In New Teach Plus Policy Brief, Mississippi Educators Call on Policymakers to Deliver a Significant Pay Raise for Teachers in This Year’s Legislation

In New Teach Plus Policy Brief, Mississippi Educators Call on Policymakers to Deliver a Significant Pay Raise for Teachers in This Year’s Legislation

Survey of Over 1900 Teachers Prioritizes 15% Increase in Starting Salaries, Additional Increases Every Five Years

February 28, 2022, Jackson, Mississippi—Mississippi’s current starting salary for teachers is one of the lowest in the country and as a result, many educators in the state cannot afford to remain in the classroom and are leaving at alarming rates. In their new policy brief, “Securing Pay Raises That Matter: Recommendations from Teach Plus Mississippi Policy Fellows,” Teach Plus teacher leaders outline specific recommendations for the policymakers who are currently considering two pay raise bills. The recommendations, based on a survey of more than 1,900 teachers in the state, include a 15% raise in starting salaries and an additional pay increase every five years.

“We are encouraged by the legislature’s commitment to improve teacher pay and ensure that educators in our state, who go above and beyond for their students every day, finally start to earn the compensation they deserve. Our state legislative leaders now need to listen to teachers and to pass the teacher pay legislation that will have the greatest impact on building the educator workforce in Mississippi now and in the long term,” said Teach Plus Mississippi Executive Director Sanford Johnson.

In their survey, Teach Plus Mississippi Policy Fellows wanted to gauge which compensation-related policy proposals teachers wanted the legislature to prioritize during the current session. These proposals ranged from providing a $3,000 pay raise for all Mississippi public school teachers to giving teachers the option to contribute to a 401(k) retirement plan. The survey findings are:

  1. Mississippi teachers overwhelmingly prefer an increase in salary over benefits such as increased contributions to their health insurance or retirement contributions.
  2. When it comes to other benefits such as health insurance and retirement plan options, teachers are still prioritizing their immediate financial concerns.

“Teachers are showing up to work feeling tired and defeated because of the stress of not being able to sustain a living barely above the poverty line or restless nights from their second job. When teachers are not at their best, our students suffer. Pay teachers more so that our students will receive a quality education from a teacher that is able to show up to be their best version of themselves,” said Athena Lindsey, a Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow who teaches in South Delta School District and is one of the brief’s co-authors.

The teachers’ recommendations are:

  1. Include both a 15% increase in starting salaries, and the additional increase every 5 years, to the final version of the teacher pay raise legislation.
  2. Listen to teachers when it comes to improving teacher compensation and benefits.
  3. Commit to addressing long-term educational challenges with bold policy solutions.

“The results of the survey made it very clear that teachers are overwhelmingly supporting raises and five-year steps. I hope to see policymakers use this to guide their decisions through the rest of this session and make positive changes for all Mississippi teachers,” said Crystal Jackson, a Teach Plus Policy Fellow who teaches in the Vicksburg-Warren School District and is one of the brief’s co-authors.

For several months now, Teach Plus Mississippi Policy Fellows have been raising their voices and maintaining a steady drumbeat of advocacy about the critical need to improve educator salaries. In November, Teach Plus launched a #RaiseMSTeacherPay campaign on social media to highlight the fact that many Mississippi teachers need to work second, third, and fourth jobs while teaching full time just to make ends meet. Teach Plus teacher leaders also shared their stories in the media and with members of the Senate Education Committee during town hall meetings.

About Teach Plus
The mission of Teach Plus is to empower excellent, experienced, and diverse teachers to take leadership over key policy and practice issues that affect their students’ 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.