DESE study shows Missouri struggles to keep teachers in classrooms

Published: Jan. 13, 2023 at 4:48 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri school districts struggle to find teachers to lead classrooms, but that’s only part of the problem. The state also saw a decline in teacher retention.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary education recently released a study on the Teacher workforce. Part of the study found a slight decline in teacher retention. Union leaders say there are several reasons teachers are leaving the classroom. One of the issues is the lack of respect for the teaching profession and freedom to do the job well. Teachers are often required to do much outside work beyond what they do in the classroom. In addition to those issues is the topic of compensation.

“The pay gap between people with a similar amount of education that’s required to become a teacher in the state of Missouri and other states is widening,” said Missouri National Educators Association Communications Director Mark Jones. “So if you’re going to go through a four-year college career and then often have to get another more advanced degree or set of certifications, that can be quite expensive, particularly in light of the difference in pay. You’ll see compared to your peers who went to college with you, so that educator pay gap is a considerable focus, especially as the cost of higher education mounts.”

The average starting salary is $33,234, the lowest in the country. There are efforts in the legislature to increase the salary to $38,000 per year, but union leaders say that may not be enough.

“You’re also seeing educators really want to be treated as respected professionals,” said Jones. “It takes quite a bit to become an educator in Missouri. A lot of personal certification, some work on certifications and personal time, as well as a college education, and then to go into a working environment where you’re not treated as a professional, where you have a lot of top-down mandates coming from the state legislature or the Missouri Department of Education, rather than doing what you envisioned yourself doing which was working in the classroom and educating and inspiring students.”

According to the study, after three years, 51.9% of new teacher hires complete three years and continue into a fourth year, but only 38% of teachers complete a fifth year of teaching and continue teaching a 6th year.

For a closer look at this study, you can CLICK HERE.

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