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Alabama teachers get pay raise, national study says educators want more



Alabama is giving its teachers a pay raise this week. A recent study by the Rand Corporation seems to indicate that the State’s two percent salary hike may fall short of making educators feel appreciated. The survey singles out Alabama for not allowing teachers the right to collective bargaining. Teachers in the study work fifty-three hours a week on average. That’s nearly a full workday more than other people in the workforce who average forty three hours.

The study, “All Work and No Pay — Teachers' Perceptions of Their Pay and Hours Worked” states…

"Most teachers feel overworked: During the 2022–2023 school year, teachers worked more hours per week, on average, than working adults — 53 hours compared with 46

  • On average, teachers reported working 15 hours per week longer than required by contract. One out of every four hours that teachers worked per week, on average, was uncompensated.
  • Perhaps as a result, only 24 percent of teachers were satisfied with the total number of hours they work per week, compared with 55 percent of the general working adult population.

Most teachers feel underpaid: Only 34 percent of teachers said that their base salary was adequate, compared with 61 percent of working adults

  • Teachers who said that their base salary was inadequate desired, on average, a $17,000 increase in base pay.
  • Teachers in high cost-of-living areas desired higher base salaries, on average, than their counterparts.

Recent gains in racial and ethnic diversity in the teacher workforce could be in jeopardy

  • Black teachers reported working more hours per week and were less satisfied than White teachers with their base salary.
  • Black teachers were more likely than White teachers to consider leaving their jobs.

Teacher dissatisfaction with hours, salary, and working conditions appears to drive poor well-being and lead teachers to consider leaving their jobs

  • Pay increases alone – without improvements in teachers’ working hours or conditions—are unlikely to induce large shifts in teachers’ well-being or intentions to leave.


  • Policymakers and district leaders should increase teacher pay and improve working conditions. State policymakers could set minimum pay for starting salaries, and local leaders can increase starting salaries and salaries throughout the pay scale. District leaders should expand opportunities for extra pay for additional school-related activities and ensure that the amount of compensation and the opportunities are equitably distributed.
  • Increases to base pay could be smaller when accompanied by improvements to working conditions but may need to be larger absent efforts to improve working conditions to meaningfully shift teachers’ satisfaction with their pay.
  • District leaders should help teachers work fewer hours. For example, district leaders could dedicate more time for teachers to perform the tasks they usually do outside of their contracted hours, or they could reduce the amount of time teachers spend providing social, emotional, and behavioral supports to students by increasing the numbers of school counselors, nurses, or psychologists."


Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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