Study points to low pay for Florida teachers
Those pursuing education careers may want to look for work outside the Sunshine State, according to a new study of the best and worst states for teachers that ranked Florida 33rd in a comparison of 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Florida has the fourth-lowest annual public school teacher salaries, adjusted for cost of living, a report published last month by DC-based financial website WalletHub says.
Only Maine, Arizona and Hawaii pay teachers worse.
The site compared each state and DC in two categories comprising 23 key indicators, including:
■Opportunity and Competition, used to rank the state school system across 11 indicators including average starting salary, average overall salaries, income growth potential, 10-year change in salaries, average teacher pensions, and share of uncertified teachers.
■Academic and Work Environment, based on 12 indicators including pupil-to-teacher ratio, presence of annual teacher evaluation and teacher effectiveness requirements, share of teacher turnover, union strength, teacher safety, working-mom friendliness and commute time.
Data for the analysis came from the US Census Bureau, Bureau for Labor Statistics, National Education Association, National Center for Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research, TeacherPensions.org, ProCon.org, National Council on Teacher Quality, Learning Policy Institute, Education Commission of the States, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and other figures compiled and analyzed by WalletHub.
WalletHub ranks North Dakota best overall, ranking it 11th in Opportunity and Competition and third in Academic and Work Environment.
It places Arizona last: 50th and 51st in each respective category.
Florida ranks a lackluster 33rd and 32nd, respectively, but received top marks for how soon tenure kicks in, as well as for teacher evaluation and effectiveness requirements.
Along other variables, it places:
■Eighth in projected competition by 2026.
■14th in share of teachers who feel supported by their administration, at 54%.
■15th in public school enrollment growth, at 0.49%.
■20th in income growth potential for teachers.
■26th in the overall quality of the school system.
■26th for pupil-to-teacher ratio, at 15.12 students per teacher.
■30th in average starting salaries for teachers, adjusted for cost of living, at $37,449.
■30th in working-mom friendliness.
■35th in average teacher pensions, at $22,104.
■36th in prevalence of childhood disadvantage.
■39th in average teacher commute time.
■41st in share of new teachers with inadequate pensions, at 85%.
■42nd in share of uncertified teachers, at 4.7%.
■43rd in public school spending per student, at $9,901.
■43rd in projected share of teacher turnover, at 10.4%.
■46th in 10-year change in teacher salaries, at 3.6%.
■47th in teacher tenure protections.
■48th in average salary overall, adjusted for cost of living, at $47,928.
■50th in teacher union strength and teacher safety.
“About a fifth of all public school teachers leave their positions within three years” and nearly half last fewer than five, the study found, due to a “combination of job pressures, low pay and lack of mobility.”
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, many teachers – particularly novices, transfer out of schools or quit the profession due to “feeling overwhelmed, ineffective and unsupported.”
In a related study released in July titled “States with the Best & Worst School Systems,” WalletHub rated Florida 26th overall based on key markers such as graduation rates, test results, violence by students, safety grades of roads around schools and share of high school students with access to illegal drugs.
Analysts found Florida has the fifth-worst median SAT score, with only Illinois, Delaware, Idaho, West Virginia and the District of Columbia trailing after.
However, in terms of student wellbeing, the state has the third-lowest rate in bullying incidents.