In sunny Miami, bilingual elementary teacher Mari Corugedo has 26 years of experience, a master’s degree and a passion for helping Spanish-speaking students quickly learn English.
Her annual compensation for those skills: $64,000, plus benefits. That doesn’t go far in this popular coastal city, where median rent has shot up to almost $2,000 per month, and the median mortgage is almost $1,300 per month before taxes or insurance, according to the real estate site Zillow.
“We spend a good 30% to 40% of our income on our mortgage,” said Corugedo, 52. “I would have moved out of Miami by now if not for my husband’s additional income.”
Beginner teachers have an even tougher time affording Miami. Skyrocketing housing prices combined with relatively low educator salaries have made the area one of the nation’s priciest cities for starting teachers.
In the first analysis of its kind, USA TODAY examined salaries and housing costs for teachers all over the country.
New teachers can’t afford the median rent almost anywhere in the U.S, the analysis shows — a point often made during recent teacher strikes across the country.
But that’s not the full story.
Despite widespread demand for higher salaries, teachers in some regions are actually making ends meet, especially as they approach the middle of their careers.
In other areas, mid-career teachers are right to say they can’t afford to live on their salaries without picking up side hustles or commuting long distances. Some of those places are only affordable for the very highest-paid teachers.
And then there are places that no teacher can afford, no matter how much they earn. Like Miami.
“A lot of people who have a passion for education cannot make it as a career,” said Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of the union for teachers in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
“We have teachers as Uber drivers, Lyft drivers. They certainly love teaching, but they can’t pay their bills with love.”
SOURCE: Erin Richards and Matt Wynn