Teacher shortage in Mississippi compounded by low pay and fewer - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Teacher shortage in Mississippi compounded by low pay and fewer education majors

The state designates some districts as Geographic Shortage Areas. Teachers there can qualify for incentives like housing assistance or loan repayment programs.....Source: WLBT The state designates some districts as Geographic Shortage Areas. Teachers there can qualify for incentives like housing assistance or loan repayment programs.....Source: WLBT
Unfortunately, the teacher shortage we are facing is not a surprise. We’ve known this was coming, and the State of Mississippi has done little to avoid it.....Source: WLBT Unfortunately, the teacher shortage we are facing is not a surprise. We’ve known this was coming, and the State of Mississippi has done little to avoid it.....Source: WLBT
One way they've worked to create a pipeline of new teachers is to bring former students back as teachers.....Source: WLBT One way they've worked to create a pipeline of new teachers is to bring former students back as teachers.....Source: WLBT
We’ve seen the amount of teacher licenses issued fall from 7000 in 2007, to 700 in 2017.....Source: WLBT We’ve seen the amount of teacher licenses issued fall from 7000 in 2007, to 700 in 2017.....Source: WLBT
"Historically, we would have 50-60 applicants for a location and that's been greatly reduced," .....Source: WLBT "Historically, we would have 50-60 applicants for a location and that's been greatly reduced," .....Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

While your kids are out of school for the summer, schools are scrambling to fill open positions. As of June 27, there are more than 2,100 openings currently posted on the Mississippi Department of Education's website.

"Forrest County, Amite County, Greenville, Tupelo, The School for Math and Science, McComb," read Mississippi Professional Educators Executive Director Kelly Riley.

Those are just a handful of the districts that have reached out to the Mississippi Professional Educators to get the word out about openings.

"The supply stream in is not meeting the need to match, especially the number of teachers that are retiring," noted Riley.

Pay is often cited as a reason for the shortage. Starting pay for a Mississippi teacher is less than $35,000. But let's look at a bigger district like Madison County. They can afford to have a higher local supplement. Translation: teachers make more than they would in some of the state's other districts. Even still, they've seen the number seeking jobs drop.

"Historically, we would have 50-60 applicants for a location and that's been greatly reduced," explained Madison County Superintendent Dr. Ronnie McGehee.

One way they've worked to create a pipeline of new teachers is to bring former students back as teachers.

"Anything that we can do to encourage our young people to become teachers, actively recruit them at an early age, I think is positive," added McGehee. "And then how you retain them, it's every day. You tell them, thanks for being here. Thanks for being a part of who we are. That works."

That may well be an overlooked part that contributes to the shortage, outside of the pay concerns. The Mississippi Professional Educators says even just the perception that our public school system is failing can have an impact on the environment.

"Teacher morale was at the top of the list of concerns, just between all the paperwork and the testing," added Riley.

The state designates some districts as Geographic Shortage Areas. Teachers there can qualify for incentives like housing assistance or loan repayment programs.

"Unfortunately, the teacher shortage we are facing is not a surprise," added Joyce Helmick, President of the Mississippi Association of Educators. "We’ve known this was coming, and the State of Mississippi has done little to avoid it. We’ve seen the amount of teacher licenses issued fall from 7000 in 2007, to 700 in 2017. We’ve seen educators’ salaries stagnate. We’ve watched as the State raised cut scores for the Praxis test, alleging it would yield more high-quality teachers. The truth is that it has not. It has simply driven qualified educators to begin their careers in neighboring states where they’re better supported professionally, and able to earn more money to support their families. It is more imperative than ever that the people of Mississippi hold their elected officials accountable for supporting public educators and public education."

Copyright 2018 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

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