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Governor’s Task Force aims to address teacher shortage with raises, additional support

As the Senate Education Committee holds a hearing to discuss teacher pay, Governor Tate Reeves has released a report compiled by the ‘Governor’s Human Capital Task Force’ detailing the steps that state leaders need to take in order to address the teacher shortage in Mississippi. 

The detailed report released by the governor’s office outlines shortages of well qualified teachers at all grade levels for the 2021-22 school year, specifically in mathematics, science, special education and world languages. While noting that their is no “silver bullet” to ending the shortage, the task force recommends that leaders “collaborate to reform and improve teacher compensation, expand the pipeline into the profession, strengthen preparation and support for new and experienced teachers, and more.”

The task force report also states that nearly one in five teachers in the U.S.—and up to 45% of teachers in the South—leave the field before completing their fifth year in the classroom. Teachers cite poor working conditions, lack of support, overwhelming stress, and inadequate pay and benefits as main factors in leaving the profession.

During the Senate Committee hearing, a representative from the Mississippi Department of Education outlined that, despite the pay raise passed by lawmakers earlier this year, compensation for Mississippi teachers remains well below the southeastern average. 

During his remarks at the Neshoba County Fair in late July, Governor Reeves advocated for a series of pay raises that would bring the starting salary for teachers up to the current average. He reiterated support for such a raise in a statement accompanying the task force report. 

“Teachers play a critical role in the long-term success of our state and country, and my administration will be unwavering in its commitment to ensuring they have what’s needed to teach the next generation of leaders,” Governor Reeves said. “First things first, teachers deserve a raise and I’ll do everything in my power to ensure it happens quickly.”

The task force is made up education leaders at several Mississippi universities, State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wight, teachers and representatives from the Department of Employment Security. 

The key recommendations from the full 50-page report can be viewed below: 

  • Improve pathways and preparation for teachers
    • Create more formal teacher residencies to provide future educators with real classroom experience and ensure all pathways into the profession are held to the same high standards.
    • Provide college-tuition breaks or loan forgiveness for future teachers.
    • Develop marketing campaigns to attract students into teaching — showing how they can enter the field and why the profession matters.
    • Build a new system to evaluate and show teacher-preparation program quality in the state’s colleges and universities.
    • Ensure that future teachers gain more experience in real classrooms, incorporate the latest technology, and nurture students’ social and emotional health.
    • Convene all two- and four-year colleges to agree on transferable education courses and establish a path for future teachers that starts in community colleges.
    • Launch an introductory education course for dual enrollment high school students that all Mississippi two- and four-year colleges recognize.
  • Strengthen support for teachers throughout their careers
    • Integrate support programs for new and experienced teachers and high-quality professional development into the licensing system.
    • Build a new teacher license structure that allows advancement, expands leadership opportunities, and offers the potential for higher salaries.
  • Raise teacher compensation to professional levels
    • Increase salaries and benefits to attract the highest-caliber candidates.
    • Develop a new minimum statewide salary structure — with regular cost-of-living raises and incentive pay for teacher-leaders in low socioeconomic school districts.

Watch the Senate hearing below:

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