Over the last decade, Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reports that teacher attrition rates for the last six years are over 11%. This is more than the national average of 8%.

While Missouri presently has a strong pension system for its teachers, salaries are so low that individuals are not working in its schools long enough to receive it. Low pay is considered to be the principal reason for the current turnover. For the last 17 years the base pay or starting salary for a teacher has been $25,000. If this had been increased only by the rate of inflation, it would now be about $36,000.

In 2019, school officials presented a proposal to give all teachers a $4,000 pay raise and increase base pay to $32,000. This would have cost Missouri $322 million. This plan also would have established a $75 million equity fund to offer hiring incentives in both hard-to-staff subject areas and underserved regions in the state.

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It was not even taken up by our legislators.

Other benefits for teachers which should be considered are:

* College loan forgiveness

* Provide adequate teaching supplies

* Signing and loyalty bonuses

* Limit what is expected from teachers to teaching and teaching only.

Teaching is an essential profession. Therefore, it is necessary to have competent individuals make it their lifetime occupation. In addition to providing our teachers with adequate compensation and benefits, we should also show the members of this profession the respect they have earned.

JOHN PIEPHO, Cape Girardeau

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