School funding, teachers’ salaries are lowest in RTW states, and kids suffer for it
“This fight has always been about more than wages; it’s about the kids... Funding public education adequately is a fight that we must win because it’s the right thing for our kids, for our economy and for America.”
– Ed Allen, president, Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers
As tens of thousands of teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia – all states with “right-to-work” laws – strike to protest the lack of state funding for their kids’ education and their own salaries, new research by the Labor Tribune shows the serious and negative impact RTW has on education, both in school funding and teacher salaries.
It’s not a pretty picture.
IMPACT ON KIDS: LOWER PER PUPIL SPENDING
When workers are earning less (an average $8,740 less in RTW states), there’s less money for education. That has a direct impact on what states can spend for books, supplies, materials, and most importantly, staffing that impacts class sizes.
This report looks at per child spending, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2015 and updated December 2017, based on average state spending of $11,392 per pupil.
30 WORST STATES
Of the 30 worst states spending below the national average per pupil:
• RTW – 23 are RTW (77%) spending less on their kids.
• NO RTW – only seven states (23%) without RTW spend below the national average on their kids.
20 BEST STATES
• NO RTW – 16 states (80%) have enough revenue to spend above the national average to educate their children.
• RTW – only four (20%) can afford decent spending on their children’s education.
Missouri has little to be proud of in this report. It is 21st in the WORST category. RTW can only make the situation worse for our children.
IMPACT ON TEACHERS’ SALARIES
If you’re going to have quality education for our children, you need the best-qualified teachers. To get them, you need to pay a living wage.
The data clearly explains why teachers are taking to the streets to fight for their children and their paychecks.
Data from the National Education Association tells a revealing story how RTW impacts education funding and a state’s ability to pay — and thus attract — the best teachers.
Comparing the 50 states based on the U.S. average teacher salary of $58,353 per year (see chart):
36 WORST STATES
• RTW – 26 states of the worst 36 states (72%) pay below the national average.
• NO RTW – only 10 of the 36 states (28%) have low paid teachers.
14 BEST STATES
• NO RTW – 13 of the best 14 states (92%) pay teachers above the national average.
• RTW – Only one state (8%) – (Michigan) – pays its teachers a decent wage above the national average.
Missouri is the 12th WORST paying state. Yet our legislature continues to cut education. RTW can only make it even worse for our children.
Vote 'NO' Aug. 7 to protect Missouri children's education.
EDUCATION ON THE CHEAP
Ed Allen, president of the Oklahoma City American Federation of Teachers, which represents 2,600 teachers, summed up what is driving so many teachers to take to the streets:
“This fight has always been about more than wages; it’s about the kids,” Allen said. “We believe lawmakers finally recognize — thanks to teachers lifting their voices and standing their ground in Oklahoma and across the United States — that kids should no longer be educated on the cheap. At its core, this is about teachers’ and school support workers’ heartbreaking teaching and learning conditions… Funding public education adequately is a fight that we must win because it’s the right thing for our kids, for our economy and for America.”