During the recession and its aftermath, public schools took a hit as both state coffers and local property taxes shriveled. That showed up in shrinking employment, but also in teacher salaries.
According to a report released Tuesday, the vast majority of teachers in the nation’s largest school districts took a pay cut or saw their pay frozen at least one year between 2008 and 2012.
The report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit group that advocates for tougher teacher standards, looked at salary data across 41 of the country’s 50 largest school districts. Average annual teacher pay increases, which included cost-of-living and contractually negotiated raises as well as increases awarded for extra years of experience, dropped from 3.6 percent in the 2008-09 school year to 1.3 percent in the 2011-12 year. (The report did not include increases that teachers may have received for extra degrees or certifications.)
Despite the downturn, some districts managed to give teachers larger pay increases. Chicago public schoolteachers, who went on strike last year, enjoyed the largest salary increases across the four-year period covered by the report, with an average 6.5 percent increase. Other districts that increased pay at higher-than-average rates during the recession and recovery period included Milwaukee, New York, Baltimore, Jefferson County in Kentucky and Fresno, Calif.