Study: Idaho teacher salaries rank lowest in nation

(UPDATED, 5:50 p.m. Friday, to reflect response from State Board of Education President Linda Clark.)

From pre-K through college, Idaho educator salaries rank at or near the bottom nationally, according to a new study.

Using Census Bureau numbers, the Brookings Institution’s The Hamilton Project compares salaries and accounts for local cost of living. Here’s the grim rundown:

  • For all teachers, not counting postsecondary instructors, Idaho’s salaries rank lowest in the nation, and come in 12 percent below the national average.
  • Kindergarten and pre-K teacher salaries also rank lowest in the nation, and lag 18 percent behind the national average.
  • Special education teacher salaries rank second-lowest in the nation, topping only Maine. Idaho’s average salary comes in 23 percent below the national average.
  • Idaho’s salaries for primary and secondary teachers lag behind the national averages by 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Postsecondary instructors fare better; here, the Idaho average comes within 4 percent of the national average.

The numbers don’t paint an up-to-date picture, State Board of Education President Linda Clark said Friday.

In a guest opinion submitted to Idaho Education News Friday, Clark points out that teacher salaries have increased 9 percent over the past three years, when the state implemented its five-year, $250 million teacher career ladder.

“The (Idaho Education News) article does not paint an accurate picture of teacher salaries in Idaho today,” Clark wrote. “We have momentum, and Idaho is making headway improving teacher salaries.”

The Hamilton Project’s teacher salary numbers are part of a much bigger study, titled, “Where Work Pays: How Does Where You Live Matter For Your Earnings?” The researchers looked at 320 occupations and compared salaries across all 50 states and 420 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas.

One more set of numbers, for the sake of comparison: Idaho editors and reporters make 20 percent less than the national average. (Just saying.)

To slice and dice the numbers for yourself, here’s a link to The Hamilton Project’s interactive map.

The Brookings Institution is a nonpartisan public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. The Hamilton Project (and yes, it is named for Alexander Hamilton of “Hamilton” fame) says its mission is to produce “innovative policy proposals on how to create a growing economy that benefits more Americans.”

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]

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