Larry Sillanpa

With Monday, Oct. 5 being International World Teachers Day and in recognition of the key role that educators play in children’s lives, the personal finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2015’s Best and Worst States for Teachers.

In order to help educators find the best teaching opportunities in the country and draw attention to the states needing improvement in this regard, WalletHub analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 13 key metrics, ranging from average starting salary to unemployment rate to the projected number of teachers per student by 2022.

Most educators don’t pursue their profession for the money. But that doesn’t justify paying teachers any less than they deserve, considering the profound difference they make in people’s lives. In reality, however, teachers across the U.S. are shortchanged every year — their salaries consistently fail to keep up with inflation — while the law demands they produce better students.

It’s no surprise that the high turnover rate within the field has been likened to a revolving door. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about a fifth of all newly minted public-school teachers leave their positions before the end of their first year. And nearly half of them never last more than five.

Besides inadequate compensation, other problems persist in the academic environment. Many teachers, especially novices, transfer to other schools or abandon the profession altogether “as the result of feeling overwhelmed, ineffective, and unsupported,” according to Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Without good teachers who are not only paid reasonably but also treated fairly, the quality of American education is bound to suffer.

In order to help ease the process of finding the best teaching opportunities in the U.S. — and draw attention to the states needing improvement — WalletHub conducted their study. Their data also included how states perform in funding their school systems and how they compare to one another.

You may wonder a bit about their findings when they rated Minnesota third best and Wisconsin seventh best in spite of what Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 did to collective bargaining for public employees five years ago.

In their ranking of “Job Opportunity & Competition” Minnesota came in 3rd again, Wisconsin 8th. In their “Academic & Work Environment” rating Minnesota came in 10th to Wisconsin’s 8th place.

Wisconsin came in 4th in “Best Schools Systems Ranking” and Minnesota didn’t make the top 5.

The states with highest annual salaries (adjusted for cost of living) for teachers were 1-Michigan, 2-Illinois, 3- Pennsylvania, 4-Wyoming, 5- Massachusetts.

Among statistics were:

  • The average starting salary for teachers is two times higher in Wyoming than in Hawaii.
  • The median annual salary for teachers is two times higher in Michigan than in Hawaii.
  • The projected number of teachers per student by year 2022 is three times higher in North Dakota than in Nevada.
  • The pupil-to-teacher ratio is two times higher in California than in Vermont.
  • Public school spending per student is three times higher in Vermont than in Arizona.

The results of the study, as well as additional insight from experts and a detailed methodology, can be found at: wallet hub.com/edu/best-and-worststates-for-teachers/7159/