Missouri’s average starting salary for teachers ranks last in the country
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Schools in Missouri are facing challenges in recruiting and retaining staff this year, which officials from the Department of Advanced Education and Workforce Development and the Department of Primary and Secondary Education (DESE) say is an effect of the poor remuneration of educators in the state.
“Teachers earn less per dollar than people in other professions,” said Dr Paul Katnik, Associate Commissioner at DESE. âTeacher compensation has been the subject of discussion for several years and the pandemic has certainly not made it any easier or better for us. “
Missouri ranks 50th in the country for the average starting salary for educators, at just $ 32,970, or about 19.9% ââbelow the national average starting salary of $ 41,163 per year, according to to the National Association of Education.
Between 2019 and 2020, Missouri ranked 45th in the country for average annual educator salary at $ 50,817, about 2% higher than the average salary of $ 49,822 for Arkansas, which ranked 47th. according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
Of the eight states bordering Missouri, Arkansas is the only state with a lower average salary for educators, placing Missouri eighth for lowest average salary among its competitors.
âWhen you look at the minimum wage for teachers, we’re still at $ 25,000,â Katnik said. âAll of our border states have higher minimum wages than we do. “
“We finished last with them on that one, so that’s a problem.”
During a Capitol Hill hearing in Jefferson City on federal stimulus spending in November, DESE Commissioner Margie Vandeven pleaded with legislatures to increase educator salaries, highlighting Missouri’s shockingly low salary figures and the competitive compensation offered in border states.
âIf we don’t do something quickly, it’s very easy for our teachers to cross state borders,â she said during the hearing. âBy just looking at our border states, we are falling far behind. “
Illinois has the highest average salary of the nine states, at $ 68,305, about 34.4% more than the Missouri average, and recently surpassed legislation which aims to gradually increase the minimum salary for teachers from $ 32,076 during the 2020-2021 school year to $ 40,000 by 2023-2024.
âTeachers are leaving the field at a faster rate than ever before,â Vandeven said during the hearing. “There has not been an increase in teacher salaries or an increase in respect for our teachers (in Missouri) for a significant period of time.”
The last time teachers in the state received a raise was in 2006, when the minimum wage for teachers was uneven from $ 18,000 to $ 25,000.
âOur supply is down and our demand is up and when that happens, when you’re a business, you have a problem,â Katnik said. âThis is what we have been seeing for several years over and over again.
âThe pandemic didn’t cause any of this, but it certainly made the situation worse. “
DESE recently announcement its mission for the coming school years, one of which is to raise the minimum starting wage from $ 25,000 to $ 35,000 by 2024-2025.
DESE is also working to recruit and retain more educators, as well as advocate for employees who are often overworked and underpaid, Katnik said.
âBefore, you had to have 60 credit hours to be a substitute teacher,â he said. âWell, it takes a little while and takes money, or whatever. “
âWe have created an online training where you can jump online. In a day or two, you can take all of these lessons on how to be a good substitute teacher, professionalism and how to engage students, and lesson plans – things like that. Then it serves as an alternative to these 60 semester hours.
Since the launch of the new training programKatnik said more than 1,200 people have jumped online and started their substitute teacher training. He said Missouri faces shortages of surrogates, so the more people authorized and distributed across school districts, the more support educators will receive.
âWe have a website if you want to go check it out,â he said. “It’s called teachMO.org and it’s kind of a landing site.
âIf you decide, ‘I want to be a teacher,’ you go to this site and there you will find all kinds of different information and resources on how you start, and what you do next, and where the programs are, and that kind of stuff.
Katnik said schools should use recruitment and retention grants to support their educators, whether that is by hiring more paraprofessionals, substitutes, allocating stipends, or funding any other resource that could improve the high intensity challenges. labor costs and the financial burdens that teachers endure on a daily basis.
âSo we have the grants, we have this recruiting campaign that we are doing, we are working to increase the number of subscribers that we have,â he said. “These are the things that we are sort of actively doing that we think will help.”
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