Two follow-up thoughts on the teacher pay data I shared earlier.
First, while we paid 2007-08 teachers less than national average at every level of experience, we got closest to other states for the newest teachers. Relatively strong starting salaries help with recruiting strong new members into the profession. That's a plus.
Second, that plus is not enough, because the starting salaries shown mostly will not support a family. The Working Poor Families Project estimates that to be able to cover family needs without relying on charity, family generosity, or government support, families need an income at twice the poverty level. For 2008, that kind of self-sufficiency required a family income of about $44,050 for a family of four. Kentucky teacher pay only reaches that level for folks who have earned a masters degree and worked 11 or more years.
UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST: For 2007-08, a family of four qualified for the federal school lunch program if its income was $38,203, and yes, the average starting Kentucky teacher that year had pay below that line.