Federal leaders must fix an antiquated exemption that prevents teachers from receiving overtime pay, writes MEA member Audra DeRidder, a special education and fifth-grade teacher in Iron Mountain Public Schools, in a recent essay for the National Employment Law Project.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1935 (FLSA) is a landmark law that provides critical protections for American workers, including establishing a minimum wage and overtime pay. However, the nearly 90-year-old law also places teachers in the same group as doctors and lawyers, making them ineligible for overtime — despite the dramatic wage differences between teachers and surgeons.
“We are losing excellent teachers because they can’t afford to stay in the profession,” DeRidder writes. “Updating the FLSA’s regulatory treatment of teachers would be a step in the right direction of helping to ensure we can be fairly compensated for the hours we work outside the classroom and raise the pay floor for those who barely make above minimum wage.”
DeRidder continues: “Modifying the FLSA regulations so the law extends to teachers the same salary basis and threshold test that applies to other professionals is long overdue, much needed, and would make a difference that pays dividends down the road. Making that change will benefit not just teachers but schools and students, as it will address the long-standing and growing wage gap that drives would-be educators away and current teachers out of the teaching profession.
“The time to act is long overdue.”
Follow this link to read DeRidder’s essay.