The truth about teachers' salaries
You may have already read or heard something about how Kentucky public school teachers won't be getting a raise under the budget Gov. Beshear announced last week. If you haven't, you probably will soon as the budget moves through the General Assembly.
While the budge may include no new state money for teacher salaries, the assertion that teachers aren't getting raises is blatantly false. That clever soundbite, used by the KEA and others to garner sympathy for teachers, is based on the general public's ignorance at how teachers' salaries are structured.
The reality is that in nearly every school district in Kentucky, teachers get raises every year as they gain experience.
The way teachers' salary schedules are devised, there is an increase in pay each year as teachers gain experience. Those increases are usually bigger in "milestone" years, such as between the fourth and fifth year when a teacher becomes tenured, or in years that end in 5 or 0. There are also differences in pay for teachers holding bachelor's degrees (Rank III), master's degrees (Rank II) or Rank I certification.
A teacher who does nothing other than work another year will automatically get a raise. Let's assume that a fifth-year teacher earns $35,000. Even if he or she does not earn a master's or Rank I, or take on any extracurricular duties for extra pay, he or she will get a raise simply by working another year, to the sixth-year level, which may be $36,200. That's a $1,200 annual pay raise even without any additional money being pumped into salaries by the state.
As teachers gain experience, they automatically get raises every year. That's unlike state employees, who if they don't get a promotion only get the annual increment alloted by the General Assembly. State workers don't get a raise for each year of experience the way teachers do. And while there may be educational incentives available for state employees, they don't automatically move into another pay grade by earning a master's or Rank I.
An influx of money for teacher salaries by the legislature would actually mean that teachers would get TWO raises in a year -- the "step" raise they automatically get for another year of experience, plus whatever percentage raise each experience level gets from the state.
So don't be fooled when you hear that teachers aren't getting a raise this year. It's simply not true.
(Teacher salary schedules are matters of public record and if you want to see for yourself, simply ask your public school district for a copy of their salary schedules, which are adopted by the school board every year in a public meeting).