Students and teachers across the country are returning to the classroom amid a pandemic that shut down schools in much of the country for the past six months. Some teachers are quitting due to safety concerns, while others may be laid off over the next several months as state tax revenue has been decimated by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
There are nearly 3.1 million teachers in the United States. Though they are in charge of educating future generations, teachers in primary, middle, and secondary schools are not very well paid. The national average pay across these three levels of teaching is $64,524, and teachers in just 15 states make more than that a year.
Pay isn’t the only factor determining the quality and desirability of a teaching job. Class sizes, pensions, and general working conditions are all important when gauging what it’s like to be a teacher in a certain state. In most states, less than half of new teachers are expected to remain in the profession long enough to qualify for a pension — these are the states where teachers are paid the most and least.
To identify the states where it’s best and worst to be a teacher, 24/7 Tempo constructed an index of average annual teacher pay, student-teacher ratio, the percentage of new teachers who are expected to remain long enough in the profession to qualify for a pension, and the overall quality grade research and policy group the National Council for Teacher Quality in its 2017 annual report gave the state.