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Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Changing Gears reporter Dan Bobkoff wanted to know "what it’s like to be a teacher today." So he sat down and talked with three generations: One teacher near retirement, a teacher in the middle of her career and a college freshman who had both of the others as teachers and is now thinking of becoming a teacher himself.

The theme of the discussion: Teaching isn't as great a job as it once was:

“Taking away your bargaining rights, taking away your job security, tenure, money, things like that. So, how do you feel about that, David?” [teacher Lila] Howard asked. “Are those concerns you’re mulling around in your mind?”

Want to discuss? Join a live chat over at Changing Gears at 4:30 p.m. EST today. Click here to participate.

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Nationally, teacher salaries have risen at roughly the same pace as private-sector workers, and slightly faster than the pace of inflation. In Ohio, the average teacher salary is up 12 percent over the past five years.

But in recent years, many Ohio teachers have seen wage freezes or haven't received the annual step raises they usually get automatically:

In 2010, the [Ohio School Boards Association] reported seven contracts that had no increase in base pay. This year, 13 unions agreed to no base pay increases for one year, and 30 for multiple years, according to the school boards association. The unions are also making concessions on benefits and step increases. And a lot of these contracts hadn’t even expired yet.

And this fall, Ohio teachers were at the center of the fight over Senate Bill 5, which would have limited collective bargaining abilities for teachers and other public employees.  The law was defeated in a November referendum after an intense campaign funded in large part by education unions. (The anti-SB 5 campaign's biggest individual donor was the guy who plays the violin in the Dave Matthews Band.)

Changing Gears reporter Dan Bobkoff says that the teachers featured in his story said their pay is "average for a district with their per-pupil expenditure" and was recently cut back to 2008 levels.

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