Financial website ranks Maine among worst states to be a teacher

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BANGOR — It is much more difficult to be a teacher in Maine than in most other states, according to an analysis by WalletHub, a website that calls itself a “personal finance social network.”

Wallethub ranks Maine the ninth-worst state for teachers out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The site looked at metrics such as average starting salary, median annual salary, number of teachers per capita, student-teacher ratio and public school spending per capita to make its calculations. An explanation of the methodology by which Maine was ranked 43rd overall said the salary measurements were adjusted for the cost of living.

Wallethub said Maine ranks 45th for median annual salary. In the 2012-2013 school year, Maine teachers earned an average of $48,119, while the U.S. average was $56,383, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s about 1 percent less than what Maine teachers made during the 1999-2000 school year when the numbers are adjusted to reflect the cost of living.

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Maine Education Association President Lois Kilby-Chesley said she was not surprised by the results because Maine is usually one of the bottom 10 states when it comes to teacher salaries.

She said educator salaries affect Maine’s ability to attract and retain good teachers.

“We need teachers everywhere and if they can go to Connecticut and make $20,000 or $30,000 more, they’re going to,” she said.

Kilby-Chesley recalled speaking to a class of students studying education at St. Joseph’s College last year. When she asked the group how many of them planned to stay in Maine to look for jobs, none of them raised their hands.

“We have to keep in mind that we do have good schools here,” Kilby-Chesley added. “I’d be cautious when we see any of these reports to then start pointing a finger and say, ‘We’ve got to be doing this; we’ve got to be doing that.’”

Maine’s student teacher ratio was 12.69 to 1, lower than the national average of nearly 16 to 1, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The state also ranked higher than others on per pupil spending, at 21st in the country. An average of $10,608 was spent per pupil nationwide in 2012, according to a report issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. That year, Maine spent an average of $12,180 per pupil.

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