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South Dakota Teachers Nearly Last Again in Pay; Minnesota Teachers Have 25% More Purchasing Power

The “strongest economy in America” is still generating the second-lowest teacher salaries in America:

The latest data from the National Education Association shows South Dakota with the second-worst average teacher salary among all states and the District of Columbia; only Mississippi is worse.

That latest data from the National Education Association is from 2020-2021, when the average teacher salary for South Dakota teachers was $49,547 [Dan Santella, “The Challenges of Teacher Pay in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, updated 2023.01.14].

The goal of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s sales tax increase in 2016 was to raise South Dakota’s teacher pay to 39th in the nation. Governor Kristi Noem has apparently wasted that extra sales tax and let South Dakota teacher pay remain at the bottom of the barrel, failing to offer the competitive wages necessary to recruit and retain top talent.

But that’s the plan. Offering better pay that would attract the most talented teachers would only introduce South Dakota kids to more critical thinking, which only gets in the way of top-down party indoctrination.

South Dakota did raise its average teacher pay 1.15% from Academic Year 2020 to AY 2021. That was the 33rd-best increase in America, below the national average increase of 1.75%. That same year, Minnesota teachers saw an average 6.17% increase, the second highest increase in the nation, behind only Hawaii, where groceries cost more but you don’t need a snowblower.

The NEA stats show Minnesota’s average teacher pay in AY 2021 was $66,561, 34.3% higher than South Dakota’s. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development cites U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data to contend that South Dakota’s cost of living is 7.2% lower than Minnesota’s. Thus, on average, Minnesota teachers have 25% more purchasing power than their South Dakota counterparts.

How is that “strongest economy in America” working out for South Dakota teachers?


  1. larry kurtz 2023-01-17 06:58

    Recall Republican former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds won election to the US Senate for advocating the dissolution of the US Department of Education and in 2015 the state’s legislature passed a resolution to abolish it. The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. That’s because the Republican Party is the most dangerous institution on the planet today.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-01-17 07:53

    The site at this link lists SD’s COA as 1% HIGHER to MN’s, and the 2nd highest in the region, behind only CO.

    It uses the following as sources of data:
    Cost of Living by State
    Census Bureau Median Family Income by Family Size
    Average Rent by Year
    Average Monthly Expenses
    Homelessness in California 2020

  3. Richard Schriever 2023-01-17 08:02

    The site linked here lists SD’s COL at 6 points higher to MN’s. It uses data from the third quarter of 2022 by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

    Just sayin’. Mrs. Noem’s GOED seems to have searched for and found a favorable stat. Not necessarily THE authoritative one. Gotta make the boss happy if one wants to keep one’s job, I suppose.

  4. All Mammal 2023-01-17 12:03

    Mississippi has guys like Brett Favre stealing $70 million from TANF welfare to build a volleyball arena at his daughter’s college with his name on it. He wasn’t charged. I’d take a gander at what our grifters are up to, not to be too greatly outdone by our poverty sister to the south.

  5. Page James 2023-01-17 22:57

    South Dakota is going to have to steal Alabama’s state motto, “Thank God for Mississippi!!!!!”

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