The president of the Nebraska State Education Association is in Washington D-C for the National Education Association’s 146th annual conference, which opens today. Jess Wolf says he’s eager to have several items addressed at the N-E-A’s Representative Assembly, which gathers 10,000 teachers and education support professionals.
“We are going to be talking quite a bit about some issues that affect Nebraska: school funding, salaries for educators, college affordability, closing the achievement gaps and No Child Left Behind,” he says, to name a few.
Wolf says teachers’ salaries have fallen in Nebraska in recent years, from 38th place in the U-S to 45th. “Not only have we fallen to 45th but we’ve fallen to last among all our contiguous states except for South Dakota,” he says, which is “a major concern to us.” Wolf says the average teacher in Nebraska makes 42-thousand dollars a year. He says the average –starting– salary for a teacher in Nebraska is around 26-thousand dollars, compared to other college graduates who he says start between 35 and 45-thousand.
Wolf says if Nebraska doesn’t lift salaries to competitive levels, it’ll risk losing the best and brightest teachers to other states and other professions. He says, “We also risk losing the excellence of our public school system, our talented, well-educated work force and any economic edge that work force provides us.”
He says a good friend of his who’s been teaching in western Nebraska for 30 years has just quit to move to a teaching job in Wyoming for his last few years for a 14-thousand dollar raise. Wolf says Nebraska is starting to “bleed” its top teachers into other states.
The conference in Washington D-C runs through Sunday and is considered the world’s largest democratic deliberative body.