The state legislature has finally fully funded the school foundation formula after years of underfunding by hundreds of millions of dollars. However, expectations of Missouri schools, teachers and students continue to rise. To account for lost state revenues, local taxpayers have increased their percentage of funding for schools. The state must work to close the funding gap for K-12 transportation, while maintaining full funding of the formula. “Full Funding for Education” must include the state meeting its obligation to pay the legally required reimbursement for transportation costs. MSTA also supports increased funding for early childhood education, parenting programs and family literacy programs.
The average teacher salary in Missouri is far below the national average and compared to other states, the average beginning teacher salary is even lower. These inadequately paid professionals are expected to deliver student performance results that are above average. While states surrounding Missouri continue to increase teacher pay, Missouri falls further and further behind national trends in teacher compensation.
Many legislators and state leaders say that they want to attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession, but fail to provide adequate funding to address teacher recruitment and retention problems across Missouri.
According to the 2019 MSTA State of the Education Profession Survey results, over 82 percent of teachers know a teacher that has left in the last three years. The main reason teachers have left includes a lack of support and pay, disrespect, student behavior and classroom support. In order to recruit and retain quality teachers; better pay, less paperwork and increased support from all stakeholders must be addressed.
Missouri teachers feel safe in their classrooms according to the 2019 MSTA School Safety Survey, but an alarming number of teachers have witnessed a form of violence directed toward themselves or another educator. New school safety measures must include not only school infrastructure, but also the behaviors and response to behaviors that occur in the classroom.
A secure and stable defined-benefit retirement program is vital to recruiting and retaining highly qualified and effective educators. Actuarially sound improvements to the system continue to strengthen the Missouri public educators’ financial futures. Transitioning work after retirement from a limit on the number of hours worked to an earnings limit for Public School Retirement System (PSRS) will further simplify burdensome requirements on employees and districts.
The single biggest factor in the success of students is the teacher. MSTA believes that teacher input is vital to the continued success of our students. Local districts need to have the freedom to meet the needs of their communities without control by the state or federal education departments.
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