Minnesota. Dept. of Education.

Teacher shortage and salaries. Report of proceedings by State board of education online

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Department of Education

Teacher Shortage
and Salaries

Report of Proceedings


State Board of Education

April, 1920

®o 9£ £.

OCT £ mm


W. D. Willard : President

Cashier First National Bank, Mankato

Julius Boraas i Professor of Education

St. Olaf College, Northfield

Thomas E. Cashman President Clinton Falls

Nursery Company, Owatonna

Mrs. R. D. Musser Little Falls

J. VV. Hunt, Attorney-at-Law •. Duluth

James M. McConnell Commissioner of Education, Secretary

and Executive Officer of the Board,

Historical Society Building, St. Paul

P. C. Tonning Deputy Commissioner


For the information of all concerned and especially of school boards,
this bulletin is published, giving a statement of what has been done by
and under the direction of the State Board of Education in the teacher,
shortage and salary emergency which confronts the state.

It is the purpose of the State Board in this, as in other problems
that may arise, to furnish such leadership and give such assistance as
ij: may be able to the end that the schools of the state may be main-
tained at their highest efficiency. It bespeaks the cooperation and hopes
for the confidence of school boards, superintendents and teachers
throughout the state in its efforts to achieve this purpose.

At its quarterly meeting, January 5, 1920, the Board discussed at
length the question of restoring standards of teacher certification and
of raising the minimum salaries paid in state aided schools. The mat-
ter was referred to the Commissioner for recommendation at a special

The special meeting was held on January 26, 1920, all members
being present, and the following resolutions were adopted:

That school boards and superintendents throughout the
state be notified that it will be the policy of the Department of
Education for the school year 1920-21 to adhere to the re-
quirements for teacher certification and standards set forth
in the printed rules of the State Board of Education: that
renewals of permits now in force to persons not fully qualified
will be granted only on evidence of satisfactory teaching and
continued professional progress by attendance at summer
sessions of the State Normal Schools or College of Educa-
tion: that such permits will not be granted to new appli-
cants except on request of school boards who are able to show
to the satisfaction of the Department of Education that they
have made every effort to secure fully qualified teachers and
have offered reasonable salaries for the same, and when the
Department finds that qualified teachers are not available
for such positions.

That a letter be sent to all school boards in the state
informing them of the emergency that exists in the shortage
of qualified teachers and the consequent necessity of raising
salaries to a standard that will induce young men and women
to enter the work of teaching and retain persons of ability
now employed: that the Board of Education call a confer-
ence of all school boards in the state to consider the problem
of teachers' salaries in the hope that a state wide policy
may be adopted that will lead to its solution: that this meeting
be called immediately following the report to be made at the
annual meeting of Superintendents held in Minneapolis,
March 31-April 2, of a Committee appointed by the Minne-
sota Educational Association to investigate Teachers' Salaries
and Living Expenses in Minnesota

In compliance with the order of the Board, the following letter,
under date of February 10th, was sent to all school boards in the state:

To All School Boards in Minnesota:

The State Board of Education extends greeting to all
school boards in Minnesota and begs to bring to their attention
what it believes to be an emergency in the educational situation.

An inquiry made some two months ago by the Department
of Education showed more than 300 school rooms or depart-
ments closed teachers could be obtained. It also
showed more than 1,800 teachers employed in positions for
which they do not possess full qualifications, according to
standards set up before the war. It showed further that while
in the year 1916-17, the State Normal Schools graduated more
than 750 students and the High School Training Departments
almost 1,450, the same institutions will this year graduate less
than 600 and 1,000 respectively. Nor is the showing for high
school teachers much better. While colleges and universities
are overflowing with students, the schools which train teach-
ers have not regained their pre-war enrollment. This means
that young men and women are not now preparing to teach.
Furthermore, besides those who left the work during the
war, relatively few of whom have returned, we are steadily
losing to other more attractive fields our best superintendents
and teachers. The conviction is widespread and well founded,
not only that teaching does not pay, but that it does not
furnish a living.

The problem presented is one that cannot be avoided by
those who are burdened with the responsibility for adminis-
tering our schools. The education of the children of the
state is at stake at a time when the need of education was
never more apparent. It is our business to see that the best
minds and the best personalities teach the children of Minne-

The question seems to be mainly one of salary, and that
we may know exactly what the situation is .and so far as
it is possible determine the best solution of the problem, the
State Board of Education suggests a conference of all the
school boards in Minnesota to consider definitely the question
of teachers' salaries.

Since a committee appointed by the Minnesota Educa-
tional Association is now investigating the question through-
out the state, and will report at the annual meeting of super-
intendents, held in Minneapolis, March 31 to April 2, it
would seem best that the conference be deferred until this
report is in. It may be possible to hold the conference during
the closing days of the Superintendents' meeting.

It is hoped that the boards throughout the state in all
grades of schools will realize the seriousness of the situation
and will see that they are represented at this conference.

The Board would appreciate an expression of your opinion
as to the wisdom of calling such a conference. Later and
definite notice will be given.

Very truly yours,

Secretary State Board of Education.

The replies received, with almost no exception, favored the Con-
ference, though many favored calling it at an earlier date. The desira-
bility of awaiting the report of the Committee appointed by the Minne-
sota Educational Association to investigate teachers' salaries and
living expenses was usually admitted.

Under date of March eighth, a second letter was sent, calling the
Conference for Saturday, April third, at 10:00 a. m., at the University
Farm in St. Paul.

An opinion of the Attorney General holding that a board might
charge the expense of its delegate to the district or that several dis-
tricts might share in the expense of sending a representative was cited.

An invitation was also extended to board members to attend the
Friday afternoon session of the Superintendents' Meeting, when a
preliminary report of the Committee appointed by the State Board
of Education to study the question of state aid would be presented, and
also a report of the Committee appointed by the Minnesota Educational
Association to investigate teachers' salaries and living expenses. Many
school board members attended this session and also the annual dinner
in the evening, to which they were invited.

Saturday morning, April third, at the University Farm, the State
Board held an informal meeting at which they approved a recommenda-
tion to the Conference of the minimum schedule previously considered.

At the time appointed for the School Board Conference, the large
auditorium was filled to its capacity, the balcony being occupied,
mostly by superintendents. Not fewer than eight hundred board
members were present from all parts of the state. A "please stand"
estimate indicated that probably a majority represented rural districts.
The others were from districts having high and graded schools, ranging
from the smallest to some of the largest.

At 10:15 a. m., President Willard of the State Board of Education
called the Conference to order and stated its purpose and the importance
of the matters under consideration. He then introduced Commissioner
James M. McConnell, who presented the situation in the following

1. Purpose and Plan of Meeting.

As a people we are committed to the doctrine that public educa-
tion spells public welfare.

This conference has been called in the interest of public education.
It is no part of a campaign. It is a business meeting, called for the
purpose of dealing in a sane and business-like way with a real situation.
It is a situation which concerns every American citizen, but the re-
sponsibility for meeting it rests squarely upon those who are represented
here this morning.

The emergency of war and the unrest and uncertainty of recon-
struction through which we are passing have impressed anew upon all
thinking people the value of public education and the immediate
necessity of strengthening and extending it to meet existing conditions.

The various schemes for Americanization now so seriously under-
taken by public spirited citizens and institutions are only efforts to
reach the spots that seem to have been missed in our scheme of public

Here is the problem that confronts us. At a time when the schools
are called on to do more and do it better; when reduced efficiency is
unthinkable for those who have the country's welfare at heart, we
acknowledge the fact of a shortage of teachers which has closed
many schools and greatly lowered the efficiency of others. Instead
of being stronger to meet the new demands we are weaker. There
is in the country at large and in Minnesota a lack of competent teach-
ers which, if allowed to continue, will wreck our public schools, either
by closing them or by filling them with inefficient teachers.

This is the ground on which this conference is called. It is our
plan to put before it the facts as we have been able to get them and to
to make such recommendations in the light of these facts as have com-
mended themselves to our judgment. It is our purpose to have free
discussion and our hope that the conference may result in the best
conclusions that can be reached.

The Governor of an eastern state where the stituation is not worse
than in Minnesota has stated the case by saying:

"If our children are to be taught by incompetent teachers, or not
at all, the end of American democracy is in sight."

The president of one of our leading colleges has expressed it by

"We are facing the annihilation of a profession."

II. The situation in the country at large and in Minnesota.

1. The shortage of teachers in schools and lack of qualifications.

The Secretary of the Interior reports that 143,000 out of approxi-
mately 650,000 teachers in the United States resigned last year on ac-
count of inadequate pay. The National Education Association states
that more than 100,000 teaching positions in public schools in the
U. S. are either vacant or filled by teachers below standard. This num-
ber is 16% of the teaching positions in the country, of which 6% repre-
sents vacancies and 10% teachers not fully qualified. Both shortage
of teachers and lack of qualifications are naturally greatest in rural
districts and in communities where salaries are lowest and living condi-
tions least favorable.

California reports a combined shortage and below standard, 3%%.

Massachusetts reports a combined shortage and below standard,

4H%- . ■

Illinois reports a combined shortage and below standard, 7%.

Six southern states report a combined shortage and below standard,
33 1-3 %.

Minnesota reports a combined shortage and below standard, 11 H%.

2. Shortage in enrollment and graduates in schools preparing teach-

a. In the United States.

While colleges and universities are overflowing with students,
schools for the training of teachers have generally not reached their
pre-war enrollment. It is -reported that in 78 normal schools and
teacher training schools in 35 states, the enrollment in 1916 was 33,051,
and the number of graduates 10,295. In 1919 in the same schools, the
enrollment was 26,134 and the graduates 8,274. In the graduating
classes of 1920, the present year, the number is only 7,119. This shows
a decrease of 30% of graduates in four years. Attendance has de-
creased 20% in three years. Commissioner John H. Finley of New
York reports that attendance at the normal schools in that state has
fallen off 40%, that teacher training institutions have not over 60%
of their pre-war enrollment. It is stated that the class of 1896 of Yale
University produced 33 teachers; that of 1904 produced 19; and that of
1919 produced 3.

b. In Minnesota.

In Minnesota in the year 1916-17, the normal schools graduated
756 and for the year 1919-20, the estimate is 584, a falling off of 23%.
In the year 1916-17, the high school teacher training departments
graduated 1,441, and the estimate is 976 for 1919-20, a falling off of 32%.

It is estimated that in ordinary times graded schools require
1,250 new teachers annually and the rural schools 2,200. Comparing
these figures with the graduates in sight, the number of trained teach-
ers for these schools will be less than 50% of the demand. The high
school and special teacher situation is not materially better, but is
more difficult to estimate, since this group of teachers is secured from
many different sources.

The fact is, that large numbers of young persons who should be in
the training schools, and ordinarily would be, may be found among
the more than 1,800 who have been allowed to teach with less than the
standard qualifications in order to keep from actually closing a larger
number of schools. They are the immature and raw recruits whom
we have had to send into the ranks to hold places which in these times
demand veterans. As someone has well expressed it in a different way,
"we are grinding our seed wheat." An important part of the prob-
lem before this conference is to stop this abuse. To do so, school
boards must cooperate with the Department of Education by not
asking for concessions in certification until they have made every ef-
fort to secure qualified teachers.

3. Causes and remedies.

Doubtless the war and the unsettled and unusual economic and
industrial conditions through which we are passing have been factors
in producing the situation as we find it. To that extent, the condition
will correct itself. The prime cause, however, is one of lack of re-
muneration. Teachers' salaries have always been low. But with the
diminishing value of the dollar and the mounting cost of living, the
situation for the teacher in service became critical. Happily for the
teachers and unhappily for the schools, economic and industrial pros-

perity furnished a way out. Teachers, men and women, have gone
and ~are going by the thousands, many of them to incomes beyond
their wildest dreams. Private employers have discovered in teachers
the highest grade of ability and they are drawing on it to the utmost;
and men and women who are able to teach have found themselves in
demand for other lines of work. Not only so, but young men and
women are no longer entering the work, since teaching does not pay
in proportion to the demands it makes in extent of preparation, as well
as in the work to be performed. Almost no young men are prepar-
ing to be teachers. In Minnesota in 1915, the ratio of men to women in
high and graded districts was 1:5.6; in 1919, it was 1:8. In the rural
districts in 1915, it was 1:15; in 1919, it was 1:35.

"The medium salary paid to all elementary and high school teach-
ers, including special teachers, supervisors, heads of departments and
principals in 392 cities of the United States in 1918-19 is 40% below
that paid the skilled and unskilled laborers and employees in fac-
tories and shops where the greater number employed are women and
girls." Comparisons tending to establish the undesirable economic
situation of teachers are endless. What the conditions are in Minne-
sota will presently by shown by members of the Committee of the
Minnesota Educational Association appointed to investigate.

To come to the remedy. Some means must be found to retain and
replenish the supply of teachers or the cause of public education for
which you and I are officially responsible must be seriously handicapped.
Some plan of action must be adopted. We could continue to lower
the standards and let in the untrained and incompetent, as we have
already done to too great a degree. This is unthinkable and the great
majority of the people of Minnesota will so decide when once they have
the facts. Our standards are not too high. They are not higher than
they were five years ago. We must have well trained teachers. There
may be a few "natural born teachers" who succeed without much
training. Let me remind you, however, that the birth rate of such per-
sons is singularly low and the matrimonial mortality alarmingly high.

Another and a better suggestion is to meet the situation in a busi-
ness-like way and pay what competent teaching service costs. Not
only so, but to establish a liberal policy that will encourage young men
and women to enter the profession and will attract teachers into the
state, as well as hold those now in the work. When our salaries are lower
than those of adjoining states, as they have been, we lose teachers to
them. When ours are higher, as we hope they will be, we draw from
them. The objection to this plan is the wrath of the overburdened
taxpayer. But the answer to this is clear — we shall have to choose now
between the wrath of the taxpayer and the wrath to come, if we neglect
our plain duty.

The schedules received from many schools which have already elect-
ed their teachers indicate a liberal policy — one that gives encouragement
for the solution of the problem. Twenty out of the thirty-two graded
and high schools reporting next year's schedules to the Department
have adopted minimum salaries ranging from $110 to $135 for grade
teachers; and twenty-three out of the twenty-seven high schools re-

porting have adopted minimum salaries ranging from $125 to $150 for
high school teachers. These reports are from the small or middle sized
towns and cities, mostly in the agricultural sections of the state. Seven-
teen of the schools are located in villages of less than a thousand and
thirty-two in villages or cities of less than ten thousand. The Twin
Cities or "range towns" are not included. No reports have been re-
ceived from rural schools, since it is not their practice to elect so early.

Permit me to say in this connection that a somewhat widespread
impression that the normal schools and teacher training institutions are
responsible for a salary raising program and that boards are being held
up accordingly is without foundation. The law of supply and demand
is in control of the situation, and this, together with a realization by
school boards of the condition and their disposition to meet it squarely,
is responsible for the salaries paid.

4. The problem of determining a schedule.

It is not a simple matter to determine a schedule of salaries that
will meet all conditions.

It is understood that there is a large element of .the altruistic in
the work of teaching and that those who enter on it do so without the
expectation of becoming rich. However, this feature has been over-
done. Conditions have changed with growing demands laid on the
schools. In the old days, when professional standards for teaching
were low or lacking, the young man on his. way to some other calling
used teaching as a stepping stone. He could then afford to take a young
man's salary. Nor did young women enter seriously on the work, as
one which should give them full and perhaps permanent occupation. and
support. Now, the greatly broadened scope of school work demands
trained men and women who are, or who are preparing to become, pro-
fessional teachers. If. we get them and keep them, they must be paid
enough for their support throughout the year and something for cul-
ture and saving besides. Not only so, but the outlook must be per-
manent and promising. Conditions vary from rural districts to the
large cities and no uniform schedule could be adopted.

The Michigan committee on teachers' salaries suggests that each
community make an exact estimate of the total monthly expensess
of the average woman grade teacher for board, room and laundry.
Add 45% to this amount to cover clothing, insurance, church, charity,
physician's bills, railroad fare, etc., and multiply this total by 12 to
secure necessary expenses for the year. For it must be remembered
that teachers have to live 12 months, whether school keeps or not.
To this total add 10% for saving. Additional allowance should be made
for training, experience, and special merit.

In keeping with the present "cost plus" method of letting contracts
the scheme has much to commend it.

In any case, there are three outstanding factors that must be taken
into consideration in determining teachers' salaries; they are training,
experience and efficiency. The first two points can be determined
by fixed standards; the third is a local and individual question. Also
it must be remembered that any minimum that may be adopted stands
for the weakest teacher of the group in the poorest school. It could

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not at the same time be a minimum for the better teachers in the
better schools. Again, living expenses enter in as a large factor.

The Board of Education in order to arrive at what may seem to be a
fair minimum schedule have agreed to a recommendation which I will,
now submit:

Less than 2 yrs.' Two yrs.' experi-

(1) Teachers Holding experience — ence or more —

Per Month Per Month

Second class certificate $65 $65

First class certificate 75 85

High School Training Certificate 85 95

Certificate for one year State Normal

Training 85 95

State Normal Diploma (2 year) 100 120

State Normal Diploma (3 year).... 110 130

Certificate on A. B. or equivalent

College Degree 120 140

Note — Experience under this rule shall mean experience in pub-
lic schools after the granting of the diploma or certificate to which the
minimum salary applies. A year of experience shall mean a minimum
of eight months' actual teaching, but in no case can credit for more
than a year's experience be granted in any calendar year.

(2) Principals and Superintendents.

Graded School Principal, classified as elementary teacher, $1,200 per yr.

Graded School Principal, classified as H. S. instructor 1,500 per yr.

Superintendent of High School '. 2,000 per yr.

It will be noted that this schedule recognizes experience, and also
professional training and progress.

1. No increase in salary is provided through experience for the
second grade teacher, because any teacher worth having will not long
continue to be a second grade teacher.

2. The salary for a first grade teacher at the end of two years
equals only the initial salary of either the graduate of the high school
training department or the teacher who has completed one year in a
state normal school.

3. The graduate of the' two year course in the State Normal School
is given an initial salary above the teacher of two years' experience, but
with a year less of training. The purpose of this is to encourage the
completion of professional training.

4. For each additional year of training $10 per month is added for
additional salary.

5. Since two years is the accepted probation period, no provision
is made for increase at the end of one year; though, in practice, boards
may often find it desirable to modify this.

6. Ten dollars per month per year for two years' experience is not
too much. The trouble has been more that of too little and too slow
advance in salaries, rather than too low initial salary.


7. No provision has been made to carry advances beyond that pro-
vided at the end of the second year of experience, though such advances

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Online LibraryMinnesota. Dept. of EducationTeacher shortage and salaries. Report of proceedings by State board of education → online text (page 1 of 3)