Why it matters: In RAND’s annual State of the American Teacher survey, teachers nationwide report that they are experiencing increased working hours and lower average base pay compared to other working adults, leading to significant burnout.

  • Managing student behavior, low salary, and administrative work outside of teaching were the top-ranked sources of stress for teachers in 2024. 

Driving the news: During the hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed raising minimum salaries to $60,000 through the Pay Teachers Act. However, this bill has faced hurdles in a divided Congress. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) argued that the federal government should prioritize other educational issues, pointing to significant existing expenditures with minimal results.

What they’re saying
  • Robert Pondiscio from the American Enterprise Institute argued that while higher pay is important, it won’t solve the underlying issues in the teaching profession. He pointed out that poor teacher preparation, classroom disorder, and the added roles teachers are expected to play contribute significantly to teacher burnout and dissatisfaction.
  • John Arthur, a teacher from Salt Lake City, testified about the challenges teachers face, emphasizing that low pay is a primary reason many leave the profession. He shared his personal story of choosing teaching despite societal and parental pressures to pursue more prestigious and higher-paying careers.

The big picture: Despite state-level efforts to raise teacher pay, such as performance-based bonuses in Utah and increased starting salaries in Arkansas, many teachers still face significant financial and professional challenges. The RAND report indicated that a significant portion of teachers plan to leave the profession due to stress and inadequate pay. [Education Week