LJWorld.com weblogs First Bell

Kansas 42nd in teacher pay


The average teacher in Kansas made a salary of $47,464 during the 2012-2013 school year, far less than the national average, and less than their counterparts in almost any other state.

That's according to the latest estimates from the National Center for Educational Statistics, which ranked Kansas 42nd among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for average teacher pay.

The report also shows Kansas has been slipping in relation to other states for at least the past few years. It was 41st in the previous school year, and 39th in the 2009-10 school year.

That can be the result of several factors, including the size of annual pay increases as well as the number of new teachers in the pool, since new teachers tend to make less than their more veteran colleagues.

Kansas ranked slightly behind Missouri, which posted an average salary of $47,517. The nine states ranking below Kansas were: North Dakota, Florida, Arkansas, New Mexico, West Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Mississippi and, bottoming out the list, South Dakota, at $39,580.

The figures are based on a survey by the National Education Association and do not include the cost of fringe benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off and other benefits, many of which are difficult to quantify and categorize.

In the Lawrence school district, the average base salary for a teacher last year was $46,064, district officials said. Total compensation, including benefits, was $55,564.

Average teacher salaries, by state, for the 2012-2013 school year. Data from National Center for Educational Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_211.60.asp

Average teacher salaries, by state, for the 2012-2013 school year. Data from National Center for Educational Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_211.60.asp by Peter Hancock


Larry Sturm 4 years, 5 months ago

Shows what cutting taxes and not funding schools at a proper amount does. BROWNBACK AND KOCH BROTHERS BAD FOR KANSAS.

David Juiliano 4 years, 5 months ago

So why is no one pointing out the obvious. Every state has a different cost of living so this comparison is completely bogus. In fact I would wager that the average salary for teachers in Kansas when you take cost of living into effect is actually better than that in New York.

David Juiliano 4 years, 5 months ago

By the way, we used to be ranked 46 back in 2007. So doesn't seem like we are going down or that cutting taxes had anything to do with it.

David Juiliano 4 years, 5 months ago


This article is 2010, I'd like to see more current if someone can find it. However it ranks Kansas at 19th for teacher compensation when you adjust for various factors including cost of living.

Alan Geist 4 years, 5 months ago

COL adjusted salaries compared to state median income, Kansas is 24th, with a teacher's salary $3166 higher than the state median. 18 states have salaries below median. Most of them are deep blue.

Top 10: 1. Ohio, 2.Michigan, 3.Kentucky, 4.Louisiana, 5.Pennsylvania, 6.Tennessee, 7.Arkansas, 8.Indiana, 9.Georgia, 10.Illinois Bottom 10: 41.S. Dakota 42.Colorado 43.Alaska 44.Vermont 45.Virginia 46.New Jersey, 47. Connecticut, 48.Maryland, 49. New Hampshire, 50. Hawaii

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

You can't base it off the states median income, Kansas has tons of low paying jobs so the median will be lower, that doesn't justify not paying the teachers.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Why not compare to state median whatever that may be? If they are above the median that means they are making more than 50% of their fellow state inhabitants. It would appear from the above data if the teachers are 19th compared to other states with cost of living factored in, what is the concern? If they rank anywhere above 25th compared to other states with cost of living factored in there shouldn't be any serious outcry of being underpaid.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

COL and state median are two completly different things. The COL factors in things such as taxes, utility cost, insurance prices, ect. But thatis still going to be off In states like NY because the price of living in NYC and any other part of the state are going to be drastically different. This would give a better picture than strictly looking at states median income though, which would account for kids working at McDonalds, Walmart or other non career jobs, that has nothing to do with what teachers should be paid. Maybe they should figure out the median of other careers that require a 4 year degree and see where teachers fall on that list.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

I disagree. Yes, COL and median are different but both show important data. Teachers are currently making above the median income in KS. So they are doing better than 50% of all the states inhabitants. That is not bad. Also one has to take into account that teachers have more days off than full time employees. If you adjust for the actual number of days worked they would be even higher up the ladder against the median. Yes I acknowledge they (some but not all) do some continuing education in the summer. But still in addition to summer break they get fall, Christmas and spring breaks which most employees do not get. Anyway one cares to look at it, teachers work less days than the typical full time employee. Before anyone states I don't know what teachers really work, I am very good friends with four K-12 teachers. They certainly work when they do work but the number of days off for breaks, vacation etc is well beyond the average full time employee.

The COL comparison is valuable to see how teachers in KS (which has a lower COL) compare to teachers in other states. If they are 19th when COL is factored in then they are doing better than more than 50% of other states teachers. Again not bad.

So KS teachers are doing better financially than the majority of people in KS and they have more days off as well as they are doing financially better than teachers in the majority of states when COL is factored in. So where is the beef? Pay is all relative. Teachers can be paid $1M per year but if everyone else is paid $950,000 then they are no better off. The actual dollar amount on the check doesn't matter. What does matter is how does one's check compare to everyone else. In this case the KS teachers are better than average compared to the general state population and better off than average when compared to teachers in other states. There doesn't appear to be a significant reason to complain.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

If you want to compare teachers against other four year degrees then be sure to compare actual number of days worked per year. I believe you will find teachers don't work as many days per year as the typical four year degree employee.

Also teachers knew or should have known what the pay, benefits and time requirements are for a teacher before getting their degree. If they didn't like the pay or benefits then they should have chosen a different profession. But to knowingly pick a profession then complain that they aren't getting fair pay is disingenuous.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

Teachers on average work the same number of hours in a year that a normal 9-5 person would work, so your assumption that because they work less days is not valid.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Teachers most certainly work less days than the average 9-5 employee. OECD data showed US teachers spent 1080 hours teaching per year, which works out to 6 hours per teaching day. The average work year is considered 2080 hours. This would allow teachers 1000 hours per year for non-teaching issues. This would be over 19 hours per week (for the full 52 week year and we all know they don't work 52 weeks per year). If you consider a school year is 180 days or 36 weeks,but for ease let's use 40 weeks that would mean the teachers have 25 hours per week or 5 hours per day to do other work issues other than teach and still be working no more than a typical full time employee.

If you look at recent OECD data they compared teachers salaries (in US dollars) of OECD countries. The starting, 15 year and maximum salaries in the US are all above OECD averages and even more above the EU21 averages. So once again it would appear that the US teachers are doing OK against teachers from comparable countries. By the way despite being paid above OECD averages, their students are functioning at or below OECD averages. So we are paying more for lesser results.

Devin Wilson 4 years, 5 months ago

"Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year. It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit. We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year. I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE…That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on. My calculator needs new batteries.)

What about those special education teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here. There sure is.

The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student– a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog"


John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Nice but silly argument. There are laws outlining how many children each babysitter can care for in a licensed daycare. It is no where near 30. Also the average class size for public schools is approx 20 for elementary, and 24 for secondary.

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

Forget holidays and summers off, blah blah blah. Let's just look at the hourly pay for only the contracted hours (as if any teacher works only the contracted hours...).

Lawrence's contract is 186 8-hour days, or 1488 hours. Take a nice round number of $50K divided by 1488 and you get about $34/hour. In Lawrence, to earn $50K you need a master's degree and a dozen years' experience.

So, if y'all think $34/hour is just fine for a master's degree and a dozen years' experience, then there's no problem. If you think that's an embarassment to our state....vote your conscience.

BTW, I always wonder about those folks who think teaching is so easy and/or overpaid. If teaching is such a gravy train....why aren't YOU on it?

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

I don't believe anyone thinks teachers are overpaid. But some things must be kept in mind such as teachers knew what pay and benefits were like before getting their degrees. The facts are teachers avg pay puts them above the median in the state compared to all inhabitants, above the median (when cost of living is included) compared to teachers in other states, and by OECD data US teachers pay is above average compared to teachers in OECD and EU21 countries.

Being a teacher was never going to be a path to financial riches but those in the profession should have known that before ever going to college. To go into the field then complain about alleged inadequate pay is like a nurse complaining about having to work nights, weekends and holidays, or having to deal with sick people. If you don't like the prospects, don't go into that field.

Also don't forget many teachers can retire with full benefits in their early 50's after thirty years of service or so (depends on contract). Not too many careers have that feature in this state.

I am not stating teachers are overpaid. But with the data outlined above if one is going to argue they are underpaid then there should be objective data provided to support that claim not just emotional statements claiming underpayment.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

You have yet to prove that there is any objective support they are paid at an adequate level. We know they make far less than their peers with college degrees, yet your option is oh well better have chosen a different profession. These people are responsible to the viability of America's future, where would we be without an educated population? I guess we will see in a few years because that is what Brownback seems to be aiming for. And I don't think anyone is suggesting that teaching should be a path to riches, we are simply stating that for the education level they have attained and the hours and environment that they work in they should be paid better. And world wide US teachers are paid toward the bottom of the list Even your OECD data says they are paid less than other countries (http://www.edwize.org/u-s-teachers-paid-less-work-longer-than-oecd-average)


John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

You are correct the OECD documents US teachers teach more hours per year than other countries. But the students in the US are at best average to below average in OECD data dating back several years. So maybe the US teachers aren't as efficient as other countries. Here is an idea, pay teachers based on outcomes. When the US students start to perform in the upper rankings of OECD countries then the teachers will be paid accordingly. Right now the US is paying for more results than we are getting.

That is objective OECD data showing we are paying above average pay for below average results. You wanted objective data regarding teachers salaries, so now you have some.

Amy Varoli Elliott 4 years, 5 months ago

You don't seem to get the big picture in all this, if a job is know for crappy pay you will not get the top people, you can't have it both ways. And study after study has proven that standardized test are a horrible measure of student knowledge yet because of the government schools are required to teach to them.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Amazing how the US always finds excuses why our students routinely do average to below average compared to other OECD countries. Maybe the answer is they do a better job than we do.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Then make the universities actually have some standards before they allow everyone that can pay tuition into the education program. Why do you think scholarship athletes list education as their major? It is one of the easiest degree programs available.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Then how do you explain several OECD countries that pay less than the US kicked our butt? Apparently other comparable countries that pay less than US can get better results. Money doesn't mean better. The US spends at the very top per pupil yet are not getting that king of results

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

You are over-simplifying the issue of "performance," for students, teachers, and nations' educational systems.

The single best predictor of academic performance is economic status. The child poverty rate in the US is about 25%. Compare that to the typical top academic performer, Finland, where child poverty is about 3%.

Look up some disaggregated analyses of the latest PISA scores and see where the US ranks when poverty is accounted for. If we compare US schools where the poverty rate is less than 10%, the US ranks at or near the top worldwide.

Also worthy of consideration is that we try to educate everyone, and we administer those global assessments accordingly. Not every country in the world does those things. Oh, how great we would look if we only tested our top performing students.

Now, many folks have already written me off as making excuses; and blaming poverty. These aren't excuses, they are facts. Also facts: violent crime and death from preventable illness are both higher in poverty-stricken communities. Why aren't we blaming that on the local police and medical professionals? Because that would make no sense, that's why. Yet, invariably, folks want to blame teachers when the kids in those communities don't do well in school.

Here's a challenge: find me one, just ONE, so-called "dropout factory" or "failing" school located in an affluent neighborhood. Take your time. I'll wait.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

So fine Finland has a lower poverty rate. Explain Korea and Vietnam both of which kicked US butt on testing. What excuse do you have for that?

The fact remains the US spends significantly more than average per pupil yet are getting average to below average results. People can make all the excuses they want but the facts are the facts.

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

A quick peek at the CIA world fact book just now...looks like both those countries have poverty rates about half of what ours is. And Vietnam begins public education as early as 18 month of age. That goes a long way towards buffering the effects of poverty during early childhood.

Still waiting for you to name ONE so-called failing school in an affluent community in the USA. And still waiting for you to blame the crime rate and preventable disease deaths in our inner cities on lousy doctors and lousy police officers. Still waiting....

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Keep making excuses, it has done a bang up job of educating the kids thus far. By the way the CIA numbers have US 15.1, Korea 15, and Vietnam 14.5. So those countries have same level of poverty yet kicked our butt on testing. Feel free to come up with another excuse. Oh I know, they must have cheated.

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

US child poverty rate is about 25%. If you think 15 = 25, there's really no point arguing with you. But I'm STILL waiting for you to name ONE so-called "failing" school in an affluent neighborhood. There are about 250,000 public schools in this country. Surely you can find ONE "failing" school in an affluent community.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

You are the one that wants to use CIA data. So I point out what CIA data is based on their report now you claim something else. You seem to change the argument when your "facts" are called into question.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

By your own argument if 25% of kids are in poverty and poverty is the cause of poor education then money for schools and teachers has no impact. If poverty is the problem then the schools are failing 25% of the kids. Other countries with similar poverty rates are doing better on OECD data so they have figured it out unlike the US.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Let me make it easy for you to understand. The blog started with the idea that teachers in KS are underpaid. Then it was shown when COL was factored in teachers in KS are paid above avg. it was then suggested that even if paid better than other states, teachers weren't paid as well as accountants or nurses or other four year degrees. It was pointed out teaching is paid better than humanities and social science majors which are the most comparable degrees. Can't compare a teaching degree to accounting, nursing, hard sciences because those degrees require more academic achievement to obtain than a teaching degree. Then the argument shifted to better pay for teachers would result in better teachers because better people would go into teaching. It was shown that countries that paid less than the US did better than the US on OECD data. Then you come in and claim poverty is real issue. So fine if poverty is real issue then raising teacher salaries for whatever reason will not result in better outcomes for the students thus no reason to raise salaries. There all in one neat tidy package for you.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Fine, poverty is to blame. Our system doesn't work as well as other countries because they have equal levels of poverty yet do better than the US. Since you claim poverty is the main issue then by your reasoning there is no need to increase spending on facilities or teachers because it won't make a difference since poverty is the problem. By the way how is that liberal war on poverty doing?

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

There is no objective basis for what anyone is paid. Pay is based on supply and demand principles. You may not like that but historically that is the way it has been. Education is important but one can't really compare the value of one job to another. The socialists have tried that and it never worked. Movie stars, musicians and athletes get paid very well but is what they do really more valuable than a surgeon that restores your health? If you have a bad appendix you might think your surgeon is worth more than what George Clooney made in his last movie. Is education more important than plumbing? If your sewer is backing up in your house I bet I know which way most people will feel at that moment. You personally feel teachers should be paid more. You are entitled to your opinion but you can't prove they should be paid more based on any objective basis regarding "value" of a teacher compared to any other profession. One can be all philosophical about it but it all comes back to supply and demand.

Yes I firmly believe the statement about if one doesnt like the pay and benefits of their future job, then pick a new career. It is the same in any field. It should not come as a surprise to any new teacher what their pay is. If one doesn't think it is adequate then they should choose a different career path. I am sure every artist wants to be paid well but they know going in that they most likely will not. Same way most engineers know they will be paid well.

As far as failing to supply support for my opinion on salaries, I disagree. The average teacher salaries are above median salaries for all individuals in the state and above median for teachers in other states when COL is factored in. Also the OECD data you state I question since it comes from an opinion website. Below is the real data from OECD. As you can see the pay for US is above average compared to OECD and EU21.


David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

OK. let's apply your supply-and-demand angle. If the pay is good enough, can you explain why about 50% of people who enter the teaching profession leave it within five years?

Or, more philosophically, why our society tends to view the profession as something people decide to do only if they've failed at any "better" option?

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Because a teaching degree is easier to obtain than other degrees except for humanities and social sciences. If you can find a way to pay tuition and you have a pulse you can get a teaching, humanities or social science degree. Health science, hard sciences (math, chemistry, physics) and engineering all require significantly more academic achievement to be allowed into those programs.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

If you are suggesting a degree in education is tougher to get than an engineering degree you must be drunk. The difference is what classes are required. Prerequisites in engineering are much tougher than those in education. Anyone with a pulse can get a degree in education, humanities or social sciences. Look where the majority of scholarship athletes list their major and you find the easiest programs.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Education has some open programs as well that only require 2.5 GPA in content area or science, with 2.75 overall. The main difference will be math. Education requires 2 "math classes". Engineering requires demonstrated proficiency in calculus. Also Engineering requires a significantly ACT score or SAT math score to enter engineering compared to the university general admission standard. So let's not try to make like an education degree is any where near as difficult to earn as an engineering degree. Anyone suggesting that is clearly delusional.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

By the way average starting pay for teachers is above those with degrees in humanities and social sciences which would be the closest degree comparisons. Nurses and accountants make more but one can't compare a teaching degree to an accounting degree or nursing degree. Both of those programs require a greater level of academic achievement to be allowed into those programs. Degrees in teaching, humanities and social sciences are more comparable in the level of academic achievement needed to obtain a degree. Degrees that are harder to get should pay more.

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

I see you dodged the supply-and-demand question. If the pay is sufficient compared to the work and skill required, why do half of those who enter the profession leave it within five years?

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Doesn't matter. You haven't bothered to address the real problem of why the US despite top rate spending on education is producing only average or below average results. More money hasn't fixed this before so there is no reason to believe it will this time.

David Reber 4 years, 5 months ago

YOU brought up supply and demand, not me. Now, seeing that the compensation isn't sufficient to retain people in the profession, you say it doesn't matter. Classic.

Believe it or not, experience matters. Before you say nay, ask youself when you last saw a mechanic advertise "I have no experience"; or any other profession, for that matter.

When half of all teacher leave within a few years, we have a teaching force heavy on neophytes. Not that these people aren't good or dedicated, but experience matters. But I fully expect you to reply that it matters in everything except teaching, because that's the sort of teacher-bashing Kool-aid you like.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Keep making excuses why education in the US lags other countries despite more money per pupil spent.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Retaining teachers doesn't matter because you pointed out that poverty is cause of poor performance of students on testing. Retaining teachers won't address poverty thus it won't affect the kids. That is based on your reasoning

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

He was the one stating poverty was the problem.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Fine if poverty is the cause then one doesn't have to pay more for teachers.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

I am sure that may be the case with experience but that effect also decreases after the first couple of years.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

Here is a nice study that found that teaching experience has no significant impact on student outcome. It found math education helped math teachers and science education helped science teachers. But it noted no change based on experience. You will find it on page 9, right column.


John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

The US educational system is not working as evidenced by US rankings in OECD data that has repeatedly shown the US in the average or below average categories. This is despite the US spending at the very top rate per pupil. Countries spending considerably less per pupil are getting considerably better results. The answer from the educational system seems to be more money. They want more money for buildings, computers, administrators, non-teaching staff and increased teacher pay. Despite more money after more money the results fail to show improvement. The answer from some above is more money will make for better teachers. This theory has not worked in the past so why should we believe it now? Other countries that pay their teachers less have better results than we do. So pay increases for teachers does not mean better outcomes. Some argue poverty rate is to blame. There are countries with worse poverty rates that have better results than we do. Oh those countries must be cheating. So all 16+ countries that are kicking our butt are all cheating and we are the only ones doing this honestly? I doubt it.

Pay the teachers more that is fine, just don't expect better results from the kids on international testing. Though you can expect more excuses from people trying to explain why the US does so poorly.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 years, 5 months ago

From what I can tell Kansas is ranked about 10th in the most affordable place to live. Which means there are 40 other states more expensive then us. If we are the 42nd Lowest in teacher pay, does this correlate to the low cost of living? Did this survey factor COL in the calculation?

Richard Heckler 4 years, 5 months ago

If the public education system is such a disaster why haven't 99% of parents moved their children into private schools? There are plenty available. Lots of famous,brilliant and wealthy people in the USA attended public schools.

The public school system began having some problems when the right wing party of Kansas decided to stop meeting funding obligations set forth by law. This right wing party has become law breakers therefore should be prosecuted accordingly.

These ALEC led sheep want to turn over the public education system and OUR millions of tax dollars to private industry. This coming from an organization that meets secretly behind closed doors which is exactly how corporate USA operates. NO THANK YOU. Profit becomes the bottom line not education. These are the same profit dollars that play a party in corrupting legislation and election year politics.

In 2003 when there was a ton of focus on public education and teacher salaries this survey was presented by the LJW.

Teacher Salary Support
Would you favor a sales tax increase to provide more money for Lawrence teacher salaries? Of 5,198 votes on the issue of supporting increased teacher salaries 4,204 voted in favor of a sales tax. Seldom do LJW surveys draw this number of participants.


While this method of supporting teachers in our school district might be practical it is illegal.

John Graham 4 years, 5 months ago

That is fine Barbara feel all smug and superior. If that is what it takes for you to feel better about yourself go right ahead. How sad for you.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.