Mississippi teachers insufficient pay creates bigger issues

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Photo Courtesy of state-capitals.org

Our state does not rank high in anything with the exception of the amount of churches per capita and how low it pays its teachers. As of 2017, Mississippi pays teachers lower than every state except Oklahoma.

As of 2019, however, the average public high school teacher salary in Mississippi has raised from 2017’s $43,950 to the current $50,097. This increase is remarkable, but is still not enough, seeing as the highest high school teacher salary in the United States sits at $79,637 in the state of New York.

Teachers in all states deserve a raise, but Mississippi teachers need it most.

Mississippi teachers go into their jobs knowing that they will be among the lowest paid teachers in the nation, but for some reason, they still take the job.  The reasons for this could vary, but it is an admirable decision nonetheless.

The underpayment of teachers could be the onset of a totally new set of problems.  While the ability of some teachers to continue to teach in spite of the low payment is remarkable, it is not to be expected. It is reasonable to believe that people will turn away from careers in education due to the extremely low pay rates. If this persists, there could be a horrible problem for Mississippi as a whole.

Teachers in Mississippi need better pay rates, but they can do little to nothing about it. In 1985 there were walkouts by teachers, which raised the salaries but caused Mississippi legislatures to enact a law that made it illegal for Mississippi Educators to strike. This in and of itself is an attack on teachers’ first amendment rights, but I digress.

Teachers are very important to our society as they always have been, but it is important that we remember that teachers are people too. They have their own personal lives and families, which are hard to support on $43,950 a year. If teachers were paid more, there would be a larger incentive for people to go into the teaching field.

The unequal funding of schools goes hand in hand with the underpayment of teachers in the schools. Teachers have the most significant job in regard to raising the next generation of Mississippians (and everywhere else in the nation). It is important that we recognize this because, without teachers, we would have no doctors or leaders of the next generation.

The issue has deep roots that need to be addressed, and that is obvious. Mississippi ranks very low in a lot of categories, and to say that is painful for me considering I have lived here my entire life.  This is my home, and I love it deeply, but it is a mess right now, and it needs to be cleaned up, not just swept under the rug for the next generation to fix. That will never work, and it hasn’t worked ever in the course of Mississippi history.

Mississippi is in a dire need of a paradigm shift in regard to how teachers are seen. They aren’t just boring people who only wish to fill children with useless knowledge; rather, they are the foundation on which the next generation will be built. It is about time that we stop building the next generation upon sand foundations. The only way to fix this is to pay our teachers what they deserve; if we do that, perhaps Mississippi will rise to the top.