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State's Teachers Second-Highest Paid in Nation

Education: Average salary increases 10% to $52,480 a year. But California's national ranking drops to 16th when the cost of living is factored into wages.

July 17, 2002|ERIKA HAYASAKI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The average pay of California's public schoolteachers rose 10% last year to $52,480, boosting the state's ranking from seventh- to second-highest paying for educators in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday by the American Federation of Teachers.

The state also ranked second in the nation in pay for new teachers, starting them at an average of $33,121, the union's report found.

California "is in a very small category by itself because most states forget about experienced teachers and concentrate on recruiting new teachers to the profession," said Janet Bass, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Teachers. "California did both. These are good numbers."

Once the cost of living is factored into teachers' salaries, however, California's rank drops from second to 16th, according to the survey.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday July 20, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 7 inches; 277 words Type of Material: Correction
Teacher pay--An article in Wednesday's California section about a rise in average pay for California teachers misstated the minimum salary for a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District. New teachers with bachelor's degrees may earn a minimum annual salary of $34,853 and those with master's degrees may earn a minimum of $40,504, according to the district. The somewhat higher figures in the article reflected average starting salaries.

And some worry that such hikes came during secure financial times and won't continue this year because of a gloomier economic climate.

"I expect things are going to level off again because of the cuts we are facing," said Mary Bergan, president of the California Federation of Teachers.

"Plus we are facing big battles at the table about health benefits."

John Perez, president of United Teachers-Los Angeles, said the report will do little to cheer Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, who have not seen a pay raise in two years.

"While it's nice to see that national pay for teachers has increased, locally that means very little," he said.

Perez said Los Angeles Unified teachers deserve much higher salaries to compensate for the local cost of living, and are trying to fight off proposals that may raise their out-of-pocket costs for health care.

New teachers in Los Angeles Unified with a bachelor's degree earn a beginning salary of $32,569, according to the district. The minimum salary for teachers who have a master's degree is $45,166.

The annual report, compiled this year with numbers received by state departments of education from 2000 to 2001, found that the nationwide average for beginning teachers has risen 4.4% to $28,986.

Teachers across the country have 16 years' experience on average and earn $43,250, a 3.4% increase over the previous year but one of the smallest raises in 40 years, the report said.

"We're seeing some progress is being made to boost beginning teacher salaries, and that is clearly a response to a teacher shortage," said Bass, the AFTspokeswoman.

"But we're not seeing as much progress for veteran teachers. That's just as important because we need to retain good teachers."

California teachers' average earnings of $52,480 were second to Connecticut's pay of $53,507. New Jersey, New York and Michigan were the next three highest-paying states.

States with the lowest average pay for teachers in 2001 were South Dakota, at $30,265; North Dakota, $30,891; and Mississippi, $31,954.

California's average new teacher pay of $33,121 was topped only by Alaska's $36,293. New York, Delaware and Connecticut fell slightly behind California. The lowest average beginning salaries were in North Dakota, at $20,675; Montana, $21,728; and South Dakota, $22,457.

Average teacher salaries still lagged behind other white-collar fields, including mid-level accountants, who earned an average of $52,664 a year; computer system analysts, $71,155; engineers, $74,920; and attorneys, $82,712, the report states.

The average nationwide new teacher salary of $28,986 also lagged behind other professions for new college graduates.

Accounting graduates were offered an average of $37,143; sales and marketing graduates, $40,033; and engineering graduates, $50,033, the survey found.

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Average Teacher Salaries

Highest average salaries

Average pay in California for teachers rose to the second highest in the nation this year, according to a recently released report.

Connecticut -- $53,507

California -- $52,480

New Jersey -- $51,955

New York -- $51,020

Michigan -- $50,515

Lowest average salaries

Montana -- $33,249

Oklahoma -- $32,545

Mississippi -- $31,954

North Dakota -- $30,891

South Dakota -- $30,265

Highest average beginning salaries

Alaska -- $36,293

California -- $33,121

New York -- $32,772

Delaware -- $32,281

Connecticut -- $32,203

Lowest average beginning salaries

Idaho -- $23,386

Mississippi -- $23,292

South Dakota -- $22,457

Montana -- $21,728

North Dakota -- $20,675

Source: American Federation of Teachers

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