A new analysis ranks New Jersey the most teacher-friendly state in the nation.

The WalletHub.com report ranked Jersey second in quality of school systems, third in per-pupil spending and fourth in pupil/teacher ratios. WalletHub ranked New Jersey schools 10th nationwide in average starting salaries for teachers, but a lower 27th in the 10-year change in teacher salaries. It ranked New Jersey 15th in teachers' income growth potential.

"Our members do incredible work under really difficult circumstances," New Jersey Education Association spokesman Steve Baker said. The association is the largest teachers union in the state. "We work hard with our members to negotiate salaries that allow people to live and work here in New Jersey.

"It is a constant effort to work together, and in the collective bargaining process to get those type of results. And we are proud of the results that we have achieved."


Moving forward in Jersey, Baker said, "we need to continue to restore the respect of the profession." He said that one of the biggest challenges in New Jersey right now is a lack of respect for the education profession by too many people who make decisions about public education.

New Jersey School Boards Association spokeswoman Janet Bamford agrees there's still room for improvement, especially where kids are not realizing their full potential.

"Districts are working hard to remedy that," she said. "It is not just salaries. It is not just the spending on public schools that states engage in. It really has to be the mix of everything."

Massachusetts came in second in the Wallethub study, which ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Illinois, Minnesota and Wyoming rounded out the top five states for teacher-friendliness. At the other end, Hawaii was 51st. West Virginia came in 50th.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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