RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Federal numbers show that Virginia's teachers are paid more than the national average, but educators in some areas of the state get significantly less.
According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released this week, Virginia elementary school teachers receive average annual wages of $58,510, compared with a national average of $56,130. Middle school teachers in Virginia are paid average annual wages of $58,180, compared with a national average of $56,280. And secondary school teachers in the state receive average annual wages of $60,180, compared with the national average of $57,770.
The latest figures are from May 2012 and are based on the federal Occupational Employment Statistics survey. The numbers differ from those reported by the Virginia Department of Education, which show that the state's classroom teachers received an average salary of $52,096 in the 2011-2012 school year, less than the federal figures and less than the national average.
"Virginia teachers produce some of the best results in the nation," Virginia Education Association president Meg Gruber said in a statement. "To recruit and retain the best possible teachers, Virginia needs to pay them fairly."
The head of the state's largest teacher organization also said that Virginia must invest more in teachers to keep them from going to neighboring states that pay better.
Among Virginia's 10 metropolitan areas, only the Washington region — which includes Arlington and Alexandria — had wages for all teachers that were significantly more than the national average, according to the latest federal figures. Teachers at all levels in Lynchburg, Richmond and Roanoke were paid significantly less than the national average, ranging from $42,100 for middle school teachers in Lynchburg to $53,150 for elementary school teachers in the Richmond region.
In Virginia, there are 36,220 elementary teachers, 16,610 middle school teachers and 23,640 secondary school teachers, according to the federal data. The Washington region had the largest number of teachers at 42,320. The Virginia Beach and Richmond areas totaled 16,630 and 10,830 jobs, respectively.
Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.