Nearly Half Of Seattle Teachers Make Six Figures But Still Call For Higher Pay

Teacher pay for Seattle teachers is already one of the highest recoded, but educators in the major city still want more increases.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

teacher pay

Teacher pay has been a topic of conversation for years. Throughout the education crisis salary rates for educators have been increased and massive school budgets passed, yet many claim it’s still not enough. Now, nearly half of Seattle teachers make six figures but are still demanding higher pay.

While it is true that the impending economic crisis is affecting Americans of all income levels, teacher pay is just around the national average salary. In 2021, the average annual income for individuals was $63,214.03 and teachers are currently making $61,730 on average. This is well above the poverty level and unlikely to include recent teacher pay increases to match inflation or the large bonuses that are being offered for signing on to new teaching positions or coming to work regularly.

In 2020 the median household income level in Seattle was $97,185, according to the US Census Bureau. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that prices in the area have increased 9.1% from last year and that Seattle is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world and has a 53% higher cost of living than the national average, according to payscale. Putting this into context some argue that $100,000 in teacher pay is not enough to keep up with the city’s growth, while others, who are struggling on much smaller wages argue that further pay increases will only lead to higher taxes, which will continue to raise the already astronomical cost of living in the area. 

Add in the fact that the country is in the midst of a massive teacher shortage and teacher pay becomes an even more divisive issue. While many lawmakers believe that pay increases, heightened benefits packages, and massive school budgets will draw more educators to the profession, these solutions have yet to fill in the gaps — which have been growing since well before the pandemic. It has also been discovered through a Seattle Education Association survey that two-thirds of public school teachers plan to leave Seattle Public Schools within the next five years. 

This dilemma isn’t likely to be solved quickly. While public schools are serving less and less students, due to enrollment drops and chronic absenteeism, they have received record amounts of funding from COVID relief plans, and yearly budgets. Schools are receiving more than ever to educate fewer students and are still suffering from low test scores and learning gaps. Although teacher pay is an issue, many educators are in need of more community support and flexibility than just additional money. 

teacher pay

Whether teachers’ unions will be successful in gaining more “respectful pay,” or not, funding seems to be a major area of concern for the education system that cannot be solved through budget increases alone. Proper monetary evaluations and dispersion is necessary to ensure that the proper amounts are spent where they are needed most. Until Seattle schools focus on delivering promising student success rates, support for increased teacher pay — when a large portion of educators are already making six figures — is unlikely.