COLORADO SPRINGS — As our area’s cost of living continues to go up, a new study suggests the pay for people in one very important profession is not going up with it.
The analysis by Lending Tree found, of the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S., Colorado Springs was the worst when it came to teacher pay keeping up with cost of living.
Using Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau data, it found, with median teacher earnings barely over $49,000 a year, and median yearly housing costs of just over $16,000 a year, teachers in our area are spending more of their salary on housing than anywhere else in the country.
All her life, Rebbecah Williams knew there was only one profession calling her name.
“It was kind of something, even in third grade, I knew,” Williams said. “I’ve always wanted to be a teacher… It’s always kind of been a calling for me I guess.”
And for the last 21 years, she’s been following that calling.
“I taught elementary school in a suburb of Atlanta for eight years,” Williams said.
Being in a military family, life took her though several states, always taking a teaching job along the way.
But when she came to Colorado in 2015--
“It’s been… a type of Culture shock here in Colorado,” she said.
--Something about being a teacher here was different.
“This is the lowest paying,” she said.
Lower than Washington, and even lower than much more affordable Georgia.
“If I went back to the same place I used to work, I could make $10 to $15 thousand more a year,” Williams said.
Teachers like Williams are taking great lengths to make ends meet.
“I’ve done different jobs myself to supplement that income,” Williams said. “I’ve worked summer school, tutored after school, I’ve even helped park cars at the Air Force Academy.”
Lengths they are overqualified to take.
“Not only do they have a college education… most of the people I work with have a masters degree as well,” she said.
But she’s willing to take them anyway.
“But in the very highly impacted students and the communities that I’ve worked in, I feel very much it matters who those teachers are,” she said.
After all, it was a calling.
“I think that;s what kind of drives me is… definitely feeling that what I do matters and makes a difference.”