Breaking down Idaho’s ‘teacher-friendly’ rankings

According to a personal finance website, Idaho is the 12th best state in the nation to be a teacher.

Let’s take a closer look at the survey, and the results.

First off, what is Based in Washington, D.C., touts itself as “the Web’s best personal finance resource.” Wallethub calls itself “a one-stop destination for all the tools and information consumers and small business owners need to make better financial decisions and save money.”

What about the No. 12 ranking? It’s a mixed bag, because the site ranks the states on two broad categories.

What’s the good news? The site ranks Idaho No. 3 for what it calls “opportunity and competition.” That includes criteria such as average starting and annual salaries, adjusted for cost of living; 10-year trends in teacher pay; and projected number of teachers per capita in 2022. Wallethub emphasized “opportunity and competition” in its rankings. “Because competitive salaries and job security are integral to a well-balanced personal and professional life, we assigned a heavier weight to the ‘opportunity and competition’ category.”

What’s the bad news? Idaho ranked No. 38 for its “academic and work environment.” That includes categories such as student-to-teacher ratio, school rankings and per-capita school spending. For example, Wallethub ranks Idaho No. 51 in per-capita spending. Idaho tends to rank near the bottom in this category, ranking No. 50 in a recent Census Bureau report.

Who’s No. 1? That’s neighboring and oil- and natural gas-rich Wyoming, buoyed by high salaries and high per-capita spending.

Who’s No. 51? North Carolina.

What are the reactions? Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign seized on the report Tuesday. “I appreciate the results of this survey because I want our teachers to know we value them. That being said, I want Idaho to be an even better state for teachers.” Otter touted his education task force’s recommendations to boost teacher pay — a plan tied to a controversial licensing plan opposed by the Idaho Education Association.

Reactions on the governor’s Facebook page were less flattering. Said one tongue-in-cheek commenter: “It’s on the internet, it must be true.”

What are other people saying? Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss took a skeptical view of the findings. She said the study failed to consider several other metrics, such as job protections for teachers and the “overall impact of corporate-based school reform.”

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday