Julius Jacobson Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Julius Falk

Nation’s Teachers in Fight to Increase Take-Home Pay

(16 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 50, 16 December 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The New York teachers’ demand for a $1,050 annual raise is actually their rock bottom requirement for keeping pace with the rising cost of living.

In the past ten years teaching has been reduced from a relatively well paid profession to an underpaid and overburdened drudge. A few pertinent facts:

Until December 1 the pay schedule for teachers was the same as it had been in 1928. This, despite a rise of 50 per cent in the cost of living between 1939 and 1946 (according to the latest conservative estimates of the Bureau of Labor). Since the first of this month, teachers have received a $250 annual raise in income but this is pathetically small when compared with their real wages which have been almost halved.

An additional $350 cost of living bonus was granted but there are two hitches in this statistically impressive gain. First, it is only a temporary raise and not an increase in basic pay rates. Secondly, it must be remembered that the 1928 pay schedule worked on the assumption that teachers would be tax exempt. In 1938, however, this exemption was removed and teachers had to pay a rising tax deduction on a constant salary. The $350 temporary bonus therefore barely covers the tax-sliced take home pay of the teachers.

The problems of students are intimately bound up with the economic conditions of teachers. For low pay cuts the efficiency of teachers and lessens the attractiveness of the teaching profession. As a direct result of the inadequate pay rates there has been a steady deterioration in the quality of classes. The shortage of teachers in the school system has led to a situation where teachers are unable to pay individual attention to their students. During the month of September alone more than 800 teachers left the school system and no replacements have been made. The total annual reduction in teaching staff has been estimated at around 2,000 in New York City alone. This decrease will be greater proportionately in the coming period unless something is done to make more attractive the pay scales of the teaching profession.

In a recent three-year survey by the National Council of Teachers of English the low scholastic level of students of English was attributed to the overcrowded classrooms. It was discovered that English teachers were forced to handle as many as 220 students a day, assume a number of extra duties even though the recommended maximum number of students is 150 a day.

This fight, it should be added, is being conducted not only by New York teachers but also by teachers throughout the rest of the country. In a number of cities there have been successful strikes by teachers – in Minneapolis, for instance. In a number of other cities throughout the country teachers are still on strike, fighting for demands even more modest than those sought by New York teachers.

In view of these circumstances it is the obligation of all high school students and student organizations to support the legitimate demands of the teachers for pay rises. The Socialist Youth League stands squarely behind their demands.

Julius Jacobson Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 20 July 2020