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Teacher Union Urges Higher Wages

January 18, 2000

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ The president of the American Federation of Teachers on Tuesday called for dramatically higher salaries to help counter an anticipated shortage of up to 2.5 million teachers over the next 10 years.

``Ultimately we need to make teaching a more attractive and lucrative career for young people,″ Sandra Feldman told reporters before addressing The Economic Club of Detroit.

A June 1999 survey by the nation’s second-largest teacher union found that beginning teachers made $25,735 on average in 1997-98, compared with $42,862 for new engineering graduates and $40,920 for new computer scientists.

The national average salary for all teachers in the 1997-98 school year was $39,347, according to the union.

In other professional fields, lawyers earned $71,530, engineers made $64,489 and computer systems analysts drew an average paycheck of $63,072.

Money aside, young college graduates are not looking at teaching as a career choice because of concerns about safety, opportunities for advancement and the public perception of teachers, Ms. Feldman said.

``Most young people feel teaching doesn’t have the status they want,″ the former New York City classroom teacher said. ``You’re not going to be able to staff the schools of America with missionaries.″

The 1 million-member union also supports peer review as a condition of receiving tenure; and modifying decades-old salary schedules based mainly on years of experience and levels of education.

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