There's No Need To Raise Minimum Teacher Pay In North Dakota

Democrats want to raise the minimum teacher’s pay in North Dakota from $22,500 per year, where it was set in 2003, to $32,000 per year. That’s double the $5,000/year increase Governor Jack Dalrymple proposed.

KXNet – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson

The thing is, very few teachers actually make the minimum salary. The data is a little out of date (teacher pay in the state has almost certainly gone up in recent years), but according to in 2009 just 15 teachers were making the $22,500 minimum:

graph (1)

Just 808, or 11.4% of teachers, were making the $32,000/year minimum proposed by the Democrats:

graph (2)

And, just to illustrate that teachers are some of the best-paid workers in our state, consider that 40% of them made more than the state’s median household income in 2009:

graph (3)

Keep in mind, there’s nothing which says that new teachers must make the minimum. School districts are free to start teachers out above the minimum. Just not below it.

I’m not necessarily against giving pay increases to teachers. We want our schools staffed with competent professionals, no doubt. But we should all be against this sort of broad, across-the-board pay policy.

It works great for the unions in that this sort of policy inflates pay, and thus dues payments, but it’s not great for our best teachers who cannot be rewarded with exceptional pay for exceptional work. Instead they’re locked into a sort of lowest common denominator with all the other teachers.

Rather than raising minimum salary levels, or giving across-the-board pay increases, we should allow pay to be based on ability and achievement and not just longevity.