New data reveals Tennessee ranks 44th in average teacher salary nationwide

According to recent data, Tennessee ranks 44th in the nation for average teacher salary, with an average salary of $55,369, as reported by the National Education Association.

According to a report by NEA, the average salary for teachers in the United States is $69,544, while the average starting salary is $44,530.

Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher, Paige La Grone Babcock, expressed to News 2 that teachers do not enter the profession with the expectation of making a substantial income. Despite both her and her husband being educators with Master’s degrees, their combined salaries fall far short of providing a comfortable living for their family.

Babcock emphasized that while the job may be suitable for his niece who recently graduated from college, it becomes increasingly unsustainable as one progresses in their career. In Tennessee, specifically, professionals are not adequately compensated for their skills and education.

In a significant move last year, the General Assembly successfully enacted the Teacher Paycheck Protection Act. This groundbreaking legislation aims to elevate the minimum teacher salary to $50,000 by 2026. Governor Bill Lee hailed this as a historic moment, referring to it as the most substantial pay raise ever witnessed in Tennessee.

Educators interviewed by News 2 expressed their opinion that it is a positive beginning.

“Our students deserve better, and we can do better,” emphasized Tanya Coats, President of the Tennessee Education Association. She firmly believes that educators in Tennessee should receive full compensation, aiming to reach the national average salary of $69,000+.

According to Babcock, the teacher shortage in Tennessee may be partly caused by low pay. She also mentions that there is a decrease in the number of teacher educator programs across the country, which further exacerbates the issue. Babcock explains, “They don’t have students who want to teach, so schools are either having to diminish their programs or completely phase them out.”

According to the recruitment websites of school districts, there are over 1,800 teaching positions available in the state’s five primary areas: Davidson County, Shelby County, Knox County, Hamilton County, and the Tri-Cities. These positions include both full-time and part-time opportunities.

“We chose this profession because we are skilled at it and have a genuine passion for it. However, it is important for us to also provide for our families. We deserve to have a decent standard of living and be respected in the same way that professionals like doctors and lawyers are.”

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MBS Staff
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