At January’s State Board of Education meeting, assistant commissioner Paul Katnik presented information on the teacher workforce. The report discusses attributing factors and plans to address teacher shortages in Missouri and nationwide. One factor is that fewer people are earning teaching certificates, while demand for teachers will increase with higher student enrollment numbers. Teacher retention rates add to the problem, as more than 30 percent of Missouri teachers have 0-5 years of experience.
Teacher salaries, school climates, the level of autonomy afforded and leadership are all listed as challenges affecting teacher recruitment and retention at the national level.
According to the report, Missouri ranks 49th nationally in average starting teacher salary ($31,842) and is 39th in average teacher salary ($48,925).
“I am very encouraged that DESE and the State Board of Education are shining a spotlight on important issues surrounding teacher recruitment and retention. Attracting and retaining good teachers starts with providing adequate salaries, which Missouri does not,” said Bruce Moe, Executive Director of the Missouri State Teachers Association. “But it doesn’t stop there. Working conditions, professional respect, administrative support, student behavior and an overemphasis on high-stakes testing are contributing factors in this emerging crisis. The only way forward is for school boards, administrators, parents, teachers and the state to work together.”