CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Education Association is pushing for a multi-year commitment to make teachers’ salaries competitive with surrounding states.

In its “Competitive Pay Campaign” launched Monday, the WVEA aims to educate the public and lawmakers about what it labeled as a pay crisis for West Virginia teachers.

“It isn’t that we have a shortage of teacher graduates in our state,” said WVEA president Dale Lee. “We have a shortage of graduates that are willing to stay in our state and work at a salary that we offer.”

The average salary for teachers in West Virginia currently sits at $45,453, ranked 48th in the nation. The national average is $55,431.

Lee said the state currently is an exporter of teachers to surrounding states that pay better. The average salary for teachers is $48,917 in Virginia and substantially higher in Ohio ($57,140) and Pennsylvania ($62,569).

“When you have more than 1,500 who graduate at West Virginia colleges with teaching degrees and only attract 400-plus to stay in the state (yet) we have all these other vacancies around,” Lee said. “It tells you that this is a severe crisis we have.”

Raleigh County began this year with 74 vacancies. That is why the WVEA is focusing its efforts this year through the campaign on increasing salaries of educators to a level that is competitive with surrounding states.

“This is about attracting people into the profession and have them become employed in West Virginia and to make education a career—not just a stop along the way to something or somewhere else,” he said.

WVEA officials have not publicized the salary plan they will present to lawmakers. Every $1,000 increase in salary will cost the state about $46.4 million.

“So while we haven’t put a dollar figure on this amount, we know that it has to be a multi-year and it has to be substantial,” Lee said.

Lee claimed the state has tried many reforms, trends and tricks to improve public education in the state, but have neglected the employees that fuel the learning in the public schools.

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  • FungoJoe

    Man, we were on pins and needles yesterday waiting for the"big announcement".
    Wow. It had to do with another pay raise for teachers. Who'd a thunk it? Who saw that coming?

    • ConservativeRealist

      I was SHOCKED!!!

      • Joe

        I tell ya, whoever produced those charts did a nice job on the graphics.

  • WVU86

    I hope teachers do not get any pay raises anytime soon for two primary reasons.
    1. As others have noted, our state, though in the black, is on a very tight budget. Where is the extra money to come from without putting our state in debt and in financial crisis? I never hear these union heads offer solutions to this.
    2. In countless other professions, with pay raises, comes increased expectations. I say no pay raises unless additional standards tied to teacher performance are part of the package. You want a raise, then be willing to accept the responsibility to raise the low standards public schools are currently entrenched.

  • WC

    I always see a figure like this when discussing teacher salaries $45,453. We are not all making the state average. We must have a lot of teachers that have 25 years or more experience and a masters' degree. I have a masters' degree and 5 years experience, and I am just now making $39,439. That is with a pay increase for a masters' degree plus 15 hours, and yearly increments for 5 years experience. Not all teachers are making the state average of $45,000 a year. Many see this number and think everyone makes this amount. Begining teachers with a bachelor's degree start out at $29,198. Now given the starting salary and the cost for paying for your eduaction after getting a job it is no wonder so many leave, and teach in other states. Many bus drivers, cooks, and custodians that have several years experience make more than a begininng teacher or a teacher with 10 years experience. By the way how many of you at your current jobs are required to take two college classes and pay for them while doing your regular job to keep your job.

    • tim b

      been in school system for 18 yrs 14yrs as bus driver in maintenance 5yrs i make 32,000 yr that a full yr not 9 mths and we have out of state teachers and principals in our country im thankfull i have a good job. i tried of hearing bus drives cooks custodians make more money then teachers get your facts straight teachers make a lot more then they do

    • Rick

      The average is $45,453 per year. Yes, some teachers make less than that and some teachers make more than that -- that is how averages work. But the average is still $45,453 per year, which is not bad. In my opinion, starting out at $29,198 with a bachelor's degree is not bad, either. In 1995, I started out as an accountant at $16,500 with a master's degree. And as time went on, I steadily climbed the salary scale. In order to tighten the mean, perhaps the higher-paid teachers would be willing to take pay cuts in order to pay more to the lower-paid teachers. That would help close the discrepancy gap a little and make the profession more attractive to those just starting out.

      Regarding the "two college classes and pay for them while doing your regular job to keep your job," that is part of the job -- you knew that going in and that is part of the reason teachers are paid more than the average working person. Many of us are required to take several (or many) hours of CPE each year at our own expense, and we do it.

      I am all for paying teachers well. I think teaching is a fine profession and good teachers should be compensated well. I do, however, take issue with hollow and illogical arguments. And most of the reasons given for teacher raises basically come down to raises for raises sake.

      Comparing West Virginia to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland is nice, but we need to remember that West Virginia is a far, far poorer state than Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Maryland. The story says that West Virginia teachers' pay ranks 48th in the nation. Well, when it comes to wealth, West Virginia is about 48th in the nation. So that would make the current teacher pay about right.

      What we really need to do is increase the overall wealth and economic viability of the entire state, and then raise teacher pay and other state worker pay accordingly, and make West Virginia a better place for all West Virginians.

      • DG

        Thank you for some logic, Rick. As I scanned the responses, I was thinking along the same line of thought. We are, in general, a poor state. It should be no surprise that teachers in WV rank near the bottom when compared to surrounding states and national averages. You could take accounting, or any profession, and those employed inside WV will more than likely make far less than those doing a similar job in a surrounding state. Those of us who live in WV usually understand that dynamic, but have other reasons we choose to stay here (family, low crime, small-town feel, etc.).

  • Doom

    Teachers want a pay raise. Every year the same thing. Other states make more than what we are paid. We are not respected. We work late. We work in the summer. You do deserve more money, however your pay raises should be based on your observations and evaluations and performance of the students you teach. Just because you have 15 years as a teacher does not garuntee a raise. Some of the worst teachers are the ones that become complacent after years in the classroom.

    • Micha

      Guarantee....not garuntee. I blame your teacher for your spelling failure.

  • Independent View

    As JOE has very aptly pointed out, the usual mantra of the teachers and their unions of: "it's the parent's fault" has been ditched. The "retreaded" mantra has become, WV is loosing its teachers to other states because we are 48th in pay. This sad refrain is the retreaded, "if you give us raises and enhanced fringe benefits, student performance will improve." Not so, after decades of raises and enhanced benefits, WV's educational system continues its downward spiral! This poster is not oppossed to teacher pay raises, but it MUST be tied to an individual teacher's performance. For a degree-holding segement, I fail to understand why teachers cannot grasp the concept that raises should always be tied to performance. The private sector operates under this premise and very successfully too, but teachers fail to or refuse to acknowledge this fact. No more raises and no more school bond levies for this voter until student performance shows dramatic improvement. These comments are not posted by someone that dropped out at the sixth grade, lives up an unnamed holler, without access to news and current events and lives off public assistance. This poster has more post secondary education degrees that most teachers. Wake up teachers, your unions are selling YOU a bill of goods and are largely responsible for the grassroots movement against school levies and pay raises that are NOT tied to performance.

    • JC

      The education system is severely flawed. You demand that teachers show improvement and substantial gains, but I believe you are unaware of today's challenges a teacher faces on a daily basis. Don't you think we want to make a difference!? You are unaware of all the factors that may create successful or unsuccessful student gains. It is much more complicated than a teacher doing a better job. It takes a whole community to make the difference that needs to be made in our schools to help the amount of students that come from low income homes, homes where kids tell you their parents are in jail, homes where kids don't get enough to eat, homes where they don't have any supervision, and those students who need challenges. Our system is flawed and it's going to take a major overhaul to see the kind of improvements you're looking for. Education is not even close to being simple, although it should be. Teachers are not superheroes as much as we pray and dream to be. We are not the enemy and yes it's sad when teachers don't make enough to barely pay the necessary bills. It's not okay.

  • lifetimehunter

    First off: education is always changing. What we parents learned in school has changed. I find it sad educators blame parents for not doing enough when we get a paper to help our kids with and no directions on how you want it done. Second: plain and simple when I took my job I did so with the understanding of what it pays. Teachers were well aware they won't get rich doing it. Hold your head high with your degree with no care in the world about other state employees. If you want more find a new line of work. Give the raises to state hospital employees, bus drivers, and all who have been left out due to teacher greed.

    • Micha

      LifetimeHunter, it is a shame that you are part of the problem and not the solution. If you notice that your childs teacher does not give good directions on a "paper" then call or set up a meeting to ensure your child gets everyhting out of the class you want and they need. Your comment is nothing more than blaming the teacher again. First and foremost, you are the parent and the welfare of your child rests solely on your shoulders. Don't use the teacher as your scapegoat for not doing everything you can to help your child. They only have a teacher for 9 months, you have them for a lifetime. They deserve your best as much as the deserve the teachers best.

      • lifetimehunter

        Micha I have a daughter that is a 4.0 student at d & e and graduates this year. My wife and I did something right. Part of the problem???

        • ConservativeRealist

          Congrats to you as parents and to your daughter!!!

  • Jeff

    I'm proud to say I'm I'm my 23rd year of teaching in WV. Eleven years ago I took a job in Maryland that came with a 30% pay increase. After one year I was fortunate enough to get my old job back in the Eastern Panhandle. Money is not the answer. Treating teachers with respect is.

  • wvu999

    Keep paying the minimum and complaining that your child's teacher isn't the best.

  • a concerned educator

    Until the true issues facing education are resolved, nothing will change. It is difficult for teachers to meet the needs of students when these same students bring so much baggage from home. Some parents don't help their children when it comes to homework, and they are not supportive of the entire education process. When a child is not encouraged to succeed in any facet of life, the negative effects are far reaching. This is not the fault of the teacher, but teachers are the ones who are blamed.

    In addition, teachers have too much paperwork to have the time to truly teach. They are also constantly evaluated based on the performance of their students, as well as their teaching skills. The WV Department of Education, as well as county school systems, are always sending "trained" evaluators into teacher's classrooms to help "improve" the system. However, these interruptions (and that is EXACTLY what they are) do no good.

    The real change will come when teachers are allowed to teach, paperwork is reduced to manageable levels, parents are held responsible for their part of the situation, the information teachers are required to teach is developmentally appropriate, and the "Ivory Tower Crowd" in Charleston (both elected officials and the State Department and Board of Eds.) leave teachers and principals alone to do their jobs.

    Pay based on student performance is not the answer since there is so much diversity among students, classrooms, and county school systems. If we want to base pay on performance, our legislature should OWE the state money.

    As an individual who is married to a teacher, and one who helps their spouse in the evenings and almost every weekend work in their classroom, I can attest to the hard work that teachers do. I was also once a teacher, and I know the hours I spent in my classroom. Good teachers have a very difficult job because unfortunately, they have many bosses.....most of whom are untrained in the field.

    • bulldog95

      I thought that a child went to school to learn, not bring back 3 hours of homework. I see it time and time again, so much homework that its beyond mindblowing. The movie watching just to fill a day has got to go too. How can anyone take a teacher serious when anyone can walk into a school during the last 3 or 4 weeks of school, or the week prior to spring break or christmas and find 3 or 4 teachers showing a movie.

  • the truth

    People complain about teachers want raises. The problem is that even with all their request for pay raises they still only get crumbs. When you have to beg and scream and complain to get crumbs it still sucks.
    You have regular state workers who have no representations that matters get nothing. So do not fault the union for trying to improve their workers salary. I am all for merit or performance based pay. Our legislature and Tomblin care only about taking care of their political cronies.

    • bulldog95

      If they really care about their union brothers they would slash or do away with those union dues.

  • Joe

    Tell you what, Mr. Lee, you commit to retransitioning your members from a pension plan back to the 401(k) plan, and agree to fully back a formal performance evaluation program, then we the taxpayers paying the bill will be more than happy to include merit-based raises for teachers.

    • Leo

      You have a cushy office job, don't you, Joe? With bonuses and are finished at 5? Well I too stay till 5, then I go home and work another 2-3 hours, weekends and during the summer to prepare for the next year. gasp, i said the summer, you know the free time I get paid for. Grow up, if it weren't for teachers you wouldn't have that job, unless daddy provided it for you. We are constantly being evaluated and take the hit for all the kids and parents who don't value education and yet that is our fault also.

      • ConservativeRealist

        Leo...quite the response...Let me give you some insight into the, "cushy office" jobs - they have these pesky little things like (a) drug testing - not only to get a job but keep it, (b) performance expectations with regular employee performance evaluations and appraisals, (c) silly little things like compulsory overtime, benefit reductions, non-employer funded retirement(s), and, heaven forbid - dare I say - DRESS CODES!!!, and (d) their raises and/or other benefits are directly tied to the performance of the company and/or business - in other words, if the "test scores" are good across the board, raises may - I emphasize MAY - come... I have three children - one has graduated and two are in public schools - my observation(s) have been that most teachers are out the door and off the lot before the buses leave in the evening. Teachers in Kanawha County in high school work ffrom 7:00 ish until 2:30 - with a set lunch and a prep period...for 180 instructional days out of 263 work days in a year...counting the 20 days worked before and after school starts and ends - if they work that may, that still leaves 8+ weeks off for holidays and vacations, sick, etc.

        If the teacher lobby wants to knoiw why those of us who work in, "cushy office" jobs don't feel their pain, all they have to do is read posts like Leo' would appear obvious to the educated...

      • Rick

        That is quite a retort there, Leo. Real mature (that was sarcasm, by the way).

      • bulldog95

        Get over yourself. You have a job where your biggest concern for the day is probably to not spill coffee on yourself. The average salary at 45,453. Not that you care in that little bubble of yours but my father busted his butt for over 28 years in the mines and the only way he ever came close to that number was with 5 hours of overtime a week, every week. You may go home tired at the end of the day, but you do not know tired. Did I mention get over yourself.

      • wvtd

        stop whining. if you do not like your cushy union 9 months out of the year job go back to school. our kids get dummer by the year and the union has it's hand out again.

      • Guardian

        I have one of those "cushy" office jobs. You do not have a grasp of what my job entails. Finished a 5? I'd love it. Frequently, to meet internal deadlines or customer expectations, my work day ends at 7, 8, even 9 in the evening. Then there is the travel - up a 3:30 in the morning to catch the 6:30 flight. Meetings all day after arrival - dinner meetings followed by working sessions stretching to 10 or 11 at night. Up the next morning at 4 to catch the flight home - arrive home at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, then work to 8 or 9 to "catch up" on what you missed on the one day whirlwind trip. Yeah, cushy. Divorce rate in my profession exceeds national averages. Wonder why?

        Also, Saturdays & Sundays off? Right. Saturdays & Sundays is when you try to get your desk caught up to be ready for Monday morning.

        Cushy? You should walk in my shoes and all the others like me in the business world before you start with the accusations.

        Are you educating your students to jump to conclusions? Or are you teaching them to research before drawing conclusions.

  • bruisershields

    The sun comes up and Wveda thinks teachers need a raise. Coal revenues are down and the state budget will have a big hole in it. The teachers need a raise. Then let's raise taxes or cut spending for every other agency. Cut children's programs, programs for the elderly. The teachers need a raise. Ho hum.

  • lifetimehunter

    Here we go again....

  • Joe

    Uh....not all reforms have been tried. Implementation of performance appraisals with the top 30 percent based on evaluation score receiving a raise.

    Another question, how do raises solve the "it's the parents fault" mantra constantly used for the reason of sub-performing schools?!

  • GW

    At this point, I am just glad to have a job in WV. I don't see the need for a pay raise. I would like to see schools renovated and supplied properly. I feel well compensated for time worked.