Hawaii teachers ranked 15th in pay
The latest survey by a national teachers' union ranks Hawaii 15th among the states in average teacher salaries, slightly above the national average.
But the head of the local teachers union is skeptical about the ranking.
"We've been above mid-range, however, when adjusted for cost of living, I believe we're rock-bottom when adjusted, said Roger Takabayashi, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Public school teacher recruitment and retention remains difficult in Hawaii due to the combination of the high cost of living and low salaries.
"We need to make teaching a profession and compensate teachers for the value that the society sees in teachers," Takabayashi said.
The average teacher salary in Hawaii for the 2004-05 school year was $47,833, an increase of 5.2 percent from the previous year, according to the American Federation of Teachers.
Currently, the teachers' union is in negotiations with the state. Its current two-year contract started ends on June 30.
"We're at a dilemma," Takabayashi said.
"We need to create a salary schedule that will attract and retain (teachers). I can't say that enough. We are in a competitive market nationwide," he added.
Nationally, teacher pay averages $47,602, a 2.2 increase from the previous year but not enough to cover the cost of inflation, the national union said.
Hawaii ranked eighth in the nation for starting teacher salary, with an average of $35,816, a 5.5 percent increase.