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    Tennessee 44th in the nation for average teacher salary, new data says

    By Tori Gessner,


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The average teacher salary in Tennessee is $55,369, according to the National Education Association, which is #44 in the nation, new data shows.

    NEA compiled teachers’ salaries from across the nation and found the average educator pay in the U.S. is $69,544, and the average starting salary in the U.S. is $44,530.

    Metro Nashville Public Schools teacher, Paige La Grone Babcock told News 2 teachers don’t go into the profession to make a lot of money. However, she and her husband, who is also an educator, both have their Master’s degrees, and their combined salaries don’t even come close to being enough for their family to live comfortably.

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    “For my niece who just graduated college, it’s perfect for her for a time, but it becomes less and less sustainable as you get further into the career, because here in Tennessee at the very least, we are not remunerated at a degree to which would match our skills and our education,” Babcock said.

    Last year, the General Assembly passed the Teacher Paycheck Protection Act , which will raise the minimum teacher salary to $50,000 by 2026. Gov. Bill Lee said it’s the largest pay raise in Tennessee history.

    Some educators told News 2 it’s a start.

    “We can do better because our students deserve better,” Tanya Coats, President of the Tennessee Education Association said. “Our students in the state of Tennessee deserve for educators to be fully compensated and getting closer to the national average at $69,000+.”

    Babcock believes low pay may be one contributing factor to the teacher shortage in Tennessee, in addition to other issues, including the dwindling number of teacher educator programs across the U.S. “They don’t have students who want to teach, so schools are either having to diminish their programs or completely phase them out.”

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    According to school districts’ recruitment websites, there are more than 1,800 open full and part-time teaching positions in the state’s five main areas: Davidson County, Shelby County, Knox County, Hamilton County, and the Tri-Cities.

    “We have gone into this profession because we’re good at it, because we have passion around it, however we do need and want to take care of our own families,” Babcock said. “We deserve to have a comfortable living, we deserve to have the kind of respect that other professions, such as doctors, lawyers, and other folks have.”

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WKRN News 2.

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