The gap between the weekly wages of teachers and college graduates working in other professions grew to a record high of 26.4% last year, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute. This wage gap, known as the teacher pay penalty, saw teachers earn, on average, 73.6 cents for every dollar made by other college grads. While teachers do receive better benefits than their counterparts, it’s still not enough to make up for this discrepancy. The report’s authors lay out why this matters:

Teachers have one of the most consequential jobs in the country—they have the future of the U.S. in front of them every day. But teaching is becoming a less appealing career choice for new college graduates. Not only are levels of compensation low, but teaching is becoming increasingly stressful as teachers are forced to navigate battles over curriculum and COVID-19 related mandates as well as rising incidence of violence in schools. Low pay makes recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers difficult. A lack of well-qualified teachers means we cannot equip future tech innovators, researchers, and educators with the training they need to emerge as leaders. 

For comparison, the teacher pay penalty was 6.1% in 1996. 

Rural residents press politicians
More than 100 residents of rural Pointe Coupee parish gathered last week to press candidates on their plans to improve broadband access, affordable housing and education. Young people have fled rural areas of the state in recent years as they seek better job opportunities. Recent forecasting has shown that rural areas in Louisiana could see population decline resulting in the loss of neary 3,000 non-farm jobs by 2025. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Rebecca Holland explains how difficult it is to learn and work without reliable 21st-century technology. 

Equila Ivery lives in Fordoche and got a job working remotely for Arkansas Medicaid during the pandemic. But she kept having issues with her internet. “So the tech came and did a speed check. He told me my internet speed was 10 years behind, right above dial up,” she said.  Ivery switched providers, telling herself the $215 monthly bill was worth it to keep her job. Within nine days, she had used up the high speed internet in her package. She bought more, but eventually could not afford the bill. … Kids in the parish also sit outside the library after hours to do their homework, families at the meeting last Monday night said.

Louisiana recently received $1.3 billion in federal funding to help bring high-speed internet to rural and underserved areas.

Investing in public health 
Ashtabula, Ohio has significantly higher death rates than its two sister counties along Lake Erie in Pennsylvania and New York. While leaders in those states have enacted more stringent health standards and invested more in public health, GOP legislative majorities have shot down similar efforts in the Buckeye State. The Washington Post’s Lauren Weber, Dan Diamond and Dan Keating explain how red-state politics can shave years off of peoples’ lives. 

The troubles in Chautauqua, the next county over, are also clear — and familiar: boarded-up houses, tales of frequent overdoses, empty buildings downtown. The county ranks among the lowest in New York for health outcomes. But compared with Ashtabula residents, people in Chautauqua are 20 percent less likely to die before age 65, according to a Post analysis of the latest death rates. That’s in part because New York spent an average of $102 per person on public health annually in the years before the pandemic, more than double the $43 per person that Ohio spent, according to an AP-KFF Health News analysis.

Evicting kids
Children, especially children under 5, are the people most threatened by evictions in America, according to a new study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Black children and their mothers are particularly vulnerable, with nearly a quarter being threatened by eviction each year. The New York Times Upshot blog explains the damaging long-term effects that evictions have on kids:

In recent years, researchers have demonstrated that adverse childhood experiences can have lifelong consequences for health, education and employment. Housing instability before age 5 can lead to delays in kindergarten readiness, and is associated with attention and behavior challenges and delayed cognitive skills throughout school. In adolescence, these children are more likely to have depression and anxiety and challenges with information processing. Housing instability makes parents stressed, which can affect children’s well-being, and it can cause children to experience other stressors, like food insecurity and gaps in health coverage.

Number of the Day
20% – Percentage drop in aggravated battery crimes in New Orleans in 2023 compared to the previous year. (Source: The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate)