It was probably a surprise statement for many during last night’s Kentucky Tonight show on KET, which included Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters.
At 37 minutes and 40 seconds into the online version of the show, Brigit Ramsey, who now heads the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, stated that Kentucky’s teacher salaries now rank 26th in the nation among the 50 states. That’s right – right in the middle of the pack.
Because there will be a lot of disbelievers, we checked this one out. We pulled up the National Education Association’s (NEA) latest edition of their annual statistical bible, the “Rankings & Estimates, Rankings of the States 2016 and Estimates of School Statistics 2017” report. We cruised to Table I-12 in that document, which covers “AVERAGE SALARY OF TEACHERS AND INSTRUCTIONAL STAFF ($) (2017).” We even found a nifty hot link in the PDF report that allowed us to download an Excel spreadsheet with the entire set of tables from Section I. That made it super easy to rank the column holding the “All Teachers” salary information.
Sure enough, the Ramsey surprise was confirmed. According to the NEA itself, Kentucky’s 2017 teacher salaries rank right at the median – in 26th place – among the 50 states.
You sure haven’t been hearing that from Kentucky educators who are complaining they need more money.
By the way, I also took a look at the 2016 median household income in all 50 states as tabulated in the US Census Bureau’s web site. Kentucky only ranks just four places up from the bottom of the 50 states for its median household income level.
Got that: Kentucky’s teacher income ranks 26th, Kentucky’s taxpayer ability to fund that only ranks 47th.
So, while the Kentucky taxpayer is paying teachers at a level that ranks right in the middle of the nation, the taxpayers’ ability to do that is being very sorely strained.
Now, how is that again about raising taxes even more so our teachers can grab even more from our state’s very financially strained families? Could there be a gratitude problem here let alone a lack of touch with reality? Or, do teachers think tax dollars come out of thin air?