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Report: Teachers Nationwide Paid Far Less Than Other Professionals

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WASHINGTON - Educators and students across the country have headed back to school. But a new study finds more and more teachers are struggling as the gap widens between what they're paid and what they could be making in other lines of work.

A report out today from the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute shows, on average, U.S. teachers make about 24 percent less than professionals with similar levels of education who work in other fields. The report shows the pay gap began growing in late 1990s as wages in other labor markets were increasing, but education wasn't keeping up.

Lawrence Mishel, senior economist at the institute and one of the study's authors, said the trend continued during and after the Great Recession. "A lot of that has to do with states actually cutting taxes for the rich and for corporations," Mishel said. "And those that do that basically try to make their budgets balance by cutting one of the main parts of what every state budget is, which is education." Mishel said many states slashed education budgets during the Recession, but never restored funding in the years since the recovery. He said the results have been completely predictable, with many teachers leaving the profession entirely.

The issue is about more than just fair wages for teachers. Mishel said the economic stability of the country depends on the next generation of workers getting a great education. "Teaching is really important," he said. "And you know, you can't keep an effective teacher workforce if you are going to continuously lower their pay relative to what they can get in other jobs."

The study found the pay gap between teachers and other professionals was widest in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Colorado - all states where teachers have staged protests this year.

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