World Teacher's Day is on October 5 and here's how America's teachers are doing
A recent study found that North Dacota is the best American state for teachers while Arizona is the worst. Michigan, meanwhile, has the highest average annual salary for public-school teachers while Hawaii has the lowest
Saturday, October 5, is World Teacher's Day, which commemorates the adoption of the 1996 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers — who are often credited as makers of good characters and society.
However, while teaching is often seen as a noble profession and teachers and educators as people who command immense respect, the economic side of the profession is not always rosy.
Teachers are underpaid in many cases even though they are required to possess a bachelor's degree and high job pressure forces them to quit early.
According to findings by the National Education Association, about a fifth of all public-school teachers exit within three years while nearly half do not last even five years.
Many, especially early starters, leave the profession as they feel ineffective and unsupported, according to the ASCD — a nonprofit organization that works on improving the education community.
However, there are also states where teachers are paid and treated better than their counterparts elsewhere.
Personal-finance website WalletHub recently released a study on America's best and worst states for teachers and on the eve of World Teacher's Day, it is relevant to see how the community is doing in the US.
WalletHub analyzed all 50 states and the DC on two key parameters: "Opportunity and Competition" and "Academic and Work Environment" which are again evaluated based on 23 metrics.
North Dacota the best state for teachers
North Dacota was found to be the best state for teachers with a third rank in academic and work environment and 11th in opportunity and competition. North Dacota had a total score of 61.69.
New Jersey finished second as the best state for teachers with 60.15 points. While it finished at the top in terms of academic and work environment, it ended 17th on grounds of opportunity and competition.
Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Connecticut followed in the third, fourth and fifth positions with 59.67, 56.98 and 56.53 points, respectively.
Alaska finished first in terms of opportunity and competition but a low rank of 45 in academic and work environment saw it ending up in the 17th position overall with 52.58 points, stated the study.
California, despite being ranked third in opportunity and competition, found itself in the 24th position overall since its ranking in academic and work environment was an ordinary one at 47.
Arizona the worst state for teachers
When it comes to the worst states for teachers, Arizona "did the best" with only 46.13 points. It finished 50th in terms of opportunity and competition and 51st in academic and work environment.
New Hampshire, with a score of 35.47, is the second-worst while Hawaii (37.51), Louisiana (37.87) and West Virginia (40.71) were found to be the next set of worst states for teachers.
Wyoming highest annual average starting salary
Among other findings of the study, it was found that Wyoming has the highest annual average starting salary for teachers (adjusted for cost of living) at $44,971 while Maine has the lowest at $30,462.
Michigan has the highest average annual salary for public-school teachers (adjusted for cost of living) at $69,097 while Hawaii has the lowest at $43,738.
Maryland has the lowest projected number of teachers per 1,000 students by the year 2026 (indicating the size of the competition) at 21.97, which is 4.3 times lower than DC, which has the highest projection at almost 95.
In terms of pupil-teacher ratio, Vermont has the lowest at 10.80 which is more than two times lower than Arizona, the highest at 23.29.
In the sector of public-school spending per student, New York sees $24,565 which is 3.6 times more than in Idaho, which lags at the bottom of the lot at just $6,861.
'Teachers have reached breaking point'
WalletHub also spoke to experts on the matter. When asked about the biggest issues teachers face today, Walter Fernand Balser, Clinical Assistant Professor from the University of Denver’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, said it is the pressure of overwork.
"The one common denominator we are hearing from teachers is that they are being asked to do too much. Put simply, we have been 'piling on' teachers for decades, and we are now at a breaking point."
"Regardless of the context, teachers are being asked to close equity gaps created by deeper systemic problems," Balser shared.
"We have implemented an endless stream of initiatives without the resources (especially time) to do the work and we have introduced systems of accountability and metrics that are not well understood. In other words, we're all over the place — and teachers are the ones feeling the frustration," Balser added.