Mississippi teacher pay still lags behind most other states - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi teacher pay still lags behind most other states

Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT
Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT
Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT
Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT
Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota. Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

You've likely seen the images from West Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona, and Oklahoma in recent weeks of teachers staging walkouts and strikes. It's all in the name of higher pay and better school funding, but you may be surprised what's allowed here in Mississippi.

READ MORE: Arizona teachers vow to end strike if funding plan passes

"Educators are overworked and underpaid," said Dr. Akemi Stout at a State Capitol rally.

That same phrase comes up every time lawmakers are back in town for the legislative session. 

"Teachers right now," noted Dr. Stout. "They're fed up. They're fed up. They're really fed up."

Governor Bryant signed a teacher pay raise into law in 2014, but even still, Mississippi's pay is lagging behind all but South Dakota.

The National Education Association lists the average salary of a Mississippi teacher at $42,744. The most recent report from State Superintendent raises that average to $44,659.

"You don't want to say that word that begins with an s and ends with an e and has an "ike" to it," added Stout. "You don't want to say that, but a lot of teachers across the nation have gone there."

Dr. Akemi Stout is the President of the Jackson Federation of Teachers. They can't invoke a strike, but can inform their members of their rights. But that's the sticking point.

A strike is technically illegal here.

Mississippi teachers did strike back in 1985. The pressure on lawmakers got them the raise they wanted, but the legislature turned around and passed a law banning teachers from future strikes.

"That doesn't help us now," explained Stout.

Folks seem on board with finding more money for the state's teachers.

"Mississippi teachers are underpaid," said former teacher Charles Richardson. "They're well underpaid. I would appreciate it if they could get a raise."

"In order to keep 'em, you've got to pay them," added Destiny Welch. "Cause if not, they're going to go elsewhere."

The Parents' Campaign says it's not just pay but the overall lack of education funding that's pushing people out of the teaching field. 

"We are demanding more and more and more of teachers, but as a state we are refusing to provide them the resources they need to do the things we're asking them to do," noted The Parents' Campaign Executive Director Nancy Loome.

It should be noted that strikes are technically illegal in some of these other states that have done so. It just took enough organization to say, what will happen if mass numbers of teachers walkout?

There is nothing in Mississippi's state law that would prevent rallies or community meetings of some sort. That has happened in the past when teachers rallied at the Capitol on their day off for pay raises.

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