California's average teacher salary is the fifth highest in the nation this year, but its per-pupil spending is the 12th lowest - indicating that the state is committing an extraordinarily high proportion of each school dollar to those salaries and relatively little on administration and other school expenses.
California's estimated average teacher salary, $69,324, comes from the newly published Digest of Education Statistics, compiled by the federal government's National Center for Education Statistics.
Its 12th lowest level of per-pupil spending, $9,202, is found in the statistical report from the National Education Association for the 2012-13 school year. The national average is $11,068.
The states immediately above and below California in teacher salaries all spend much more on their schools, as measured by the average per pupil.
New York, for instance, is No. 1 in average teacher salaries at $75,279 and is No. 2 in per-pupil spending at $19,523. The other three school systems higher than California in teacher salaries are Massachusetts, District of Columbia and Connecticut and all three spend at least $13,000 per pupil.
The three systems ranking just below California in salaries are New Jersey, Alaska and Maryland. They are spending at least $6,000 more than California per pupil, and in New Jersey and Alaska, twice as much.
The lowest average teacher salary is $39,580, found in South Dakota, but South Dakota ranks slightly higher than California in per-pupil spending at $9,347.
PHOTO: A kindergarten student raises his hand to give an answer in a class at the Fortune Charter School in Sacramento, April 26, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki, Jr.