Maui News

Study: Hawai‘i is Worst State in Nation for Teachers

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Hawaiʻi is ranked last in the nation, claiming the undesirable distinction as the worst state for teachers, according to a new study released today by the personal-finance website WalletHub.

With a score of 35.18, Hawaiʻi came in last as the worst teacher-friendly state and state with the lowest annual teacher salary (adjusted for cost of living). In comparison, New York was ranked as the best state in the nation for teachers, with a score of 64.55, with positive outcomes in per-student spending and projected teacher turnover.

The study also ranked Hawaiʻi: 44th for Teachers’ Income Growth Potential; 39th for Quality of School System; 34th for 10-Year Change in Teacher Salaries; 33rd for Pupil-Teacher Ratio; 27th for Projected Competition in Year 2026; and 18th for Public-School Spending per Student.


The 2018’s Best & Worst States for Teachers study was released ahead of World Teachers’ Day.  It identified teaching as “among the lowest-paid professions that require a bachelor’s degree.”

In order to help educators find the best opportunities and teaching environments in the US, WalletHub analyzed the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 22 key metrics, ranging from teachers’ income growth potential to pupil-teacher ratio to teacher safety.

The two key dimensions were: “Opportunity & Competition,” which accounted for 70% of the score; and “Academic & Work Environment,” which accounted for the remaining 30%.


Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association president, Corey Rosenlee responded to the news in a press release statement calling the findings unacceptable. “To be ranked at the very bottom of a national study just emphasizes the fact that Hawaiʻi’s teachers are the lowest paid in country which has resulted in high turnover rates and a shortage of more than 1,000 qualified teachers each school year… We need to reinvest in Hawaiʻi’s public schools now and make our keiki the number one priority. The way we can do that is to vote in favor of the Constitutional Amendment which will create dedicated funding for Hawaiʻi’s public schools.”

On Nov. 6, Hawaiʻi residents will have the opportunity to vote for a Constitutional Amendment that the HSTA says will help to fund public education “by imposing a surcharge on investment properties valued at more than $1 million.” According to the HSTA, if the majority of voters approve the amendment, next year’s Legislature will set up the details as how the surcharge will be implemented.

“Hawaiʻi’s public schools are severely underfunded and we all need to all join together to support teachers as well as the entire school system,” said Deborah Zysman, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Children’s Action Network, a non-profit that is committed to advocating for children. “The Constitutional Amendment is an important step towards improving Hawaiʻi’s schools for our children.”

***Sources: Data used to create the ranking were collected from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Education Association, National Center for Education Statistics, Council for Community and Economic Research,, National Council on Teacher Quality, Projections Central – State Occupational Projections, Learning Policy Institute, Education Commission of the States, The Thomas B Fordham Institute and WalletHub research.***


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