California teachers are nation's highest paid, report says

WASHINGTON -- Public school teachers in California earned the most last year and those in South Dakota the least, the nation's largest teachers union reported Thursday.

Overall, increases in education revenues and teacher salaries lagged behind rates set last year, while school enrollments increased, according to the National Education Association. The group represents more than 2.7 million elementary and secondary teachers and other education professionals.

Revenues for education are expected to increase by 4.3 percent this year, the NEA said.

Teacher salaries grew more slowly than the economy, with an expected increase of 2.7 percent for the school year, the group said. At the same time, enrollment in public schools rose by nearly 500,000, with the largest increases in Nevada, Arizona, and Florida.

"These new numbers show that despite the vital importance of education for our future, schools around the country are just barely holding their own," said Reg Weaver, the NEA's president.

The report said that the average salary of a public school teacher for the 2001-2002 school year was $44,499, with 36 states paying salaries below that level.

California teacher salaries averaged $53,870, followed by Connecticut and New York. Teachers in South Dakota were paid $31,295, with North Dakota and Mississippi rounding out the bottom three.

The report said there are 2,968,904 million public school teachers and they teach more than 47.6 million students.


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