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HARRISBURG, PA (March 19, 2019) – Two-thirds of likely voters in Pennsylvania favor a proposal to raise the minimum teacher salary in Pennsylvania from $18,500 to $45,000 per year, according to a poll conducted by Harper Polling for PSEA. Nearly half of respondents “strongly favor” the measure.
Gov. Tom Wolf proposed raising the minimum teacher salary to $45,000 per year when he rolled out his 2019-20 budget proposal in February. The minimum salary was last updated more than 30 years ago in 1988 when it was set at $18,500 per year.
“Raising the minimum teacher salary will help Pennsylvania school districts attract and retain the best and brightest to teach in our schools,” said PSEA President Rich Askey. “Pennsylvanians understand that and widely support this proposal.”
The Harper Polling survey shows that 66 percent of Pennsylvanians favor increasing the minimum teacher salary to $45,000 per year, while only 29 percent oppose the idea. Nearly 50 percent “strongly favor” the proposal.
Among likely voters in parts of the state directly impacted by the proposal, overall support stands at 63 percent, with 33 percent opposed.
Raising the minimum teacher salary to $45,000 per year would give about 3,200 educators a raise next school year in 216 school districts, intermediate units, and career and technical centers. The governor’s proposal provides $13.8 million through the basic education funding subsidy to fully cover the salary increases as well as associated pension, Social Security, and Medicare costs.
“Pennsylvania is experiencing an educator shortage, and low wages are contributing to the problem,” Askey said. “Raising the minimum teacher salary will help cash-strapped rural and urban school districts increase salaries for their lowest-paid educators so that they can attract and retain high-quality educators.”
“Right now, thousands of hardworking educators are struggling to pay student loans and support their families,” Askey added. “They take on second and third jobs just to make ends meet. Paying these educators fairly will help ease their financial struggles and boost student achievement because it will reduce teacher turnover in the state’s poorest districts.”
Harper Polling surveyed 600 likely Pennsylvania voters from Feb. 18-21, 2019. The margin of error is +/-3.99 percent. Further, in state Senate districts that would receive more than $500,000 in state funding (SD 14, 20, 22, 27, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, and 46), 300 likely voters were surveyed. This sample has a margin of error of +/-5.65 percent.
Askey is a Harrisburg music teacher and the president of PSEA. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 181,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.