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Delaware Senate Democrats

Legislation filed to address competitiveness of Delaware’s public educator compensation

May 3, 2022

DOVER — Sen. Bryan Townsend on Tuesday, May 3 marked Teacher Appreciation Week by introducing legislation to address the educator shortage in Delaware by making sure the compensation packages offered in First State are competitive with other school districts in the region.

​​“Education is a calling. No one becomes an educator to get rich or to earn an easy paycheck,” said Sen. Townsend, D-S. Newark/Bear. “We cannot afford the consequences of allowing educator salaries to remain stagnant while workloads rise. We must reassess educator compensation so that we can retain and strengthen our education workforce and be competitive in recruiting the next generation of educators. Our students’ futures hinge on us solving this issue.”

More than 635 positions are currently vacant across the state’s public school system, according to the educator recruiting platform managed by the Delaware Department of Education. Nationally, education ranks among the top industries affected by job loss during the pandemic — but this trend began long before 2020.

According to the National Education Association’s Ranking of the States, Delaware’s average instructional staff and teacher salaries trail behind its neighboring states, giving New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland a competitive edge on recruiting and retaining teachers. Since 2008, Delaware has lost nearly 20% of its educational staffing, which has led to a rise in class sizes, a substitute teacher shortage, and widespread educator burnout.

Senate Bill 100 will establish the Public Education Compensation Committee, a 13-member board that will work with educators, school administrators, parents, and local school boards to evaluate current rates of educator compensation and make recommendations for improving Delaware’s ability to compete with states across the Mid-Atlantic region.

“The future of public education as a career field in Delaware depends on creating a competitive compensation structure that will attract the best educators in the region,” said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “We are competing with Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey in hiring public school educators, so the compensation we offer MUST keep pace with that of our neighbors while also recognizing the increasing workloads placed on educators year after year.”

All 14 Democratic State Senators have signed on as co-sponsors of SB100.

“As a former public school teacher, I look forward to serving on the Public Education Compensation Committee,” said Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Brandywine Hundred. “I have seen many colleagues over the years leave the profession, leave the state or retire early because of Delaware’s outdated public educator compensation structure. Teachers also need pathways for advancement that don’t take them out of the classroom, something I look forward to exploring. We must properly compensate and support our teachers or risk losing them.”

If passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. John Carney, SB100 would direct the Public Education Compensation Committee to hold its first meeting on or before August 1, 2022, with a final report due by November 15, 2023.

“Delaware has been behind far too long when it comes to education compensation,” said House Education Committee Chair Rep. Kim Williams, D-Stanton, who will also serve on the Public Education Compensation Committee. “We often hear how students no longer aspire to be educators or how many current educators are leaving the profession. With previous legislation like Grow Your Own, Year-Long Teacher Residency programs and increased funding for Special Education students, we believe Senate Bill 100 provides another step that is needed to improve our schools and to recruit and retain educators. This legislation provides Delawareans and college students more of an incentive to stay in Delaware, making our state stronger for years to come.”

SB100 has been assigned to the Senate Executive Committee.