On December 4, 2018, we wrote a post regarding degree inflation within Corporate America. We’ve witnessed greater educational demands placed on candidates requiring higher degrees than previously requested or for those currently in the position. The WSJ is once again reporting on this issue, but this time it isn’t corporate America, but America’s public schools.
At a time when teachers and other school employees are quitting at a historic pace (83/10,000), many public school systems are requiring that the teachers have a Masters degree to be in the classroom. As you can imagine, given the cost of an advanced degree, this is forcing many of these teachers to take out additional student loans (including undergrad), which is only making their situation more untenable. Why? Since 2009, the average teacher’s salary, adjusted for inflation, has fallen -5%. Even as wage growth has accelerated, the average teacher’s compensation only grew 2.2% for the last year through October compared to the 3.1% witnessed in the private sector.
Incredibly, the Labor Department is reporting that 1 million teachers have quit public education positions in just the last 12-months. There are only about 10 million in public education. As of December 2018, it is estimated that there are about 7.1 million job openings in our country (all industries), and the reason often cited is a skills gap. Well, it doesn’t seem implausible to find a connection between our unwillingness to pay competitive salaries for quality teachers that would help educate our next generation of STEM students who might just get the education needed to be ready to fill many of those open positions in the next decade or so. If education isn’t valued, then what is?