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Your state’s teachers are underpaid. Find out by how much.

It’s not just West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona: Teacher salaries have been stagnant or falling for years.

Teachers have gone on strike in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, and Colorado — and in most of these cases, they are demanding higher wages and increased education funding.

It started with a nine-day teacher strike in West Virginia, where teachers were told they would receive just a 1 percent pay raise and would be required to pay more for health insurance. Eventually, the governor gave in to the teachers’ demands and gave them a 5 percent raise as well as a hold on increasing health insurance premiums.

This spurred a wave of teacher strikes, and there may be more to come.

There’s the old truism that public school teachers aren’t paid enough, but these strikes highlight a trend that we’re seeing nationwide: Public school teachers aren’t getting raises that keep up with inflation — and their health insurance costs are increasing. Over time, this essentially amounts to massive pay cuts. It’s a pernicious trend because raw salaries tend to increase by small amounts, so it can be hard to detect.

And it’s not just a problem in those states. Chances are it’s happening in your state too. So let’s take a look.

Let’s find out how your state is doing

How do states pay for education?

A unique aspect of the American education system is that a huge portion of funding comes from local property taxes.

A smaller chunk of money — less than 10 percent — comes from the federal government, and this share has shrunk in the past few years.

The rest of the money is appropriated from the state, and it hasn’t changed drastically in the past 10 years:

The feds are accounting for about the same amount as they were before the recession, but states are now contributing a little less. In 2007, states were responsible for about 47.6 percent of receipts. That dipped to 44.1 percent in 2010 and now has bumped back up to 46 percent. Meanwhile, local taxes have been increasingly funding public education.

In the table below, you can see how public education in your state was funded in 2017:

Where does education funding come from, by state

State FEDERAL STATE LOCAL
State FEDERAL STATE LOCAL
United States 8.4% 46.0% 45.6%
Alabama 11.2% 54.9% 33.9%
Alaska 15.3% 59.7% 25.0%
Arizona 15.4% 38.6% 46.0%
Arkansas 10.7% 50.3% 39.0%
California 8.9% 58.0% 33.1%
Colorado 7.5% 45.7% 46.8%
Connecticut 3.5% 42.2% 54.4%
Delaware 11.0% 56.4% 32.6%
District of Columbia 8.9% - 91.1%
Florida 11.7% 42.0% 46.2%
Georgia 11.2% 43.4% 45.4%
Hawaii 11.9% 86.1% 1.9%
Idaho 9.9% 64.9% 25.3%
Illinois 7.9% 24.0% 68.2%
Indiana 9.8% 59.1% 31.1%
Iowa 5.5% 57.7% 36.8%
Kansas 8.3% 66.4% 25.3%
Kentucky 8.9% 62.8% 28.3%
Louisiana 14.6% 42.6% 42.8%
Maine 15.9% 35.9% 48.2%
Maryland 6.7% 45.7% 47.6%
Massachusetts 5.0% 40.0% 55.0%
Michigan 14.9% 66.1% 19.0%
Minnesota 5.2% 71.9% 22.9%
Mississippi 19.4% 46.9% 33.8%
Missouri 8.4% 33.0% 58.5%
Montana 13.7% 52.6% 33.8%
Nebraska 6.5% 36.0% 57.4%
Nevada 11.4% 37.0% 51.6%
New Hampshire 5.9% 34.3% 59.9%
New Jersey 3.8% 40.9% 55.3%
New Mexico 12.4% 70.7% 16.9%
New York 4.7% 37.3% 58.0%
North Carolina 10.4% 59.1% 30.6%
North Dakota 7.7% 42.1% 50.2%
Ohio 7.8% 44.3% 47.8%
Oklahoma 11.1% 47.9% 41.0%
Oregon 7.0% 51.0% 42.0%
Pennsylvania 7.9% 35.2% 56.9%
Rhode Island 8.4% 39.3% 52.3%
South Carolina 9.0% 47.7% 43.3%
South Dakota 13.8% 29.8% 56.4%
Tennessee 12.0% 49.2% 38.8%
Texas 8.6% 41.3% 50.1%
Utah 11.4% 49.0% 39.6%
Vermont 5.7% 89.2% 5.1%
Virginia 7.7% 36.7% 55.6%
Washington 7.6% 58.3% 34.1%
West Virginia 14.5% 59.7% 25.8%
Wisconsin 6.4% 46.1% 47.5%
Wyoming 5.7% 57.0% 37.3%
Data from the National Education Association

But as states deal with budget crises, and as state lawmakers push tax cuts for businesses and corporations, public school teachers haven’t gotten the raises that would help them keep up with inflation. In fact, most states haven’t restored education funding to pre-recession levels.

As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes:

Most states cut school funding after the recession hit, and it took years for states to restore their funding to pre-recession levels. In 2015, the latest year for which comprehensive spending data are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in 2008.

All of this means that teachers have a genuine gripe: They really have been getting paid less. That’s not just in the states where teachers are considering a strike; it’s probably true in your state too.


Help our reporting on teacher salaries

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