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Map: Where teachers are being paid the least, according to new report

Map: Where teachers are being paid the least, according to new report

DENVER (KDVR) — Educators have long called for higher salaries, and while efforts to achieve that were successful in some parts of the country in the last year, it isn't enough to keep up with inflation, according to a new report.

The National Education Association, the largest teachers' union in the U.S., released its newest data on teacher salaries on Tuesday.

On average, teachers in the U.S. are making $69,544. At the highest end, teachers in some states are making almost six figures, NEA found, while at the lowest, teachers make only about $50,000.

Educators just starting out are making far less at $44,530. NEA reports that is 3.9% more than in the 2021-2022 school year, but, when adjusted for inflation, "starting teacher salaries are now $4,273 below the 2008-2009 levels."

Overall, NEA says teachers are receiving 5% less than they did 10 years ago because of inflation.

The interactive map below shows the average salary per state for the last school year, as well as the previous year's average and how each state ranked in both years.

On mobile? For best viewing, turn your phone horizontally.

Nowhere was the average teacher salary higher than in California. There, according to the NEA, the average teacher is making more than $95,100 annually. That's up almost $7,000 from the previous school year, bolstering California from No. 3 to the top of the list.

California dethroned New York, where teachers are making $92,696 on average. In only one other state, Massachusetts, the average salary is more than $92,000. Rounding out the top five on NEA's list were Washington ($86,804) and the District of Columbia ($84,882).

In almost 20 states, the average salary fell below $60,000.

At the bottom of NEA's list is West Virginia, where teachers are making less than $53,000 annually. Florida ($53,098) and South Dakota ($53,153) were close behind. Also in the bottom five were Mississippi ($53,354) and Missouri ($53,999).

In many states, that average salary is barely enough to bolster teachers into the middle class. Amie Baca-Oehlert, president of the Colorado Education Association, told Nexstar's KDVR that in some cases, teachers have to be more than just educators.

"So many of our educators still report having to work two to three jobs to just feed their families," said Baca-Oehlert.

Colorado educators, who received a slight increase in pay from the previous year, are making roughly $60,775 on average. That puts them at the very bottom end of the "middle class" in Colorado, according to a new report.

Baca-Oehlert noted that many Colorado teachers can't afford to live in the community they teach in, forcing many to commute one to two hours to get to work.

"When you can't be in the communities that you serve, build those relationships that are so crucial to student achievement, it's our students who suffer in the end," said Baca-Oehlert.

While the low salaries significantly affect teachers' lives, Baca-Oehlert said the biggest impact of a teacher's salary is on the students. She added that higher pay for teachers needs to be a group effort between voters, legislators and districts.

NEA President Becky Pringle echoed those sentiments.

“While some elected leaders are doing what is right, too many students remain in schools where decision-makers have driven away quality educators by failing to provide competitive salaries and support, disrespecting the profession, and placing extraordinary pressure on individual educators to do more and more with less and less,” Pringle said in a news release.

Last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation that would set the minimum pay for public school teachers at $60,000 a year following calls from President Joe Biden to give teachers raises. That bill was sent to a Senate committee in March 2023.

While it fell roughly in the middle of NEA's list, Texas is where a teacher's pay goes the furthest, according to a recent report from personal finance firm MoneyGeek. After reviewing the average salaries of educators across the nation's largest cities, MoneyGeek found that teachers in McAllen, Texas, have the highest purchasing power. Honolulu fared the worst, with educators having a take-home income of just $22,677.

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