The average salary for a. U.S. teacher was $45,771 in 2002-03, up 3.3 percent
from the previous year, according to new report from the American Federation
Similarly, the average starting salary--$29,564--represented a 3.2
percent increase from the year before.
But those increases were offset by a 13 percent spike in premiums paid for
health insurance, according to the union, which cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics for its source on the insurance number.
"Exorbitant health insurance costs are taking an intolerable bite out
of already inadequate teacher salaries," said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Edward
J. McElroy. "Even as teachers are being asked to do more, compensation
packages are nothing short of insulting and fail to take account of growing
health care and other out-of-pocket costs to teachers."
The AFT also cited a Educational Research Service finding that superintendents'
average salaries reach as much as four times the size of teachers' average
"States and school districts are crying poverty when it comes to teachers'
pay, yet somehow find money for extravagant administrator salaries. Strong leadership
without a quality teaching force won't improve education," McElroy said.
Average teacher salaries by state
California had the nation's highest average salary in 2002-03, at $55,693.
States joining California in the top tier were Michigan, at $54,020; Connecticut,
at $53,962; New Jersey, at $53,872; and the District of Columbia, at $53,194.
South Dakota had the lowest average salary in 2002-03, at $32,414. The other
states in the bottom tier were Montana, at $35,754; Mississippi, at $35,135;
North Dakota, at $33,869; and Oklahoma, at $33,277. Also in the lowest tier
were the Virgin Islands, at $34,764; Guam at $34,738; and Puerto Rico, at $22,164.
Average beginning teacher salaries. Alaska had the highest average beginning
salary in 2002-03, at $37,401. States joining Alaska in the top tier were New
Jersey, at $35,673; District of Columbia, at $35,260; New York, at $35,259;
and California, at $34,805.
Montana had the lowest average beginning salary in 2002-03, at $23,052. The
other states in the bottom tier were Maine, at $24,631; South Dakota, at $24,311;
North Dakota, at $23,591; and Arizona, at $23,548.
Adobe PDF versions of selected tables can be downloaded here: