Teachers are vital resource in this country despite the fact that they are notoriously underpaid, overworked, and rarely given the recognition that they deserve. However, the majority of teachers claim that they are responding to a calling rather than a high salary. Future generations are grateful for this commitment decade after decade regardless of how difficult it is to truly express the gratitude of the nation to the men and women making a difference in the classroom day in and day out. We must be especially grateful to the teachers working in the following five states due to the fact that they are the lowest paid educators in the United States.


The Sunshine State is the fifth worst in the nation when ranked by teacher salary averages. The average annual pay for educators working in the public school system is a meager $46,702 a year. On top of this fact, Florida school systems have slashed over 12,000 education jobs over the past two years. This reduction in staff leaves every teacher with roughly 16 students in each classroom. Currently, the system does not show any signs of stabilizing. More jobs are expected to go as time moves forward in the current economic climate. Miami school districts already estimate the need to cut their public school budgets by $150 million in the very near future. There is also talk of a bill that would handcuff all teacher salaries to the test scores achieved by their students. The Education Association of Florida vows that this bill will be fought to the very end.


Utah falls just behind Florida with an average teacher salary of $46, 570 per year. Every teacher is instructing an average of 22 students in a single classroom, making them 50th in the nation when it comes to student-teacher ratios. Many districts across the nation are adopting policies in which seniority in the profession serves to protect one’s job. Under this system, the newest teachers are the first to be fired when budget cuts take effect. Utah legislators are currently considering a bill that would ban such policies in public schools.


Number three in the ranking of worst-paying states, this part of the country compensates teachers with $46,400 each year. Despite the low salary, the teacher to student ratios are 11th in the nation. There is one teacher for every 11 students enrolled. Missouri has done very little to increase or reduce the budget for public education. However, the costs of materials and daily living expenses are rising due to the current economic climate. This constant level of inflation is enough to do measurable damage to the quality of education that is being provided in the classroom. Because of the rising costs in maintaining schools and other social institutions, there will be forced layoffs in the very near future.

North Dakota

Also ranking high in the student to teacher ratio, North Dakota teachers earn an average salary of $44,200. Despite the low pay, NAEP math and reading scores rank very high in the national averages. Student math scores were 4th in the nation in recent years while reading scores were ranked 10th . Regardless of the success, state representatives are currently in the process of overhauling the system to form a new Department of Education. The only danger to North Dakota comes in the form of federal budget cuts that will reduce the budget for some districts by up to $6 million.

South Dakota

Finishing last in the top five is South Dakota, paying teachers only $35,200 on a yearly basis. The math and reading scores for students in this state are also high in the national averages despite the fact that the governor proposes a cut for public education of at least 10 percent of its annual budget. The state Education Association claims that such large cuts will be a crippling blow to the educational foundation that they have fought to establish over time. In reaction to the outcry, Governor Daugaard made a pledge to strengthen the state curriculum for math and the sciences.

While budget cuts and various forms of red tape can hinder the salaries of our teachers, there are places where teaching is a slightly more lucrative career. Moreover, some school districts have incentive programs to help pay student debt for teachers committed to working in their district for a set period of time. It’s also good to keep in mind that teaching can be a greatly rewarding career, regardless of the pay.

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