Conference held today to discuss teacher shortage

A teacher shortage has been affecting our state. Today, William Carey University held its first ever teacher shortage conference at the Tradition Campus in Biloxi.

For over five years, there has been about a 30 percent decline in teacher education in the classroom across Mississippi. To help find solutions to this teacher shortage, William Carey University and the Gulfport School District hosted a conference for legislators, teachers, students from the Coast. Gulfport School District Superintendent Glen East said, “We’ve got some of the best minds that signed up today to spend the day all day really talking about what’s causing the shortage, what we need to do to correct it, and how we can do things in the trench to make sure we have a pipeline of great teachers for our state.”

Two of the most prominent problems causing the shortage, the conference attendees learned, are the low pay, averaging only about $45,000 in Mississippi, and the lack of passion with the youth to become educators. “So, you have these students that have these hearts to want to teach, but they also know that it’s a struggle to teach with the pay and all the collegiately of the profession right now across our state and our country.”

The teacher shortage is affecting Mississippi in a variety of ways, such as the 260 plus special education teacher positions left open at the beginning of the school year. William Carey University Executive Vice President Ben Burnett said, “It’s a very large problem. There are districts all across Mississippi who don’t even have all of their positions filled now in November.”

Policy recommendations the conference makes are to provide teachers with $3,000 raises, $3,000 stipends for teachers in critical shortage areas, and establishing an undergraduate grant program for juniors and seniors in educator preparation programs. “We’re going to come away with a lot of action steps from today, but we just want this to be in everybody’s thoughts and minds as we encourage people to become teachers and as we encourage our teachers to remain in the profession and the importance of it.”

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