While a report earlier this year showed a high turnover of schoolteachers in the Beehive State, a new survey concludes Utah is a good place for those seeking a career in education.
A recent WalletHub report identified the best and worst states for teachers, ranking each state on how well they treat and pay their educators. WalletHub identified each state’s “teacher-friendliness” on 21 metrics, including income growth potential and student-to-teacher ratio, among many other factors.
Utah ranked at the No. 11 spot on the list, just ahead of Michigan, Rhode Island, North Dakota and Indiana within the top 15.
New York topped the list, beating out New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut and Pennsylvania for the top five.
Arizona bottomed out as the worst state for teachers, followed closely by Hawaii, South Carolina, Mississippi and Florida.
Despite Utah’s high marks, it had the second-highest student-to-teacher ratio, seen as a negative in this study. It also had the second lowest public school spending per student.
Also appearing incongruous to the WalletHub survey is a Deseret News report earlier this year on Utah teachers leaving their jobs at a high rate. More than half of public school educators who started teaching in 2008 left their profession by 2015, according to a Utah Education Policy Center report from the University of Utah.
"Compared to the national average, beginning teacher turnover rates are very high in Utah," the report said, according to the Deseret News.
To address the exodus, the Utah Legislature this year increased "the value of basic education funding units by 4 percent and property tax assessments by local school districts," according to the Deseret News, which enabled many schools along the Wasatch Front to offer pay raises to their teachers.
With the funding, Park City announced in May that it will raise its starting pay for teachers to $50,700, plus benefits. Veteran teachers in Park City received a $7,000 salary boost, too.
Salt Lake City School District raised its starting pay to $44,000 per year, the Deseret News reported, while most school districts in the state increased starting salaries to around $40,000 plus benefits.
While the pay boost may have influenced the WalletHub conclusions, Andrea Rorrer, director of the Utah Education Policy Center, told the Deseret News that increased salaries are only “part of the solution” for the lack of teachers.
"It's not as simple as just paying more," Rorrer said. "It's acknowledging the significance of the work that educators are doing that's important to them. It's recognizing the demand that they have (and) the expertise that's necessary to do the job they do and do it well.