Profession dominated by white women

1st August 1997 at 01:00

American educators are more experienced than at any time since at least 1960, according to a study by the nation's largest teachers' union, writes Jon Marcus.

The National Education Association reports that half of all teachers today have been in the business for at least 15 years, and more than a third for at least two decades. Also, more teachers than ever hold advanced degrees.

But not all the news is good.

American teachers are considerably more homogeneous than their students. Some 90 per cent are white and almost three-quarters are female; fewer men are going into teaching now than in the 1970s, the survey said.

The typical American teacher is 43 years old; 76 per cent are married; just over 40 per cent have children of their own and most are members of a church, synagogue or other religious group.

Teachers reported that they work an average of 36 hours a week, 36 weeks a year, plus an average of 11 hours a week in non-compensated duties such as grading papers and preparing lessons.

The average annual salary was $35,549 (Pounds 21,287). Last year, though, more than half of those polled also said they earned additional outside income.

But in a time of lingering budget cuts and over-crowded classrooms, teachers also said they spend an average of $408 a year of their own money on classroom supplies, books and materials.

The 2.3 million-member NEA has conducted the survey every five years since 1960. This time, it polled 1,325 public school teachers.

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