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California's Fourth Graders

Compensation is a big deal for ensuring a stable, diverse teaching workforce in California – and for the state budget. So how does California rate on teacher compensation?

Very well, according to a recent analysis from the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) using data from the 2019-20 academic year. California ranks 3rd nationally in average annual starting salary, after the District of Columbia and New Jersey. Even controlling for cost of living, California is 13th nationally – sandwiched between arch-nemesis Texas at #12 and our progressive friends in #14 Massachusetts.

But we also know that pay is not the only thing that matters – not by a long shot, according to the data on 4th grade math performance. Massachusetts’ fourth graders overperformed on its math assessment, ranking second nationally. Texas fourth grade math scores, at 16th nationally, lined up well with adjusted teacher salaries.

California’s students were tied for 43rd.

The special interests that have controlled education policy in California have kept teacher salaries among the highest in the nation. That’s not a bad thing. But they have also prevented policymakers from legislating the reforms that will allow our fourth graders to go toe-to-toe with those in Texas, Massachusetts, or anywhere in the world.

The fortunes of our fourth graders are the fortunes of our state. That’s why K-12 education outcomes are a priority for the 21st Century Alliance, together with building more homes and maintaining a strong business climate. We hope you join us in fighting for all three, by helping support candidates who will stand up to special interests and promote the general interest.

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