Dr. Carey Wright

A report released by Education Week shows Mississippi’s State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is the highest paid of all of her counterparts around the nation.

Wright’s annual salary is $300,000, nearly twice as much as the national average pay of $174,000. Mississippi has the nation’s 46th lowest per-pupil spending rate. Arizona’s state chief of education Diane Douglas comes in as the lowest paid at $85,000.

According to Education Week, the reason for Wright’s high pay is a 1999 law requiring that the K-12 head’s salary be 90 percent of what the commissioner of higher education makes. Although that law was done away with in 2011, the State Board of Education, which sets the superintendent’s salary, did not make any changes to the pay of Wright or her predecessor, who made $307,000.

The report discussed the additional responsibilities given to state superintendents of education following the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. These include creating and implementing state accountability systems and improving the lowest-performing schools under their purview.

“Despite that, state chiefs are paid, on average, $174,000 — about $60,000 less than the average pay for the superintendent leading their state’s largest district” the report states.

 

Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.