The Mississippi Legislature has taken two small steps to bolster public education in our state.
In the current session, legislators agreed to increase funding by $10 million over the current year for local school districts under the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula.
That is still $255 million short of the funding required for the legislature to comply with state law, but it is better than the no increase proposed by the governor and the Republican leadership in both houses.
Legislators also agreed to give Mississippi public school teachers a $1,500 salary increase in the coming school year. Mississippi teachers currently earn the second-lowest salary in the nation, an average of $42,000. The current average starting salary in Mississippi is $30,900.
The national average for teacher pay is $56,383. The average in states that border Mississippi is $48,563.
Most everyone agrees that the state is having trouble attracting sufficient numbers of talented students to the teaching profession because the pay is considered low compared to other fields of endeavor.
The legislature’s actions this year won’t go a long way toward moving Mississippi out of the cellar dwellers in national rankings of state educational systems. But it’s a start.