- In a new report on strengthening teacher recruitment and retention in Missouri, a blue ribbon commission is urging the state to raise teacher salaries through both short- and long-term strategies. This recommendation comes as 44% of the state’s newly hired teachers leave within their first three years and 54% quit within their first five years, the state Board of Education’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Blue Ribbon Commission said.
- The group recommends multiple ways to improve teacher pay, including legislation to increase the starting salary to at least $38,000. The current minimum is $25,000 for beginning teachers and $33,000 for teachers with a master’s degree. Salary supplements should be paid for high-need positions and teachers with national board certifications, the commission added.
- The report, released Tuesday, also suggests the legislature create a fund to support school districts in paying the increased minimum salary and making wages more competitive. Under one scenario outlined, it could cost an additional $81.2 million to raise average teacher salaries by $1,000.
The report's finding that Missouri teachers earn 28% less than those with similar levels of education in other fields in the state comes amid a growing nationwide concern of a significant pay gap for teachers.
An analysis released in August by the Economic Policy Institute shows teachers’ weekly pay and total compensation have worsened over time compared to other college-educated professionals. The EPI report acknowledged this situation discourages college students from entering teaching careers and makes it more difficult for districts to retain teachers.
While many districts are currently using federal COVID-19 relief funding to offer large signing bonuses and stipends to recruit and retain teachers, those funds won’t last forever as American Rescue Plan money must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2024.
The Missouri commission’s recommendations encourage state leaders to explore more sustainable efforts to support teacher pay once the extra federal funding runs out. Additionally, the legislature could create sustainable funding for grow-your-own teacher programs.
Besides focusing on ways to improve teacher salaries, the report also suggests the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partner with groups like the Missouri School Boards Association and the Missouri National Education Association to help provide districts with more mental health supports for their teachers.