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To keep schools on right track, PA should raise the minimum teacher salary
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Chris Lilienthal (717) 255-7134
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HARRISBURG, PA (June 5, 2019) – Nearly two-thirds of registered Pennsylvania voters expressed satisfaction with the public schools in their communities, and more than 7 in 10 have positive impressions of teachers, according to a poll conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research for PSEA and other organizations.
Poll respondents were also more likely to support raising the state’s minimum teacher salary after hearing that Pennsylvania has licensed far fewer new teachers annually in recent years and that raising the minimum teacher salary will allow public schools to recruit and retain the teachers Pennsylvania needs.
“Pennsylvania has great public schools and great teachers,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “Residents across the commonwealth are pleased with the schools in their communities and the educators who are preparing their sons and daughters for future success, and they want to see their schools stay on the right track.”
The poll found 65 percent of Pennsylvania voters were very (21 percent) or somewhat (44 percent) satisfied with the public schools in their communities, compared to only 28 percent who were very (12 percent) or somewhat (16 percent) dissatisfied.
Among respondents who currently have children in public schools, the response was even stronger, with 78 percent saying they were very or somewhat satisfied with the public schools in their communities, compared to only 20 percent who were very or somewhat dissatisfied.
Voters were also told that the number of new teaching licenses issued in Pennsylvania has dropped by 67 percent since 2009, and that increasing the minimum teacher salary “will allow Pennsylvania to recruit and retain the teachers our state needs.” Upon hearing this, 78 percent of voters polled were more likely to support a raise in the minimum teacher salary, with only 20 percent less likely to support the proposal.
Policymakers are considering bipartisan legislation to raise the minimum teacher salary in Pennsylvania from $18,500 to $45,000 per year and fund it at the state level.
“There is a growing educator shortage in Pennsylvania, and low wages are one of the factors contributing to it,” Askey said. “By providing state funding to raise the minimum teacher salary, we can ensure every school district has the resources to attract and retain the best and brightest to teaching positions.”
The poll also found strong positive impressions of public-school teachers, with 71 percent of respondents saying they had a very (26 percent) or somewhat (45 percent) positive impression of teachers, compared to only 13 percent with a very (3 percent) or somewhat (10 percent) negative impression.
“Pennsylvania’s public schools are among the best in the nation thanks to the educators and support professionals who work with our students every day,” Askey said. “The dedication of PSEA members is good for student achievement and really benefits all of us because strong public schools make strong communities.”
Terry Madonna Opinion Research surveyed 650 registered Pennsylvania voters March 15 to April 7, 2019. The margin of error is +/-5.1 percent. Members of the media may contact Terry Madonna at email@example.com with questions about the poll.
An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 181,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.