Ariz teachers really are underpaid
Arizona Republic
Jan. 9, 2008

Pat Kossan
Arizona teachers always complain they are underpaid. A national study released Wednesday shows they may have a point.

Public school teachers make about 81 cents for every dollar earned by Arizona residents in comparable careers, such as accountants, computer programmers, and nurses. It's not as if teachers anywhere are raking in the cash, but the state lags far behind the national average: 88 cents to every dollar.

Teacher salaries have been rising slowly in Arizona, with an average teacher pay of $42,967, about $4,800 less than the national average.

When it comes to training and rewarding its K-12 teachers, a leading annual study titled "Quality Counts 2008" gave Arizona a D+ and ranked it 40th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Arizona has fallen behind about half the states by not funding a statewide mentoring program for all new teachers and not requiring schools to limit the number of elementary students in one class.

The state is beginning to track the qualifications and experience of teachers in low-income schools, where children need highly-skilled teachers to keep up with their wealthier peers. But the state isn't yet providing incentives to help these schools attract and retain the best teachers, the study reported.

In other benchmarks, Arizona also fell well below the national average for funding its schools, but outpaced most other states in implementing its statewide grade-by-grade learning goals and keeping schools accountable for student progress.

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