Grim New School Year For Missouri Students

Missouri is in the thick of back to school season, but it’s difficult to find ways in which the Missouri legislature is making life better for students and teachers this upcoming year.

This past year, 25% of Missouri school districts only operated four days a week. Families are worried about providing childcare while working a five-day week, while experts stressed that they do not yet know the academic effects.

After legislators in the 2023 session refused to mandate five-day school weeks or raise teacher pay — which would help with the state’s ongoing teacher shortage — even more Missouri districts moved to four-day weeks for the upcoming school year.

Data from the National Education Association puts Missouri’s average starting salary at $34,052 — dead last in the nation and well below the minimum living wage of $46,944 as determined by the Economic Policy Institute. The numbers barely improve when educators actually stay in schools. Average pay is $52,481, placing the Show Me State 47th nationally.

To compare apples to apples, you can also see that Missouri ranks last when stacked up against the eight surrounding states in both average starting salary and average salary.

Average Starting Salary

23. Illinois
27. Iowa
32. Tennessee
35. Kansas
42. Oklahoma
44. Kentucky
47. Nebraska
48. Arkansas
50. Missouri

Average Teacher Salary

12. Illinois
31. Nebraska
34. Kansas
36. Iowa
38. Oklahoma
40. Kentucky
45. Tennessee
46. Arkansas
47. Missouri

“For decades, America’s educators have been chronically underappreciated and shamefully underpaid,” NEA President Becky Pringle said. “If we want to reverse course and keep qualified teachers in the classroom and caring professionals in schools, then we must increase educator pay across the board and expand access to collective bargaining and union membership for all those working in public education.”

The scarcity of professionals working to provide a brighter future extends beyond teachers to workers like bus drivers, custodians and other essential staff. 

All of this is in addition to constant attacks on the well-being of our students and those educating them. The legislature has banned nearly 300 books, going against Missourians’ steadfast beliefs in freedom of speech. But they also voted against banning toddlers from carrying firearms without adult supervision, going against the wishes of state police. And the government also again inserted itself in people’s personal lives by dictating the medical decisions of trans students and athletes.

A better future for our state starts with our students. Our elected officials are failing Missourians. Follow Progress MO on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok as we hold them accountable. We can and must do better.