News flash: Hawaii is an expensive state to be a teacher. And for at least the second year in a row, the state is ranked as having the lowest teacher salary in the country when adjusted for cost of living, according to the personal finance website WalletHub.

Using different metrics that include salaries, work environment and pupil-to-teacher ratio, the website ranked Hawaii as “third worst state for teachers” overall in an annual survey called “2019’s Best and Worst States for Teachers,” just ahead of New Hampshire and Arizona (D.C. is included in the survey).

The good news is Hawaii has moved ahead in this informal WalletHub study: it was only three years ago that Hawaii was ranked as the “worst” state in the country for teachers — that year as well the state’s salaries came in dead last. In 2018, in the same WalletHub survey, the state also ranked worst in terms of average starting salary for teachers.

A middle school hallway in Hawaii. WalletHub’s survey drew on data from places like U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Education Association and National Center for Education Statistics. Ku’u Kauanoe/Civil Beat

This year, Hawaii is ranked 41st as far as average teacher’s starting salary — for a licensed teacher with a bachelor’s degree in the current school year, that means $49,100 a year or $53,028 for someone with a master’s degree. As Civil Beat illustrated in this recent analysis, the state’s cost of living is particularly tough on young adults (aged 25 to 34 — an age range many teachers here fall into) who are early on in their careers.

Here’s how WalletHub ranked Hawaii across more specific categories in the 2019 teachers’ survey:

  • 41st– Avg. Starting Salary for Teachers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 51st– Avg. Salary for Teachers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 36th– Quality of School System
  • 31st– Pupil-Teacher Ratio
  • 16th– Public-School Spending per Student
  • 44th– Teachers’ Income Growth Potential
  • 27th– Projected Competition in Year 2026
  • 31st– 10-Year Change in Teacher Salaries

In July, the same personal finance website ranked Hawaii 36th in the country in a survey entitled, “States with the Best and Worst School Systems,” based on such metrics as student performance, funding, class size and student safety.

Hawaii teachers on Oahu, Maui and Big Island will have the chance to weigh in this week on the issue of teacher pay to better inform the Hawaii Department of Education on desired changes to teacher compensation.

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