Missouri is Dead Last in Starting Teacher Pay
And, 49th in rural teacher pay...
Yes, while sitting on two billion in surplus funds, Missouri is dead last in starting teacher pay and 49th in rural teacher pay, just in front of Arkansas teachers. This did not come as a surprise to me, or any rural teacher in Missouri (or Arkansas for that matter.)
You know this has been my platform for years…YEARS. I have been screaming this from the bean and corn fields of Northwest Missouri—pay the teachers! — to no avail. Not only has the Missouri GOP supermajority not addressed the pay issue, they’ve hatched a scheme to fund private religious schools with vouchers.
Vouchers defund all public schools, but especially rural schools. We have no school choice in rural areas—our public schools lose even more funding as revenue meant for public schools is siphoned to private schools that do not exist in rural areas.
Thirty percent of Missouri schools are now on a 4-day week.
A band-aid for the low pay in rural schools has been going to a 4-day week to recruit and retain teachers. Teachers could work a side hustle or just be a little more content with extra time off to plan. But, it’s not much of a recruitment tool when so many of the schools in rural areas run a 4-day week. What’s the next carrot to underpaid rural teachers? 3-day weeks? Where does it stop?
I just talked to a parent from a school district that fell to a 4-day week this year, and she said that there are few opportunities to learn on the extra day off. There is no bus service to the school her child would attend each Monday and school only runs 1/2 day. Some parents can get this half day at no cost, but this parent didn’t qualify — her cost would be around $80 per week.
She said it fills her with guilt, but she transitioned to work from home on Mondays and she reports that her kids watch a lot of TV and play on their tablets while she works. She is in a no-win situation as she can’t afford a sitter and can’t afford to take Mondays off. That is the position that rural Missouri parents are faced with. The 4-day school week has consequences.
From the Missouri MNEA President:
“Our rural students are probably the ones that are struggling the most and are probably bearing the brunt the most of just not funding schools the way we should be in the state. That has to change. And it has to be sustained. It has to be organized. And it has to be something that districts can count on.”
We can and must do better for rural students and teachers.