How Teacher Wages Affect the Shortage of Teachers in Kansas

The problem of the shortage of teachers is common for many states in the US. In this respect, Kansas is not an exception. At the same time, it is necessary to understand possible threats and negative effects of the shortage of teachers in the education system of Kansas. In fact, teachers contribute to the formation of the foundation of the economic potential of the state since, in the contemporary world, education plays an extremely important role. At any rate, it is obvious that the demand on qualified labor force in the US at large and in Kansas in particular steadily grows, basically due to the progress of technologies and introduction of innovations in practically all spheres of life.

As a result, the demand for semi or low-qualified labor force gradually decreases that makes education one of the key factor that determine good job opportunities for people. However, it is obvious that the state education system cannot provide ample opportunities to get a good education for all children in the situation of the significant shortage of teachers.

In such a situation, it is extremely important to find out the major cause of the problem of the shortage of teachers.

In this respect, one of the obvious causes that increases the shortage of teachers in Kansas is the level of wages. It proves beyond a doubt that in order to maintain educators interested and motivated in their work, it is necessary to provide them with competitive wages that would meet their expectations and their professional level. Otherwise, the problem of the shortage of teachers will keep aggravating that may produce a negative impact on the development of the entire state and socioeconomic situation in Kansas.

The current situation in Kansas compared to other states

On analyzing the current situation in Kansas, it should be pointed out that the position of teachers, especially in public schools of Kansas are far from perfect. At any rate, compared to other states of the country, the level of wages of teachers in Kansas was ranked 32nd in 2003-2004. This means that the salary rates of teachers in Kansas basically meet the average level in the country, but it can hardly be viewed as  a positive trend, because in the late 1999s, namely in 1998-1999 Kansas’ teacher salaries ranked 23rd and within five years they dropped by ten positions to 32nd rank. Moreover, the situation keeps deteriorating since next year, in 2004-2005, Kansas’ teacher salaries ranked 33rd (Imazeki, 432).

In such a way, it is possible to estimate that the situation in Kansas steadily deteriorates and the position of teachers is really disturbing since teacher salaries in the state cannot keep pace with the average level of salaries nationwide.

To put it more precisely, teacher salaries in Kansas fail to grow substantially, while other states have consistently better results within the last decade compared to Kansas. In actuality, the downfall of teacher salaries rank of Kansas indicates to a serious crisis in the state education system. At any rate, even though the current situation is not critical and does not produce immediate negative effects, but its deterioration will inevitably lead to the profound crisis of the state education system as the problem of shortage of teachers will more likely grow proportionally to the decreasing level of teacher salaries rate in the state.

Furthermore, it is important to underline that Kansas’ starting salaries rank 6th nationwide, but, at the same time, salaries for experienced teachers rank only 36th (Imazeki, 435). Obviously, this indicates to the limited perspective of teachers in Kansas. In other words, even though young teachers earn relatively high salary compared to other states, but they do not have significant perspective to maintain their high level of earnings in the course of their professional development. In other words, their professional development is not really motivated and they do not receive adequate material reward for the professional growth as they acquire more experience but fail to increase their salary substantially to the level of top states of the country, where teacher salaries are traditionally high.

However, it is also necessary to take into consideration not only the level of teacher salaries compared to the level of teacher salaries in other states, but it is necessary to compare teacher salaries to those of similar professions. Such a comparison will reveal the extent to which teacher salaries meet the level of other similar professions. In this respect, it should be said that annual salaries for teachers are low compared to similar professions, though their hourly pay is comparable to other professions and, at average, a teacher in Kansas earns $30 per hour that is competitive with professions that have similar education requirements (Allen, 87). At the same time, it is necessary to indicate to the fact that the working hours of teachers are basically lower compared to other professions that makes their annual salaries lower. However, it does not actually mean that they work less or they are less productive than other professionals. On the contrary, often teachers keep working even when they are at home, since it is a creative profession that needs constant work and professional improvements.

The effects of wages on teachers shortage

a. High turnover

Naturally, the level of wages directly influences the shortage of teachers in Kansas. It should be said that at the moment almost 6% of teaching positions are vacant or not filled by a fully qualified teachers (Hanushek, 68).

Basically, such a situation is a result of the low wages or, to put it more precisely, by limited opportunities to increase the level of income by a teacher in Kansas. In this respect, it is possible to remind by an average and even low rank of experienced teacher salaries in Kansas, especially compared to a relatively high rank of young teacher salaries. In such a way, young teachers get used to have a relatively high salaries compared to teachers in other states that keeps them in the profession. But, on the other hand, this motivation is not long-lasting because the level of salaries of experienced teachers is consistently lower compared to other states and hardly reaches the average level nationwide.

Naturally, such a perspective is not very attracting for young teachers. As a result, they often decide to quit teaching and change their profession.

In general, this leads to the high turnover in the state, but it is not only young teachers that contribute to the growth of the turnover in the state education system. In fact, about 16% of teachers in Kansas change jobs each year (Hanushek, 73). At average, about the half of these teachers leave the public school system, while another half move between schools each year. In such the public school system regularly increases the shortage of teachers in the result of the high level of turnover.

In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that teachers often change their jobs because they move to a different region, where they could have better job opportunities or where they feel more comfortable to work. No wonder, the most severe shortage of teachers are in high-poverty districts , where 8.6% of positions are vacant or filled by teachers who are teaching out-of-field (Page & Loeb, 401). The reason for such a shortage is quite obvious the level of wages of teachers does not meet their expectations and, what is more, it is consistently more difficult to work in pervert stricken districts compared to wealthier districts, while the level of salary remains practically the same. In such a way, teachers are not motivated to keep working in public schools in high-poverty districts.

In such a way, the high turnover is determined by the level of wages of teachers in Kansas and, what is more, by limited perspectives that teacher have in the future because experienced teachers salaries can hardly reach the average level nationwide.

b. Lack of qualified teachers

At the same time, the high turnover and the low level of salaries lead to the growing lack of qualified educators.

Obviously, highly-qualified specialists tend to get a job that meets their expectations and their professional level. As a result, they are not willing to work in public schools and in poverty stricken districts. Instead, they either change profession or simply move to a different region where their qualification and work will be rewarded respectively to their professional level and their expectations. Instead, not fully qualified teachers get jobs which need consistently higher qualification that cannot fail to affect the quality of education. As a result, the educational level of students in Kansas can potentially decrease because of the shortage of well-qualified specialists.

At the same time, it is important to underline a disturbing trend provoked by the current level of teacher salaries in Kansas. Gradually, the number of retired teachers increases (Greenwald et al, 7). Naturally, they need to be substituted by young professionals. The latter, in their turn are unwilling to work in Kansas because of the limited job perspectives and within one or three years they either leave the job or move to another school.


Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the current level of wages affects considerably the problem of teachers shortage in Kansas. To put it more precisely, the problem of teachers shortage is provoked by the low wages and the limited job perspectives. In this respect, it should be said that the existing system of teacher salaries is misbalanced. On the one hand, young teachers are stimulated to work in the state education system and they receive high salaries compared to other states, but their more experienced colleagues are less motivated because their salaries are ranked at average compared to the general level nationwide. Hence, low wages lead to teachers shortage.

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