Gazebo Gazette

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves today released a task force report calling for Mississippi leaders to take action to address the state’s teacher shortages and bolster the state’s workforce and economic future.

The 50-page report from the Mississippi Governor’s Human Capital Task Force details how Mississippi leaders — from the governor’s office to the legislature, state education board, colleges and K-12 school systems — should collaborate to reform and improve teacher compensation, expand the pipeline into the profession, strengthen preparation and support for new and experienced teachers, and more.

“Teachers play a critical role in the long-term success of our state and country, and my administration will be unwavering in its commitment to ensuring they have what’s needed to teach the next generation of leaders,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “First things first, teachers deserve a raise and I’ll do everything in my power to ensure it happens quickly.”

Convened at the governor’s request by the nonpartisan Southern Regional Education Board, the task force includes teachers, local school superintendents, education professors and deans, a university president, state Board of Education members, State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright and other Mississippi Department of Education representatives, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Community College Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

Among the task force’s key recommendations from the report:

  • Improve pathways and preparation for teachers
    • Create more formal teacher residencies to provide future educators with real classroom experience and ensure all pathways into the profession are held to the same high standards.
    • Provide college-tuition breaks or loan forgiveness for future teachers.
    • Develop marketing campaigns to attract students into teaching — showing how they can enter the field and why the profession matters.
    • Build a new system to evaluate and show teacher-preparation program quality in the state’s colleges and universities.
    • Ensure that future teachers gain more experience in real classrooms, incorporate the latest technology, and nurture students’ social and emotional health.
    • Convene all two- and four-year colleges to agree on transferable education courses and establish a path for future teachers that starts in community colleges.
    • Launch an introductory education course for dual enrollment high school students that all Mississippi two- and four-year colleges recognize.
  • Strengthen support for teachers throughout their careers
    • Integrate support programs for new and experienced teachers and high-quality professional development into the licensing system.
    • Build a new teacher license structure that allows advancement, expands leadership opportunities, and offers the potential for higher salaries.
  • Raise teacher compensation to professional levels
    • Increase salaries and benefits to attract the highest-caliber candidates.
    • Develop a new minimum statewide salary structure — with regular cost-of-living raises and incentive pay for teacher-leaders in low socioeconomic school districts.

The task force also urged Mississippi to begin work on a statewide longitudinal data system to monitor student progress from early childhood into the workforce, while ensuring students’ privacy.

The state reports shortages of well qualified teachers at all grade levels for the 2021-22 school year, specifically in mathematics, science, special education and world languages.

Nearly one in five teachers in the U.S.—and up to 45% of teachers in the South—leave the field before completing their fifth year in the classroom, according to the task force report. Teachers cite poor working conditions, lack of support, overwhelming stress, and inadequate pay and benefits as main factors in leaving the profession.

Elevating the teaching profession and adding more well-qualified teachers also will help the state meet its overall education and workforce goals, the task force found.  “It is crucial that the teacher shortage crisis is mitigated to give the next generation of the Mississippi workforce a fighting chance,” the report says.

The Mississippi Governor’s Education Human Capital Task Force

  • Tate Reeves, Governor
  • Dr. Richard Blackbourn, former Dean of Education, Mississippi State University
  • Dr. Ben Burnett, Dean of Education, William Carey University
  • Dr. Debra Burson, Bureau Director, Educator Preparation, Mississippi Department of Education
  • Kelly Butler, Chief Executive Officer, Barksdale Reading Institute
  • Glen East, Superintendent of Education, Gulfport School District
  • Dr. Karen Elam, Member, Mississippi State Board of Education
  • LaJeremy Hughes, Elementary Teacher, Della Davidson Elementary, Oxford School District
  • Dr. Teresa Jayroe, Dean of Education, Mississippi State University
  • Audra Love Dean, Assistant Executive Director for Academic and Student Affairs, Mississippi Community College Board
  • Heather Morrison, Director, P-20 Partnerships, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning
  • Dr. Cory Murphy, Executive Director, Teaching and Leading, Mississippi Department of Education
  • Dr. Felecia Nave, President, Alcorn State University
  • Dr. David Rock, Dean, School of Education, University of Mississippi
  • Robin Stewart, Director, Office of Job Connections, Mississippi Department of Employment Security
  • Sara Stygles, Lead Teacher, Oak Grove Middle School, Lamar County School District
  • Lillie Bryant Sweazy, Secondary Teacher, Natchez High School, Natchez-Adams School District
  • Jackie Turner, Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Employment Security
  • Dr. Carey Wright, State Superintendent of Education