Public school teachers earned more than private school teachers in … – The Washington Post

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Public school teachers earned more than their counterparts in private schools in 2020-21, extending a longtime trend linked to licensing requirements and other factors, according to federal data released Tuesday.
Full-time teachers in public schools earned about 30 percent more than private school teachers, pulling in an average annual base salary of $61,600, compared with $46,400, according to the survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The report from the center, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, also highlighted the increased difficulties in hiring teachers in special education and several other subjects in 2020-21, the first full school year during the pandemic.
The persistent pay gap between public and private schools is probably worsened by lesser employee benefits, since public school teachers also tend to fare better in that realm, said Kevin Welner, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and director of the National Education Policy Center.
Research shows that private school salaries vary considerably, often linked to the size and type of school, he said. Smaller schools typically pay less, and elite independent schools tend to pay more. Still, it’s not always easy for private school teachers to move to public schools, Welner said, unless they have required credentials.
The National Teacher and Principal Survey collected data from October 2020 to August 2021. Almost 10,000 public schools, with 68,000 teachers, and 3,000 private schools, with 8,000 teachers, were part of the study sample.
The survey also showed that, as before, teachers worked more hours than their contracts required — an average of 52 hours a week for full-timers in public and private schools despite contracts that required 38 or 39 hours.
Teachers working longer hours did not mean more instruction for students. Compared with 2015-16, full-time public school teachers spent two hours less delivering lessons — 25 hours in 2020-21, down from 27 hours five years earlier.
About 17 percent of the full-time public and private school educators held an outside job — at a time when the turmoil and hardship of the pandemic added to the load that teachers and their students were shouldering.
“The 2020-21 school year made considerable demands on educators,” said NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr. “The efforts to keep students safe and learning resulted in long hours for teachers and principals across the country — shifting priorities, additional instructional support, more communication with parents, and much greater challenges for staffing schools. Teacher vacancies plagued a large proportion of public and private schools during this time.”
The pay gap between public and private school principals was similarly stark: an average salary of $105,900, compared with $78,600. Public school principals worked an average of 58 hours a week on all school-related tasks, slightly more than private school principals, at nearly 55 hours.
Staffing shortages have left educators scrambling throughout the pandemic. The new data showed that, compared with 2015-16, public schools found it significantly more difficult in 2020-21 to fill teaching jobs in special education, computer science, foreign languages, music or art, and English or language arts.
“When we see more than 40 percent of public schools finding it difficult or impossible to fill vacancies in special education and in foreign languages — and when we see that these numbers are substantially worse than pre-pandemic — the survey responses are pointing us to a crisis,” Welner said.
Staffing shortages continue to plague schools, data shows
The teacher and principal workforce was not diverse — another longtime trend. In public schools, 80 percent of public school teachers were White, 9 percent were Hispanic, 6 percent were Black and 2 percent were Asian — similar to the private school workforce. Three-quarters were women, with an average age of 43.

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