Hawaii 'worst state' for teachers, and not just because of low pay

Hawaii 'worst state' for teachers, and not just because of low pay
Published: Sep. 24, 2018 at 2:10 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 24, 2018 at 4:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is the worst state in the nation for teachers.

That's according to a new WalletHub analysis released Monday, which also says Hawaii ranked dead last when it comes to teacher salary and teacher support.

Corey Rosenlee, president of Hawaii State Teachers Association, said Hawaii's ranking is "embarrassing."

According to Rosenlee, over the past six years there's been a dramatic 84 percent increase in teachers resigning to move to the mainland because of higher pay and lower cost of living.

"I think everyone in Hawaii should be angry that so many of our kids go day to day to school and don't have a teacher," Rosenlee said. "This is foolish for a society to not invest in our keiki."

The report compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key areas: "opportunity and competition" and "academic and work environment."

These areas were evaluated using 22 categories, like a teacher's average commute time, public school spending per student, and the quality of school system to determine how "friendly" states are to their teachers.

Source: WalletHub

The ranking said the average starting salary for teachers in Hawaii is $24,409 when adjusted for cost of living.

Meanwhile, the average salary for all teachers stands at a close $30,086, when cost of living is taken into account, the analysis concluded.

In 2017, WalletHub ranked Hawaii the second-worst state for teachers. Arizona was the worst.

Arizona was the second-worst state in 2018, while North Carolina rounded out the bottom three.

Lindsay Chambers, a state Department of Education spokeswoman, said in a statement that the agency is "dedicated to engaging our Hawaii community around the need for competitive teacher and educator wages."

She added that the DOE is working with a national organization to compile comparative data and policy considerations "that we can use to engage our Board of Education, legislators, union, businesses and community members."

The teachers union says the new ranking bolsters its argument for new constitutional amendment that is set to go before voters in November.

The amendment would help fund public education by imposing a surcharge on investment properties valued at more than $1 million.

HSTA says the new surcharge just makes sense, but opponents argue a number of residences would be hurt by the new tax.

Meanwhile, the ranking this year also looked at whether teachers felt supported.

WalletHub said Hawaii has the nation's lowest percentage of teachers who feel supported by their administrator — at 39 percent.

Despite the terrible rankings, Hawaii ranked first in three areas: teacher tenure protections, teacher union strength, and a robust teacher rating system.

States could score a total of 100 points in the study. Hawaii scored a measly 35.18 points.

The ranking comes out as Hawaii continues to fill teacher vacancies at public schools statewide. Rosenlee said the analysis underscores why it's so tough to bring new teachers to the islands.

"When you're labeled as the worst place in the entire United States to teach, that's not a good recruiting tool," Rosenlee said.  "And we've got to change that."

New York, the best state for teachers, got 64.55 points.

To read the full report, click here.

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