A report recently issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education states that many of the Keystone state’s public schools are experiencing a substantial increase in students who cannot speak, read or write English well enough to participate meaningfully in educational programs. Pennsylvania school districts are mandated by law to provide both bilingual and ESL classrooms for non-English or limited English speaking students.
There are approximately 42,542 students in Pennsylvania with limited English language proficiency. Taken together these students speak a total of 175 different foreign languages. Latinos are currently the largest immigrant group. Their numbers have increased from 2.0 percent of the population in 1990; to 3.2 percent in 2000; and 5.9 percent (751,430 people) in 2011. Asians, the second largest block, have increased from 1.1 percent of the population in 1990; to 1.8 percent in 2000 and 2.8 percent (358,168) in 2011.
Pennsylvania was ranked tenth among the highest-paying states for teachers in a 2011 article in The Atlantic online magazine.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists national average annual teacher salaries as:
- Elementary School – $52,240
- Middle School – $52,270
- Secondary School – $53,390
Although ESL teachers per se do not automatically receive higher wages in Pennsylvania, additional education beyond a bachelor’s degree pays off in terms of salaries. The state Office of Human Resources salary schedule lists K-12 teacher starting salaries through 11 incremental raises according to education levels:
- Bachelor’s degree – $45,360 to $67,705
- Master’s degree – $46,694 to $76,462
- Masters plus 30 credit hours – $49,615 to $83,381
The median annual salaries for elementary school teachers in different PA cities are:
- Allentown – $51,521
- Erie – $50,723
- Harrisburg – $52,000
- Pittsburg – $51,947
- Philadelphia – $54,821
- Scranton – $52,000
The table below provides 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary information for Adult, Basic and Secondary Education and Literacy Teachers (Adult ESL teachers are included in this broader category).