at that time that the so-called two percent increase only would amount to approximately one percent.

That, coupled with rising health care premiums, higher co-pays, decreasing benefits, and a change in the state health plan, has essentially put a stranglehold on our teachers’ ability to earn a living and care for their health and that of their families.”

The report also highlighted that:

 Georgia had the third highest percentage increase (2 percent) in student enrollment

behind Arizona and Nevada respectively, and

 Georgia’s studentteacher ratio increased by .8 percent.

Williams says the report’s findings underscore the need to do what is necessary to retain and attract the best teachers for Georgia. “GAE will be asking the legislature next year for at least a straight six percent increase in teacher salaries or a slightly lower increase (five percent) coupled with some relief in health care costs. Our teachers expect and deserve a significant pay raise and help with their increasing health care costs. We also will be seeking to have educator representation on the board of the Georgia Department of Community Health and greater oversight of its operations.”

The report shows Georgia falling two places to 18th ($46,526) in the nation for average teacher salaries. However, Georgia is still number one among Southeastern states with Virginia ($44,763) making the largest stride to place second. The U.S. national average is $47,808. “We had been only a couple of hundred dollars away from finally reaching the national average,” said Williams. “Now Georgia is more than $1,000 off the pace.”

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