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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  • Joe

    Dan.....this is by far the best summary from
    an expert on the issue of accountability. Thank you. I now realize that some of my previous comments are out of line with the actual operation of a WV public school.

    You are right, accountability cannot be appropriately applied in this dynamic. Accountability, however, must exist as a foundation for fair and deserved merit raises, so this must be resolved.

    A teacher should notbe accountable to so many points, but I am troubled with your statements on seniority-based student assignment, and the poorer teachers being assigned to the most challenging students.

    Seems like a dirty little secret never discussed.

  • Dan the Man

    Teachers are accountable to other teachers (faculty senate), department heads, students, and administrators at the building level. If a teacher is doing a poor job at teaching nearly everyone within the building knows that they are a poor teacher. They teach lower level classes with students that have a history of behavioral issues. Basically the students that are at risk and probably have bad test scores in the past and will continue to do so. Of course, this is not public knowledge or even discussed, it just happens at schools.

    Teachers are accountable to Superintendent office. I have heard several teachers get yelled at and berated by their superior's. Teachers are put on improvement plans, and sent to work shops to improve classroom management skills and content knowledge.

    Teachers are accountable to the community, and the public. Test scores are public information and every school in the state has scores posted on the West Virginia Department of Education website.

    I do not have a problem being held accountable by westest scores if the students are held accountable. Many states use standardized test to determine if students move on to the next grade...the test should indicate that students have at least mastered the content that was taught during the school year, if not they will be placed in remedial classes, take summer school, or repeat the grade. Most countries around the world also assess in that manner. The teachers and the students are equally held accountable and it is high stakes for all involved. Right now, in WV test scores aren't valid or reliable. "No Child Left Behind" was never implemented in WV the way it was suppose to be. Students score novice or below mastery and are still shipped on to the next grade. They are getting left behind by their peers and the system does not fix that problem. They use tests to bash teachers/administrators, then put the schools on an improvement plan, and do nothing to help kids grasp concepts. They are trying to fix teachers that no longer teach the students that they had the previous year. It is a broken system.

    Accountability has nothing to do with wages. Seniority rules in these schools and the most senior teachers will always have the gifted students and AP students. So merit based pay is currently invalid as well.

    Bottom line. Teachers are only as good as the students they teach. Who they teach are assigned by those that hold teachers accountable.

    I rambled a bit there, hope you have a better understanding of how the school system functions.

  • Joe

    Dan....meant to type "got a better understanding from your response. Sorry for the typo.


  • Dan the Man

    My wife and I are both teachers and together we do well financially. However if i was single or my wife did not work, we would qualify for foodstamps, HUD, CHIP, welfare, free phones, no student loan payment, pay no taxes, etc. If my wife quit work and stayed home to watch the kids and I was the only one teaching we would qualify for a boatload of government programs that would most likely cost the tax payers more that what a raise for my wife and I would cost.

    The biggest problem is starting salary. My first year out of college, I made $28000 in 2006. After taxes, Teacher retirement, social security, PEIA healthcare, life insurance, and a $325.00 a month student loan payment, I was clearing a little over $1100.00 a month, plus 150.00 in gas driving 45 minutes to my school.

    After 8 years, my wife and I are doing great, but for a single beginning teacher, WV is the last place you would want to begin your career.

    • Joe you chose a career and accepted a position that paid and included expenses as you listed. I get that. If that is not acceptable, why did you take the position or apply in another state or job that paid a higher salary? It's abig country with lots of opportunities. Thebig 3 software companies are hiring new education graduates to train corporate users to the tune of m9nimum 50k starting salary.

      Just trying to understand.

      • Dan the Man

        I own property in West Virginia, my entire family lives in WV, I love WV, and I want to help the young people of WV.

        To me loyalty and family trumped money. However that is not the case for most young college graduates. They hit the road to higher salaries.

        I sympathize with beginning teachers that are single.

        My wife and I make a combined $80,000.00 a year and get same days off and summers together with our kids. Plus we make a difference in the lives of young people. we are blessed.

        My point was there are more reasons for college graduates to leave than to stay in a state where teachers aren't treated as professionals, paid as little as possible, and blamed for test scores that kids don't even try on.

        • Joe

          Dan....thx for your response. Gett a better understanding. Some us are getting pushback for asking simple questions. That's why some of us ask them.

          I disagree that teachers are not treated as professionals. Teachers, at least based on the comments I read, don't treat non-teachers as professionals. Everyone works late,takes work home, work weekends, etc. A majority of teacher comments make it sound they feel they are the only ones thst do that. Not even close.

          I would like to reask a question I have posted numerous times that I have also asked personally to numerous teachers that I still have never received an answer to....

          Who is a teachers boss? That is, what is the specific position they are accountable to for their performance? Ask any non-teacher, thet will give you a specific answer....VP of this, supervisor of that, etc.

          Improved performance cannot exist without accountability.

          So, who in tne typical middle school is the math teacher accountable to?!

    • Dan the Man

      Also, wanted to add that I have never been apart of the teachers union.

  • Dennis

    Be thankful that you are not 49th or 50th on the pay scale.

  • Walsingham

    Teachers would have more take home pay if they did not have to pay union dues.

  • JohnnyG

    Throwing more money at the teachers and expecting a different result sounds eerily like Obama's stimulus plan.

  • Im grill

    We complain but no one seems to offer any solutions. One if not THE most important jobs for our states future is teaching our young people. If we don't want last place then don't pay last place. Want to tie teachers salaries to student performance? Tie parents financial well being also (it's your student) . Every time a student isn't prepared or didn't study let's bill the parents $50. Maybe you'll think school is more important than a job at Burger King or dance lessons or football practice. Schools are not a business they don't produce a product they teach young people to give them opportunities. If you child is a product why didn't you name him/her # 3? Education has issues, pay is but one but it's important. If teaching paid $200k the brightest smoking us could be hired but we disrespect our schools and then condem them for it. We never give them any credit for the students that do succeed only blame for those that didn't. My child went to public school and is now a physician, inspired by a teacher to do so. Oh and if you read this, take time to thank your teacher.

    • Joe

      Suing the local schoolboard wasting tax dollars all to assert your "right" to wear blue jeans in class is not a solution either.

  • FungoJoe

    Where are the Usual Liberal Suspects today?? Talk about Greed. Labor union Greed they are fine with.

  • 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!!!