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The Time is Now: Mississippi Educators Call on State to Raise Teacher Pay

November 11, 2021

New Campaign from Teach Plus Focuses on Highlighting Pay Inequities for Teachers in the State 

Jackson, MS—Mississippi’s educators are speaking up. Many teachers in the Magnolia State earn such low salaries that they must take on additional jobs just to make ends meet. To emphasize the urgency of this issue, Teach Plus Mississippi is launching a #RaiseMSTeacherPay campaign ahead of the upcoming legislative session, with teachers sharing stories of second, third, and fourth jobs they work while teaching full time and what this means for their ability to dedicate themselves to their students and the profession.

“Year in and year out, Mississippi teachers in every district and every grade have given their all to help students succeed—particularly amid the ongoing pandemic. And yet they are unfairly paid at the lowest level in the entire country,” said Teach Plus Mississippi Executive Director Sanford Johnson. “Today, we are calling on state legislative leaders to address this urgent matter and take action to ensure that teachers, who are entrusted with our students’ future, finally start to earn the compensation that they deserve.”

“This is my eighth year as a special education teacher and my seventh as a waitress and bartender. I routinely grade papers while waiting for the dinner rush on weeknights, write lesson plans while waiting for golfers to come in from the course and spend countless nights, after working both jobs, finding resources for my students,” said Crystal Jackson, 3rd grade special education teacher and Teach Plus Mississippi Policy Fellow. 

Mississippi’s current starting salary of $37,000 is among the lowest in the country. A teacher who started at that salary would have to teach for 25 years before they reach $50,000 within the state’s current salary schedule. A new teacher with a PhD would have to work 13 years to reach $50,000. Mississippi’s low pay, combined with the rising cost of attending and completing college, is one of the most significant factors in the state’s teacher shortage. Research shows that a pay raise of at least $3,000 is necessary to give teachers a living wage. In March 2021, Governor Tate Reeves signed legislation that will give teachers an annual pay raise of up to $1,100.

“Teacher pay raise has been a topic for decades. With fewer teachers entering and more teachers leaving the profession, the time to raise teacher compensation is now,” said Alison Rausch, middle school special education teacher and Teach Plus Mississippi Senior Policy Fellow.

About Teach Plus
Teach Plus is dedicated to the mission of empowering excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that advance equity, opportunity, and student success. Since 2009, Teach Plus has developed thousands of teacher leaders across the country to exercise their leadership in shaping education policy and improving teaching and learning, to create an education system driven by access and excellence for all. teachplus.org