Today, Mississippi First released their newest report titled Nothing in the Pipes: Educator Crisis in Mississippi. In recent years, a new problem in a decades-old challenge has emerged: the number of new Mississippi teachers has sharply declined, exacerbating the teacher shortage and threatening the success of public education in Mississippi. This new report discusses how the rising cost of college attendance and the declining value of teacher salaries may be squeezing aspiring new teachers out of the pipeline. To better understand Mississippi’s educator pipeline, the report draws on a variety of data spanning K-12 education, colleges and universities, and the economy at large.
“The teaching profession in Mississippi is in crisis. Without a steady supply of new teachers, the statewide teacher shortage will get worse, especially for our students who need effective educators the most,” stated Rachel Canter, Executive Director of Mississippi First.
Toren Ballard, the Director of K-12 Policy and the report’s co-author and primary researcher, added, “The in-state pipeline of new teachers has shrunk by one-third in just four years. The pipeline of out-of-state teachers basically doesn’t exist anymore. Everyone knows that there is a shortage of teachers in Mississippi, but I don’t think people realize the extent to which this problem is picking up steam.”
The high-level findings include the following:
- After years of relative stability, Mississippi’s pre-service educator pipeline is suddenly drying up—fast.
- The growing “pay penalty” for Mississippi teachers—the result of stagnant salaries—may be forcing would-be teachers to move out of state or choose a new profession entirely.
- Not only do aspiring Mississippi teachers have lower salaries to look forward to, they also have to pay more for the privilege, due to the skyrocketing cost of college and disappearing teacher-specific financial aid.
- Stagnant salaries and sky-high tuition are forcing teachers to accept a lower standard of living, hardly the conditions necessary to reverse the rapidly worsening teacher shortage.
To address the crisis, Mississippi First provides three recommendations:
- Raise teachers’ standards of living and the overall prestige of the teaching profession in Mississippi by providing for an across-the-board raise in teacher salaries of at least $3,000.
- Incentivize current and aspiring teachers to teach where they are most needed by establishing a $3,000 stipend for all teachers in critical shortage areas.
- Attract undergraduates into the educator pipeline by establishing an undergraduate grant program for juniors and seniors in educator preparation programs. Incentivize these individuals to teach in critical shortage areas by offering loan repayment assistance.
The entire report can be found on the Mississippi First website, mississippifirst.org.