New study on best & worst states for teachers: Guess where Florida falls? (It isn’t good)

An analysis released Monday ranks the Sunshine State 47 out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. based on school-related data, according to the personal finance web site WalletHub.

Florida’s overall score stems from myriad factors, including annual salaries, teacher turnover, pupil-teacher ratios and per-pupil spending, according to the study.

“Teaching can be a profoundly rewarding career, considering the critical role educators play in shaping young minds. But many teachers find themselves overworked and underpaid,” the analysis states.

Florida’s overall score took a nose dive for the most part because it fared worse – 46th — in the category of average salary for teachers, adjusted by cost of living, according to the WalletHub data.

Federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics puts Florida’s average teacher salary at about $49,400 in 2016-17.  That’s about $10,000 short of the national average of $58,950.

The National Education Association also tracks starting salaries for teachers, and Florida’s figure is $37,405 for first-year teachers in the 2016-17 school year. In WalletHub’s category on teacher starting salaries, Florida ranked 25th.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has pledged to increase veteran teacher salaries to at least the national average and increase starting teacher salaries to $50,000. That plan would likely phase in over five years.

In the WalletHub analysis, only Louisiana, North Carolina, Arizona and Hawaii fared worse than Florida.

 

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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