Utah ranks second best state for teachers

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BYU students and alumni from the McKay School of Education reflect on their experiences after Utah ranked second best in the nation for states to teach in, according to Wallethub. 

“The education program here is amazing and has me excited to become a teacher,” said Bridget Baker, a senior in the elementary education program. “The program gives us a lot of real-life examples and opportunities in a classroom.” 

Wallethub examined the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 24 categories of “teacher friendliness,” such as starting and average salaries, pension and competition. Utah ranked second at 57.38, just behind New York at 59.33. 

Angela Stewart, a teacher of 19 years and a BYU graduate, said she thought the study was interesting. “I would never have guessed Utah to be that high up in terms of like teacher satisfaction,” she said.

Stewart reflected on her time as an educator on why Utah ranked so high. “I think back on some of my experiences, and so one of the things I think for Utah is that teachers have a lot of autonomy, like we can be creative and we can do a lot of what we want to in our classroom,” she said. 

However, BYU graduate Melanie Staten said she did not understand how Utah scored in the top two, saying that Utah could improve in the way it aids teachers.

“Busy work-type things and extra training that are not pertinent are not needed,” Staten said. “Teachers don’t need more things to do, they just need time to learn about, teach and love their students.” 

Another common complaint from teachers is salary and compensation. Stewart said the cost of living has gone up and teaching salaries do not match it.

“A lot of what this study was based on deals with pension and salary which is important when finding a job,” Baker said. “But the main things that I find important while finding a job as an educator are the opportunities that the school is willing to provide the students, how the principal and administration treat their teachers, and what grades are available to teach.” 

This study gives hope to teachers in Utah, and some are more willing to stay because of it.

Baker said the study gives her excitement. “I have loved my time teaching in Utah and my time in the schools here. It does make me want to stay in Utah to teach a little, knowing that other states will not be the same great work environment,” she said.

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