The financial management company SmartAsset has released its second annual study of the best places to be a teacher in the US. Factors such as school quality, culture, affordability, and salary levels all come into play for teachers who have the luxury of deciding on the best place to live.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual pay for elementary and kindergarten teachers was roughly 40.4% more than the median income for employees in general. Still, school teachers in some parts of the country, especially those with high costs of living, find it challenging to make enough money to support their families.
SmartAsset ranked 140 of the largest US metropolitan areas across seven regions. It studied average high school graduation rates, the cost of housing, crime rates, and average math and reading proficiency levels in each of its metro areas.
Because the Bureau of Labor Statistics redefined its metro areas, SmartAsset could not accurately assess the growth of teachers' salaries and the job prospects in the last school year, so these two factors were not included in this year's study. Instead, the company added two new factors, which were the per student funding for school districts in the area and the strength of each state's teachers union.
The central findings include that Pennsylvania has one of the strongest unions in the US and has four of the top ten places to be a teacher. Florida has seven of the worst places to be a teacher and educators' salaries in the metro areas are, for the most part, lower than paychecks in the top ranking metros for teachers. Also, housing costs are higher in the state.
The Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area in Ohio-Pennsylvania has an average high school graduation rate of 88%. Those graduates are close to several excellent colleges in the area, such as Youngstown State University and Kent State University at Salem. In the Youngstown metro area, the average public school teacher's salary is $57,909 annually. Housing-related expenses average about $644 monthly.
Akron, Ohio school ratings in reading and math proficiency show that schools and teachers are doing a good job, and students in the Indianapolis-Carmel metro area, along with Akron students, had the third best achievement numbers in the 2013-2014 academic year.
The Pittsburgh area spent the largest amount of money on their students out of the top ten metro areas in the study. Districts in Pittsburgh, according to the US Census Bureau (USCB), spent $10,868 on each pupil. The City and other portions of Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the 2012 Thomas B. Fordham Institute's review of the country's strongest teacher unions.
The probability of finding a teaching job in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is high. The unemployment rate in the metro area was 4% in June 2016 and 3.6% in 2014, says BLS information from the USCB. SmartAsset's data shows that Cedar Rapids is also the best place to raise a child. The average high school graduation rate is 88%.
Fort Wayne, Indiana has a low cost of living and the average yearly salary for teachers is $49,848, while housing costs average roughly 17.4% of a person's income. And Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania has one of the strongest teachers union in the country and the average teacher's salary is $60,925, which is approximately 39% higher than the average salary for all employees in the metro area.
There seems of to be a dearth of teachers in Lincoln, Nebraska, although the public schools score well and 86% of students graduate from high school. The state of Nebraska holds the eighth place on the list of states with the best K-12 schools.
The second highest math and reading proficiency rates in the study were scored in Canton, Ohio's metro area. Approximately 84% of students in the Canton-Massillon, Ohio area, on average, tested at the proficient level for both subject areas.
Public schools in the York-Hanover, Pennsylvania metro area spend more on each student than most of the other metro areas in the study. USCB data found that school districts in and around York spend roughly $12,848 per pupil.
Spending more money on individual students does not necessarily ensure them a world-class educational experience, but an Albert Shanker Institute study suggested that there is a definite link between the amount of spending on students and the success rates of students.
And in Dayton, Ohio, the average educator in the metro area makes $60,257 a year. The average housing-related expense is $9,900. These amounts mean that teachers will have money to pay other bills and even use some of their paycheck on discretionary items.