KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri ranks last in the nation paying starting teaching salaries an annual average salary of roughly $33,000 according to the National Education Association.
A bill filed in the U.S. House of Representatives would raise minimum teacher starting pay to $60,000 a year.
According to the Missouri State Teachers Association half of all teachers often consider leaving the profession. Former substitute teacher Iris Simmons understands why.
“They have such an influence on our children and I don’t understand why we’re so resistant to paying them more money I don’t understand why they are paid such a small amount because its such hard work,” Simmons said.
Minimum teacher pay in Missouri is $25,000 a year under state statute. For this school year only Missouri raised its minimum wage to $38,000. That took $250 million to fund 70% of those increases.
Discussions are underway in Jefferson City whether that funding and mandatory minimum should be continued. Kansas comes in at 32nd nationally at just over $39,100 average starting salaries.
“There is a real shortage of people who are willing to do the paperwork and run through all the hoops that teachers are expected to run through right now for pay that doesn’t match what you could make in business,” Kansas City Federation of Teachers President Jason Roberts said.
The American Teacher Act, supported locally by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, would raise starting teacher pay to $60,000 a year. It calls for federal grants to support states and local school districts raising their pay.
“The Federal Government would have to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in local education in order to make it work,” Roberts said.
Roberts also isn’t sure about monumental changes that might be needed for the Federal minimum, with education usually left up to states. Still he supports the message behind the idea.
“It is bringing the conversation to the national table that we have a national teacher shortage, it is now at crisis level,” Roberts said.
“If you aren’t going to pay them they are going to go somewhere else to earn what they actually deserve. I’m all for it if they bring up the wages and bring in more qualified people,” parent Justin Klimek said.