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Analysis: New Georgia teachers earn less than two decades ago

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(The Center Square) — A new report shows schools nationwide, including in Georgia, have trouble filling teacher positions, with low salaries being a primary cause.

An analysis from MyElearningWorld.com found that — even accounting for inflation — new teachers nationwide earn nearly 20% less than they did about two decades ago. Georgia’s findings align with the national findings, with Peach State teachers earning 20% less.

“Over the last few years, Georgia lawmakers have taken positive steps toward recognizing and addressing the critical need for competitive teacher salaries,” Scott Winstead, founder and editor-in-chief for MyElearningWorld.com, told The Center Square via email. “The current budget approval that they’re working through now, which includes significant pay raises for public school teachers, could be another important step forward for improving the quality of education in the state.

“Prioritizing teacher compensation is an investment in our children’s future and Georgia’s overall prosperity,” Winstead added. “It’s a clear signal that we value the individuals on the front lines of shaping our next generation, and it’s a move that should help attract and retain the best teaching talent.”

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has advocated for increasing teacher pay.

According to a Georgia Budget and Policy Institute analysis, Kemp’s fiscal 2025 budget proposal included $368 million in cost-of-living increases for teachers. In December, the governor also announced that more than 300,000 Georgia employees, including roughly 196,000 teachers and school support staff statewide, would receive a $1,000 “employee retention pay supplement,” an initiative that will cost the state roughly $330 million.

Last month, the Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 464, the “School Supplies for Teachers Act,” mandating the State Board of Education to launch a Department of Education program allocating money for eligible teachers to buy school supplies online.

Additionally, an amendment would establish a “universal reading screener” to monitor students’ literacy progress that local school systems must adopt and administer.

“This bill significantly contributes to supporting our teachers, parents, and students here in Georgia,” state Sen. Billy Hickman, R-Statesboro, said in a statement. “I introduced a friendly amendment to this bill that does not detract from its original purpose but rather seeks to enhance our state’s literacy rate. This amendment requires all schools to utilize a free-of-charge universal screener, addressing the issue of comparison when multiple screeners are used.”