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Missouri State Board of Education looks to increase minimum starting teacher salary

Teachers make almost 20% less than their peers with the same level of education, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This week, the Missouri State Board
Published: Dec. 10, 2021 at 4:44 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Teachers make almost 20% less than their peers with the same level of education, according to the Economic Policy Institute. This week, the Missouri State Board of Education is working to close that gap.

The board has adopted legislative priorities that aim to raise the minimum teacher salary from $25,000 to $35,000 by the 2024-25 school year. Missouri is ranked 50th in the nation with the lowest average starting salary and 45th for teachers with experience.

“Anything that helps recruit people into the profession is certainly a good thing,” said Mark Jones, Communication Director for the Missouri National Teachers Association. “Obviously, raising the salary from the bottom of the nation to something more in line with our neighbors around us is definitely a good step. Our hope is that we would see not only an increase for folks who are coming into the profession, but that would also help raise the pay scale across the board. Nobody goes into teaching thinking they’re going to have a corner office and drive a luxury vehicle. You do it because you love working with students and helping them achieve their best.”

According to a Missouri State Teachers Association survey, more than half of educators are thinking about leaving the profession.

“We just simply don’t have enough folks going into teaching in the first place,” said Brent Ghan, Deputy Executive Director Missouri School Board Association. “We have a lot of data showing that people are leaving the teaching profession within five years of beginning the profession.”

According to the National Education Association, teachers make 76 cents for every dollar that those with similar education and experience make. Union Leaders say the pay gap is just one factor that is making teachers consider leaving the profession.

“When you look at the compensation for a person has an equivalent amount of education,” said Jones. “Often you have what we call a teacher pay gap. They’re just not earning nearly as much as their peers are, who have the same level of education. But also it’s respect. I think anyone who works a job knows that well. Pay is important, how you’re treated in the workplace, how you’re valued if you’re viewed as a professional, and how your skills are respected. Educators also want to be respected for the professionals.”

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced it will invest $50 million over the next three years for the recruitment and retention program.

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