The financial-services website Wallethub does an annual ranking of the best states for teachers, based on “16 key indicators of teacher-friendliness.” This year’s winner: New Jersey.
That may come as a surprise to people who follow K-12 education news or teacher policy. There is perhaps no state where teachers are locked into a more hostile relationship with their governor. A quick YouTube search turns up six years worth of videos of Republican Chris Christie publicly admonishing teachers who had questioned his educational priorities. In 2015, he said teachers’ unions needed a “punch in the face.” And just this summer, Christie likened the state union to the fictional mafia family, the Corleones. The governor is currently battling the union over his plan to equalize state funding across districts, a move that would effectively decimate state aid to poor schools. He’s also trying to upend tenure protections for teachers in such schools.
So what makes New Jersey so attractive for teachers according to Wallethub? Like in many other rankings, Wallethub concluded that the state has some of the country’s best schools. The website measured the quality of the education students are receiving and used that to assess teachers’ working conditions. The second best state for teachers, according to the site, is another perennial top performer on best-schools lists: Massachusetts.
New Jersey also scored high for its low student-to-teacher ratios and its high per-pupil spending. The rankings also took into account something Christie has been on a crusade to reform during his tenure as governor: the generosity of the state’s pension system.
Here’s a link to the full rankings and more on their methodology.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.