Teacher salaries in Mississippi should reach national average

Camille Bardon

Should teachers be paid more?

Teachers fuel the minds of our future but still, they are not compensated for their work. Without teachers our country would be unable to succeed as a driving force of innovation and ingenuity.

Most recent data from the 2017-18 academic school year reveals that the average teacher salary in the United States is $60,483. Teacher salaries in Mississippi average $43,107, which is the lowest in the United States.

Most people would associate the low pay for teachers in Mississippi to location and cost of living. I live in Mississippi and I can say that anything below and slightly above $43,000 simply is not enough for the energy and dedication teachers provide.

While Mississippi has the lowest average teacher salaries, Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright is the highest paid state school chief in the country. Wright makes $300,000 a year.

According to the “Clarion Ledger” in Mississippi, almost 13 percent of teachers take a second job outside of the school system to make ends meet.

Many people would argue that teachers get a summer break, but teachers spend their summer by planning for the next school year. Around a month of a teacher’s summer consists of continuing education, training, curriculum planning, and classroom setup. In addition, teachers are paid for their 188 contracted day; they don’t get paid for summer and holidays. They may allow the district to distribute their checks over 12 months.

In June of 2019, Mississippi legislative leaders passed a $1,500 across-the-board pay raise for the state’s teachers and assistants. This may seem positive but, for some teachers the pay raise placed them in a different tax bracket resulting in some teachers earning less than before the raise.

In 1985, the first Mississippi teacher strike happened after a lack of support from Gov. William A. Allain and the Legislature for a raise of $3,500 a year. Due to the number of students affected by the rally, Mississippi state law forbade teachers from striking. This law should not have been passed because it takes away teachers’ first amendment right.

“Red for Ed,” or the red for education movement, has brought teachers together in the hopes that the state would increase their pay. On November 19, 2019, thousands of Indiana teachers rallied at the Statehouse in Indianapolis resulting in nearly half of Indiana’s public schools being closed for the day.

It’s sad that it has come to the point of teachers rallying, but the teachers feel that there is no other way to get the pay that they deserve.