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Teacher pay raise much-needed in Mississippi, say educators

“We are never going to recruit the brightest and the best for our classrooms if we do not pay them well,” said one Coast teacher.
Teachers in Mississippi will soon be seeing an increase in salary and in their starting wage...
Teachers in Mississippi will soon be seeing an increase in salary and in their starting wage thanks to a bill that was passed by state lawmakers on Thursday.(WLOX)
Updated: Mar. 19, 2021 at 12:27 PM CDT
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VANCLEAVE, Miss. (WLOX) - Teachers in Mississippi will soon be seeing an increase in salary and in their starting wage thanks to a bill that was passed by state lawmakers on Thursday.

It’s a much-needed pay increase for educators, who often work long hours ensuring students receive the best possible learning experience.

Jackson County School District teacher Shirley Guy has been teaching students for 45 years and said every teacher she knows spends so much extra time dedicated to making their classrooms the best possible environments for their students.

“If we were paid by the hour, there wouldn’t be a need for a pay bump at all,” said the Vancleave High teacher. “The state of Mississippi is very fortunate to have an army of educators who are dedicated to educating the students in Mississippi no matter what they make.”

Now, with the teacher pay raise bill, that dedication is being rewarded.

Assistant teachers and certified teachers with more than three years experience will receive a salary increase of $1,000, while teachers with three or less years of experience will receive a pay raise of $1,100.

“If they could say we are going to do this every year for the next four years, then it would definitely be a step in the right direction,” Guy said. “Maybe not shoot for a percentage pay raise in the next legislative session, but $1,000 a year until we reach a point that we are competitive with other states.”

On top of the rising salaries, the starting pay for new teachers is increasing to $37,000.

Having that higher starting pay is something Guy hopes will persuaded more people to pursue a career in education.

“We are never going to recruit the brightest and the best for our classrooms if we do not pay them well,” Guy said. “They’re just not going to come.”

According to the National Education Association, the average teacher salary in the U.S. for 2018-19 was $62,304. For Mississippi, the average was $45,105, ranking the state 51st in the country regarding teacher pay.

The Southern Regional Education Board reported teachers’ take-home pay is remarkably low overall and doesn’t increase substantially over the course of a teaching career. A first-year teacher earning the average starting salary of $38,420 in southern states takes home only $27,851 after basic taxes and benefit costs, according to the SREB’s teacher compensation dashboard.

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