Report reveals Colorado teachers face highest wage gap in the nation
A recently released report from the Economic Policy Institute revealed that Colorado has the highest pay gap for teachers in the country. Overall, educators make significantly less than non-teacher college graduates – a trend that has only worsened since the onset of the pandemic. Compared to non-teacher college graduates, the weekly pay penalty of Colorado teachers is -35.9%, at least 3 percentage points higher than other states.
College graduates across the country have seen roughly a $445 weekly wage increase since 1996. However, teacher wages have only increased by $29 since 1996. According to our newly released 2022 KIDS COUNT report, the average Colorado teacher salary during the 2021-22 school year was below $61,000. Educational leaders and administrators in Colorado have pointed to this low wage as an ongoing pressure point amongst educators, especially as the compounding challenges of the pandemic have prompted many to leave the profession. Colorado’s rising cost of living, coupled with these unresponsive wages, have made it hard to retain educators.
In 2021, the teacher wage penalty hit an all-time. This came at a time when many educators were taking on more responsibilities as a result of the ongoing public health crisis, alongside constantly shifting learning modalities. As the 2022-23 school year begins, many districts still have a number of open positions to fill, especially amongst special education professionals.
For these reasons and many more, it is essential that our state invest in teacher salaries and educator recruitment and retainment. Colorado must update the ways in which we allocate tax dollars through our funding formula to be more responsive to the challenges facing our students. School funding is associated with children’s access to important learning resources, such as research-based support and intervention, improved student-to-teacher ratios, and teacher pay. To learn more about the work the Children’s Campaign is doing to achieve more equitable school funding – which includes higher teacher salaries – visit our website.