California teachers make more than national average, less than living rate, review finds

California has the third highest average salary for teachers and the fourth highest average starting salary for teachers in the country, according to the National Education Association’s (NEA) “The State of Educator Pay in America” 2023 review, published in late April.

The average teacher salary in the state is $88,508 and the average starting salary for teachers is $51,600. The starting salary, however, is below California’s minimum living wage of $54,070.

The teacher pay gap in the state, comparing the salary of those in the field to other college-educated professionals who have similar experience, is 82 cents.

The average starting salary for teachers in the U.S. is $42,845, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year, and the average public school teacher’s salary is $66,745, an increase of 2 percent.

The organization found that the average pay for educators has not kept up with inflation with teachers making an average of $3,644 less per year (adjusted for inflation) than they did a decade ago.

Roughly 3.2 million K-12 public school teachers were employed in the U.S. in 2021–22 and the number of teachers was expected to decrease by 0.3 percent in 2022–23.

In addition to teacher salaries, NEA’s review considers pay for education support professionals and student spending per state.

Three-quarters of the more than 3 million education support professionals who work in public education in America work in K-12 schools. Paraeducators are the most common education support professionals in K-12 schools at 40.3 percent of the overall workforce.

Almost 40 percent of education support professionals who work in K-12 schools full-time make less than $25,000 per year, according to the review.

The average earnings of K-12 education support professionals in California is $39,321 (seventh in the nation) while the average earnings in the nation for full-time education support professionals in K-12 in 2021–22 was $33,177.

Overall earnings for education support professionals in 2021–22 was $35,401, up from $31,905 the prior year, but when adjusted for inflation, “the salary for ESP in 2013 dollars has fallen from $31,905 to $28,734,” the review states.

Those who teach in states with collective bargaining earn an average of 25 percent more at $57,558 versus $71,996 and school support staff earn an additional 15 percent.

Based on fall enrollment, the average per-student expenditure in 2021–22 was $15,368 in the U.S. — a 5.9 percent increase from 2020–21. In California, per student spending was $16,423 (18th in the nation).

In 2022‒23, per student spending in the U.S. was projected to increase by 4.6 percent to $16,080, according to the review.