Two years ago, we wrote an editorial titled "A troubling numbers game."
In that piece, we cited statistics from a website that helps teachers determine what states will provide the best living for the salary they receive. The site - TeacherPortal.com - ranked Hawaii last among the 50 states in "Salary Comfort Index" in 2009.
Not surprisingly, checking their data this year reveals we were still 50th at the end of 2011.
Our average teacher salary ranks if 15th in the country. So why is our Comfort Index so low? Obviously, it's because of our cost of living.
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center once again showed we are - by far - the state with the highest cost of living. That is to be expected, somewhat, because we are the only island state. Our composite cost of living is 170.83 - the next highest is the District of Columbia at 145.52.
The lowest composite cost of living was Tennessee at 90.12. Twenty-eight states had CCLs under 100.
We are the most expensive in groceries, housing, utilities and transportation. We are second only to Alaska in health care.
If we compare our average pay (15th in the nation) to the state ranked 15th in composite cost of living (Ohio), our CCL should be 93.28, not 170.83. Simply put, if housing, transportation and other goods and services cost $90.83 in 15th ranked Ohio, they cost $170.83 here.
In short, our teachers are grossly underpaid.
So what is the point of the editorial? If we want to keep and attract good teachers, we have to pay them a livable wage. We have to find a way to get more than 28 percent of the education budget to teachers.
The state needs to embark on a program to upgrade teachers' salaries. The problem will not correct itself overnight.
But we at least need to recognize there is a problem and map out a plan to solve it.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.