The National Education Association has released its annual ranking of the states—and the gap between teachers with the highest salary in the country and teachers with the lowest salary in the country has grown. New York remains on the top of the list, and Mississippi replaces South Dakota at the bottom.
The average public school teacher salary for 2016-17 was $59,660—up from $58,353 in 2015-16. The NEA estimated that the average salary for this school year (2017-18) is $60,483.
It seems like teacher pay is steadily increasing—but the NEA found that when inflation is taken into account, the average teacher salary has actually decreased by 4 percent from 2008-09 to 2017-18.
The issue of teacher pay has been a battleground for teachers across the country, sparking statewide strikes and walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and now, Arizona. West Virginia teachers won a 5 percent pay increase after their nine-day strike, and Oklahoma teachers received a $6,100 salary increase. Arizona teachers, who are planning to walk out on Thursday, are asking for a 20 percent pay raise.
In the 2016-17 data, all but two states—West Virginia and New Mexico—saw their salaries rise. Teachers in South Dakota saw the largest bump in pay—an increase of 11.8 percent. The state had ranked dead last in average teacher salary from 1986 to 2017. Now, South Dakota is ranked 48th in the nation.
The state’s governor, Dennis Daugaard, applauded the news, saying that the state had convened a task force to make teachers’ salaries competitive. (For more on South Dakota’s efforts to raise teacher pay, see this Education Week story.)
“We also sent an important message to our teachers—that we value the work they do, that three decades in last place was enough, and that we were willing to step up to improve their salaries,” Daugaard said.
Here are the rankings for all 50 states and the District of Columbia:
The NEA’s salary data isn’t the only source of teacher pay data—the federal government also compiles data. The numbers are typically close to each other. NEA typically aggregates state-level data.
NPR recently looked at how teacher salaries compare when accounting for regional cost differences. The comparison is interesting—for example, Mississippi is ranked 37th after the adjustment.
Image via Getty
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.