91% paid for school supplies out of their own pocket, many running up debt to make ends meet
The Kirwan Commission is working on a plan to dramatically raise educator salaries — and not a moment too soon. A new poll of Maryland educators finds that far too many are struggling to make ends meet at home and keep their heads above water at work.
The poll of 800 Maryland educators found that in the last year 41% of educators in the state had worked a second job to make ends meet. Among educators under 30 years old, 61% worked a second job in the last year and nearly 50% of minority educators worked a second job.
Research has found that Maryland teachers make 84 cents on the dollar compared to other professions requiring similar education, and that more than 24,000 education support professionals — like paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, and custodians — do not make a living wage in Maryland.
Given all these findings, it’s no surprise that 62% of educators polled agree with the statement “my salary makes it hard for my family to make ends meet.” As the state faces seemingly annual teacher shortage crises and struggles to recruit and retain minority educators, it’s clear that inadequate salaries are a huge driver in teacher turnover.
The poll also found that 91% of Maryland educators have bought school supplies out of their own pockets in the last year. This is far above national polls, such as a recent Ipsos poll which found that 78% of educators across the country had bought supplies for their schools and students.
Despite the financial strains that educators are experiencing, they feel forced to dig into their own savings to give their students the resources they need. The underfunding of our schools by $2.9 billion annually feeds into this and has led to 69% of educators polled agreeing with the statement “my school does not have the funding we need to help every student be successful.”
That underfunding is seen not just at the levels of inadequate salaries and insufficient physical resources available to students. It’s also leading to overworked and stressed out staff; 71% of educators agree with the statement “inadequate staffing levels make it hard to keep my head above water during the school day.”
Lagging salaries and buying their own school supplies has placed financial strain on many educators across the state. Over the last year, 34% of educators have run up personal debt to make ends meet and 37% have student debt. Among educators under 50 years old, 49% have student debt. Among educators of color of all ages, 51% have student debt.
The Kirwan Commission is developing final recommendations to address the $2.9 billion in annual underfunding of Maryland’s public schools identified by an independent analysis overseen by the Maryland State Department of Education. The Commission’s recommendations will be taken up by the 2019 General Assembly with the expectation that the state will revise its school funding formula for the first time in nearly two decades.
Voters can make major progress in closing the $2.9 billion gap by voting yes on Question 1 in November to approve the Fix the Fund constitutional amendment which would add $500 million permanently to school funding. We also need to elect pro-public education candidates up and down the ballot who will support our work to revise and improve the state’s school funding formula in 2019 and end the $2.9 billion in annual underfunding of our public schools. Click here to sign up to help in these critical efforts!