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New York Ranks Top in the Country for Teachers, While Arizona Comes in Last, According to New Study

New York state takes the top spot for being the best overall state to teach in when measured against 21 key indicators of teacher-friendliness. Unfortunately for Arizona, its reputation for being teacher-friendly isn’t so good this year with the Grand Canyon state taking last place. The findings come from a new brief conducted by Wallet Hub, comparing everything from teacher salaries to teacher turnover and public school-spending per student.

New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania rounded out the top five best states to teach in, while Hawaii, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida were all in the bottom five.

In the area of salary, Michigan had the highest teacher salaries adjusted for cost of living, which were two times higher than the state with the least desirable salary for teachers -- Hawaii.

Surprisingly, South Dakota, which had the second-lowest teacher salaries in accordance with the cost of living, also had the lowest amount of teacher turnover. In contrast, Illinois, which had the second highest teacher salaries, also had the second lowest amount of teacher turnover. Washington D.C. had the highest amount of teacher turnover, nearly five times more than South Dakota.

Looking at the student to teacher ratio, Vermont, North Dakota, and New Jersey had the lowest student/teacher ratio in the nation while classrooms in California, Utah, and Arizona had the highest student to teacher ratio.

Using the current findings, Wallet Hub also predicted which states would have the highest and lowest amount of job competition (i.e., the ratio of teachers per student) in the next seven years. Arizona was predicted to experience the lowest amount of teacher competition (fewest teachers per student), likely in accordance with its high teacher turnover rate, whereas Maryland was expected to have the most teachers per student in the country and a higher level of job competition among teachers.

Among states with the highest amount of public school spending per student, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia were all in the top five. The only state in the top five not on the East Coast was Alaska. Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Indiana, and North Dakota had the least amount of public school spending per student; four times the difference than the highest states.

Massachusetts was found to have the overall best public school systems in the country, while Louisiana's school systems were ranked the lowest.

The study’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, including “opportunity and competition” and “academic and work environment.” More emphasis was put on “opportunity and competition” (70 percent) with the logic being that job security and a competitive salary were more integral to teacher life/work balance satisfaction. The two dimensions were measured across 21 “relevant metrics” with points assigned to each metric (e.g., “teacher growth potential” and “average commute time”).

While teachers across the country face many of the same issues such as lower pay, mounting workloads, and lack of school support, the findings presented by Wallet Hub demonstrate that for many states, these problems often go hand-in-hand.


Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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