Connecticut Tops in Teacher Pay, Educators' Union Says


WASHINGTON - Teachers in Connecticut continue to earn more than their counterparts in any other state, according to a survey by the American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents more than one million educators.

The average teacher salary in the Nutmeg State during the 1997-1998 school year the latest time period for which there are figures was $51, 727. South Dakota the lowest average teacher salary -- $27, 839, the survey showed. The national average salary for teachers was $39,347, the AFT said.

The survey, which was released on Monday, covered the nation's 200 largest school districts. Among other findings:

  • Respondents indicated they're having more difficulty attracting qualified teachers than four years ago, perhaps reflecting the tight job market caused by the nation's current economic boom.
  • The shortage of teachers is severe in math, special education and bilingual education.
  • Other shortages include: foreign language specialists, science, and computer teachers, school psychologists and occupation and physical therapists.
  • Both the average teacher salary and beginning teacher salary have increased since the previous year. The average overall increase was 2.4 percent. For beginning teachers, the average increase was 2.9 percent.
  • Teacher experience has increased from 1978 the average is now 16 years, an increase of just over five years of experience.

With improvement of the public school system clearly a top priority of the voters, who named education their number one concern in exit polls conducted during last November's election, states are offering large financial incentives to successful teachers. Lawmakers in California included money to give teachers who raise test scores bonuses of up to $25,000 in the state budget they approved last week. Massachusetts is recruiting teachers for under-performing urban schools by offering $50,000 signing bonuses to some new hires.

In descending order, here are the top states in average teacher pay, according to the AFT survey:

  1. Connecticut, $51,727
  2. New Jersey, $50,284
  3. New York, $48,712
  4. Michigan, $48, 361
  5. Alaska, $48,275
  6. Pennsylvania, $47,542
  7. District of Columbia, $44,746
  8. California, $44,585
  9. Rhode Island, $44,506
  10. Massachusetts, $44,285
  11. 10. Illinois, $43,707

For a complete listing of average teacher salaries, click on

According to Census Bureau figures, the average per capita income in Connecticut was $35,863 in 1997, and in South Dakota it was $21,076. The median household income for the same year in Connecticut was $43,985 in South Dakota $29,694. The National Association of Realtors said the average cost of a house in Hartford, Connecticut was $138,100 in 1997 and $90,200 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


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