Study ranks Missouri as good state for teachers

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COLUMBIA - A new study put out by WalletHub ranks Missouri as one of the best states for teachers, but a spokesperson for the Missouri State Teacher Association said Thursday he disagrees.

Missouri is fourteenth on the list, according to WalletHub. The criteria included job opportunities, salaries, income growth potential and pensions, demand for teachers and public school enrollment.

Todd Fuller, spokesperson for Missouri State Teachers Association, said there are some issues with the study.

"There are portions of the category that they use that puts us at fourteen, but in reality we're actually one of the lowest states, in terms of salary for instance," Fuller said.

According to the Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri ranked 42 out of 50 states for teacher salary last year.

"The [national] average teacher salary is around $57,000. Missouri is usually around $47,00," Fuller said.

Paul Katnick, assistant commissioner for the Office of Educator Quality, said he can't disagree with Fuller when it comes to low teacher salaries in Missouri.

"The only thing I think helps us out is it's cheaper to live here than it is in other parts of the country. But he's right. It's tough. We could do better," Katnick said.

According to the study, Missouri ranked second in the nation when it comes to "job opportunity and competition."

Fuller said the amount of job opportunities in Missouri depends on where you are in the state.

"There's a lot of competition for jobs around suburban areas. There's a lot of competition is Columbia for jobs. What we see happening a lot, though, is rural areas are struggling to find teachers to teach in those smaller communities," Fuller said.

Katnick said Missouri is still a great place for a teacher to come work.

"We've really gotten serious in the last year by focusing on equity. So, we've submitted an equity plan. What we're after, our goal is to put an excellent teacher in front of every kid, in every classroom, across the state," Katnick said.

Fuller said Missouri still has a lot of work to do when it comes to education.

"I think Missouri is a great place for students to learn and I think that we have some of the best teachers in the United States," he said.

The top 10 states in the study are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Wyoming, Virginia, New York, Texas, Utah and Connecticut.

The bottom five are Mississippi, Oregon, Arizona, West Virginia and Hawaii.