May 9, 2024 - News

Teacher pay lags in Arizona despite significant gains

Map showing average teacher salaries by U.S. state for the 2022-23 school year. The average U.S. teacher salary was $69,544. California, New York and Massachusetts had the highest average salaries at over $90,000 while salaries were lowest in West Virginia, Florida and South Dakota at around $53,000.
Data: National Education Association; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Arizona is still in the bottom half of states when it comes to teacher pay, but the state made some of the biggest gains in the country last year.

By the numbers: The average Arizona teacher salary in the 2022-23 academic year was $60,275, which ranked the state 32nd in the country, according to data from the National Education Association.

  • That puts Arizona well below the national average of $69,544.

Yes, but: Arizona's average teacher pay increased from the previous year by $3,500, or 6.2%, which was the eighth largest jump in the country.

  • The national average increased by 4.1% during the same period.

The big picture: Policymakers have struggled for years to increase Arizona's notoriously low teacher pay.

  • In 2018, the Red for Ed movement prompted a historic teacher strike.
  • Lawmakers that year approved a plan spearheaded by then-Gov. Doug Ducey to increase teacher pay 20% by 2020, a goal most districts failed to meet.
  • GOP lawmakers and Gov. Katie Hobbs are now advocating separate plans to increase teacher pay through state land trust proceeds in the reauthorization of Proposition 123.

What they're saying: Arizona Education Association president Marisol Garcia said the gains were "encouraging" and attributed them to "historic investments" in the budget that lawmakers passed in 2022.

  • But she partly attributed those salary increases to federal COVID relief funding that will dry up at the end of the school year, along with one-time state funding.
  • "Arizona continues to rank near the bottom nationally in per-pupil spending on public education, and we still struggle to recruit and retain experienced, passionate educators," she said in a statement to Axios.

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