Raising teacher pay is a first step

Published 12:01 am Sunday, January 28, 2018

America is having a teacher crisis of sorts and our area is not immune to the impact.

Last year the Natchez-Adams School District was cited by the state for employing non-certified teachers in roles throughout the district.

The district has struggled with recruitment efforts over the last few years, school leaders have said.

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It’s no wonder.

Fewer and fewer college students, it seems, are going into education.

In 2007, approximately 4,220 teacher’s licenses were issued in Mississippi. In 2016, the last year for which data is readily available, only 2,515 licenses were issued. That’s approximately a 40-percent reduction in nine years.

Mississippi has long lagged behind other states and certainly national averages on the quality of education we are providing our students.

But apparently, this may get worse before it gets better.

School districts and the state must figure out better ways to make the field more attractive to young people.

Obviously, the age-old way of doing that is to raise the base pay rates. That may very well be needed, but society must go a step further.

Decades ago, teachers were respected, some even revered. Somewhere along the way the respect has been lost, the luster tarnished.

To stop the teacher shortage and begin attracting our best and brightest, we must make the position be one of honor and respect again. Raising their pay levels would be a good place to start.