• Teachers and Leaders

In recent years, a new problem in a decades-old challenge has emerged: the number of new Mississippi teachers has sharply declined, exacerbating the teacher shortage and threatening the success of public education in Mississippi.

In this investigation, Mississippi First examines the state of Mississippi’s educator pipeline, specifically how the number and diversity of candidates completing educator preparation programs have changed. We then present evidence showing how the rising cost of college attendance and the declining value of teacher salaries may be squeezing aspiring new teachers out of the profession. Finally, we offer a menu of recommendations for policymakers to address these interrelated financial barriers and reverse the alarming downturn in new teachers.

Major Takeaways

Finding #1

After years of relative stability, Mississippi’s pre-service educator pipeline is suddenly drying up—fast.

Finding #2

The growing “pay penalty” for Mississippi teachers—the result of stagnant salaries—may be forcing would-be teachers to move out of state or choose a new profession entirely.

Finding #3

Not only do aspiring Mississippi teachers have lower salaries to look forward to, they also have to pay more for the privilege, due to the skyrocketing cost of college and disappearing teacher-specific financial aid.

Finding #4

Stagnant salaries and sky-high tuition are forcing teachers to accept a lower standard of living—hardly the conditions necessary to reverse the rapidly worsening teacher shortage.

Policy Recommendations

Failing to address the financial viability of the teaching profession for new teachers could further deplete Mississippi’s pre-service educator pipeline in a moment when teachers are desperately needed. Thankfully, there are clear opportunities for policymakers to take decisive action.

Recommendation One

Raise teachers’ standards of living and the overall prestige of the teaching profession in Mississippi by providing for an across-the-board raise in teacher salaries of at least $3,000.

Recommendation Two

Incentivize current and aspiring teachers to teach where they are most needed by establishing a $3,000 stipend for all teachers in critical shortage areas.

Recommendation Three

Attract undergraduates into the educator pipeline by establishing an undergraduate grant program for juniors and seniors in educator preparation programs. Incentivize these individuals to teach in critical shortage areas by offering loan repayment assistance.


Toren Ballard

Director of K-12 Policy

Toren Ballard is the Director of K-12 Policy at Mississippi First. Nothing in the Pipes is his first major report published at Mississippi First. Toren was responsible for the 2020 release of the Public Perception of Charter Schools in Mississippi.

Rachel Canter

Executive Director

Rachel Canter is the Executive Director of Mississippi First and author of additional Mississippi First reports, including Leaving Last in Line, the State of Pre-K series, and Public Perception of Public Charter Schools (2019). Rachel founded Mississippi First in 2008.