Pay Raises Keeping Some Teachers From Retiring

Alabama teacher raises are keeping some teachers planning to retire from doing so, in a state move to keep more teachers in the classroom.

By Erika Hanson | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Alabama teacher raises

For quite some time, school districts across America have been struggling to attract and retain educators. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated this problem, and now reports are strewn across news outlets depicting how schools are struggling to find ways to staff schools. This year, many states approved hefty teacher salary increases to address the issue. While many reports still claim the effort hasn’t been enough, in Alabama, teacher raises are keeping some would-be retiree’s in the classroom longer.

While some states were enacting new laws to attract newcomers, and raise starting salaries, The Heart of Dixie took aim at tenured teachers. In April, state lawmakers approved a sweeping salary schedule enacting Alabama teacher raises. Within, educators that have at least nine years behind their belt would receive a pay hike each year, rather than every three years. Additionally, the new measure drastically increased overall salaries for those on the upper end of the pay scale. 

Still, AL news reports that teachers continued to retire in large quantities again this year. For the past two previous school years, the state was struggling with this, as educators were retiring at record levels not seen in over a decade. But in good news, Alabama teacher raises were shown to keep some who planned on leaving the classroom this year on board at least a little longer. 

Before the newly enacted Alabama, teacher raises were approved in April, retirement systems estimated that this school year’s numbers would actually surpass last year’s 3,515 educators who retired. Neah Scott, who works with the retirement agency for schools said that the state had received thousands of applications in March for retirement. But after April, many of them withdrew their applications. 

Nearly confirming that this was due to the hefty Alabama teacher raises. Scott said that many withdrawals were unheard of in her time working for the department. While this news is promising for some, not every district benefited, and some continued to report record levels of retirements. For example, in Shelby County, retirements increased from last year.

Many education officials are still concerned, despite this finding. Many worry that this is only a short-term solution. After all, if these teachers were prepared to retire this year, how many more years in the classroom do they realistically have left in them? However, some of them may have been looking to retire early, at the age of 60. Some teachers work well into their 70s and this could be a saving grace for possibly another decade. But still, some critics feel that the Alabama teacher raises should have allotted more benefits to newcomers.

Alabama teacher raises

In the southern state, there remain nearly 3,000 vacant teaching positions in public schools. Alabama teacher raises are one way to entice more educators to these positions, but as other districts and states have already proven, it isn’t enough to fix the growing problem. There are a plethora of proposed solutions, but overall, the teacher shortage issues in America point to a growing industry trend casting a dark shadow on the state of education in the US.