Washington ranked No. 5 best state in the nation for teachers

Washington was rated the fifth-most teacher-friendly state in the nation, according to a recent study by WalletHub. However, Washington’s high ranking in the study comes on the heels of two recently-ended teacher strikes in Seattle and Kent.

To determine its rankings, the personal finance website compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia in two broad categories – Opportunities & Competition and Academic & Work Environment – across 24 specific metrics.

Some of those specific metrics included teacher’ income growth potential, pupil-teacher ratio, and whether the state has a digital learning plan.

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez spoke to the Evergreen State’s top-10 finish.

“It ranks particularly high in terms of opportunity and competition, since it has very competitive starting salaries and average salaries for teachers – almost $45,000 and $69,000, respectively,” she explained in an email to The Center Square.

Per the study, Washington came in at No. 4 in terms of average starting salary for teachers and No. 5 for average teacher salary.

Gonzalez went on to say, “Over the past 10 years, Washington registered the biggest increase in teacher salaries, at over 56%, the state has one of the lowest shares of new teachers with inadequate pensions and tenure kicks in after just three years.”

Washington ranked No. 7 in terms of the share of new teachers with inadequate pensions, and No. 8 in terms of length of time before tenure goes into effect.

Teacher pay was a factor in the teacher strikes in Seattle and Kent that ended earlier this month.

On Monday night, the Seattle Education Association voted to ratify a new three-year contract with Seattle Public Schools.

The union voted to go on strike on Sept. 6 – the day after Labor Day – and picketed until they reached a tentative agreement with the district on Sept. 12.

Per the new contract, teachers represented by the union and school staff will get a 7% raise this year, followed by a 4% raise over the next two school years. If the cost of living increases in the second and third years of the agreement, wages will increase to match it.

The Kent Education Association approved a new collective bargaining agreement with the Kent School District on Sept. 7. Teachers went on strike Aug. 25.

The agreement that ended the two week strike includes a 7% wage increase in the 2022-23 school year, as well as a 1% inflationary increase funded by the state.

As reported by The Center Square last month, four out of 10 teachers in the Kent School District made over $100,000 during the last school year, according to government data.

Teacher pay wasn’t the only reason for Washington’s fifth-place finish in the WalletHub study.

“Other factors that contributed to Washington's ranking include the existence of a digital learning plan, the availability of state guidance on accessible technologies, the requirement for annual teacher evaluations, and the presence of teacher effectiveness requirements,” Gonzalez pointed out.

Washington earned top rankings in all those categories.

Neighboring Pacific Northwest states Oregon and Idaho did not fare as well as Washington in WalletHub’s rankings.

Oregon earned No. 30 overall ranking, while Idaho came in at No. 20.

The 10 best states for teachers:

1. New York

2. Utah

3. Virginia

4. Florida

5. Washington

6. New Jersey

7. Pennsylvania

8. Massachusetts

9. Maryland

10. North Dakota

The 10 worst states and state designates for teachers:

51. Hawaii

50. New Hampshire

49. District of Columbia

48. Arizona

47. New Mexico

46. Missouri

45. Louisiana

44. Maine

43. Montana

42. Nevada

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