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Study ranks Hawaii as least teacher-friendly state in US

HONOLULU — A new study ranks Hawaii as the least teacher-friendly state in the nation.

Hawaii teachers get the lowest annual salary based on the cost of living — about $24,000, according to the study published Monday by WalletHub. The average salary for all teachers is about $30,000, the study said.

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The Hawaii State Teachers Association agrees with the study’s findings. The rate of Hawaii teachers leaving for the mainland has gone up by 84 percent since 2010, said Corey Rosenlee, the president of the teacher’s association.

Because Hawaii teachers are the worst paid in the nation, about a third of the state’s students don’t have a fully qualified teacher, Rosenlee said.

“We had 19 openings for special education teachers in Nanakuli, Waianae area, and we could only hire one teacher this year,” he said.

Rosenlee called Hawaii’s ranking embarrassing.

The state Department of Education is working with a national organization to compile comparative data and policy considerations that it can share with the state Board of Education, legislators, unions, businesses and community members.

The first part of the review will be completed within about three weeks, and a more in-depth study will be available in the spring.

WalletHub’s study ranked New York as the best state for teachers. New York was followed by Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois and North Dakota.

WalletHub determined the rankings by comparing all 50 states and the District of Columbia on two categories: “opportunity and competition” and “academic and work environment.”

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Hawaii also has the nation’s lowest percentage of teachers who feel supported by their administrator, only 39 percent, the WalletHub study said.

But Hawaii did rank high for teacher tenure protections, teacher union strength and robust teacher rating system.