About half of Missouri’s teachers leave the profession within the first five years. Missouri’s teacher shortage – and ways to help fix the problem – will be the focus of a series of statewide public engagement meetings beginning this week.

Photo courtesy of Gov. Mike Parson’s Twitter page

“As we moved through showing these business leaders the data around the teacher workforce, it became clear that we needed to be spreading this information far and wide. Missourians really need to understand the problem, to best understand how to move forward, or how that problem impacts us now and how it could impact the future of Missouri,” said Mallory McGowin, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

McGowin said the workforce problem stretches beyond the education community.

“To attract individuals to the teaching profession, and then keep them in the classroom, that is a challenge for all Missourians. We cannot grow students into their full potential, we cannot grow the next generation of Missouri’s workforce, if we do not have high quality teachers. It is an economic development issue. It is a workforce development issue. Investing in our teachers means we’re investing in our students. We need to come together now to address this in our state before this is a crisis that we can no longer manage,” said McGowin.

The Missouri Board of Education and a statewide teacher recruitment and retention commission will hit the road beginning today to explain the workforce struggles and share recommendations to recruit and retain teachers. A meeting will be held in each of Missouri’s eight Congressional districts.

The board approved several recommendations last week developed by the commission. The board will soon be asking the Missouri Legislature to help make some of these changes quickly.

Recommendations include:

•Amending state statute to boost minimum teacher pay in Missouri to at least $38,000 annually and require an annual review of the rate annually
•Prioritizing annual funding for the Career Ladder Program, which rewards teachers for doing extra work
•Creating a fund to help school districts raise teacher pay
•Establishing sustainable funding for Grow Your Own programs, an in-school program designed to recruit high school students to become future teachers

About 8,000 Missouri teachers make less than $35,000 a year, according to the commission.

Other recommendations include:

•Encouraging districts to use team-based teaching models
•Boosting mental health support for school staff
•Fully funding an existing scholarship program for teachers pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree at a Missouri college or university
•Amending the Missouri Constitution and provisions of the Missouri Teacher Tenure Act to allow salary supplements for filling high need positions
•Salary supplements for teachers with National Board Certification

During last week’s state Board of Education meeting, Mark Walker, the chair of the commission, said he thinks the lack of flexibility the board has to fill high need positions was the biggest surprise to business people serving on the commission.

“It’s unbelievably inappropriate in today’s highly competitive marketplace,” he said.

The public engagement meetings will be from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the following locations:

• October 24: Knob Noster Middle School cafeteria, 211 East Wimer Street, Knob Noster
• October 25: Jefferson City Schools Dix Road Education Center, 204 Dix Road, Jefferson City
• November 7: Maplewood Richmond Heights, High School Auditorium, 7500 Lohmeyer Avenue, Maplewood
• November 9: Osage Trail Middle School Cafeteria, 2101 N. Twyman Road, Independence
• November 10: Chillicothe High School, Gary Dickinson Performing Arts Center, 2801 Hornet Road, Chillicothe
• November 15: Parkway Welcome Center, 760 Woods Mill Road, Ballwin
• November 16: Nixa Junior High, 205 North St., Nixa
• November 17: Kay Porter Theatre, 1302 Victory Lane, Poplar Bluff

Meetings are open to the public; meetings will not be livestreamed.

To hear the Show Me Today interview with Mallory McGowin, click below (16:48).

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