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Districts are losing young teachers

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Districts are losing young teachers
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Lakiea Johnson, teacher and cheer coach at Murrah High School
Lakiea Johnson

Teachers with only a few years of experience are switching jobs at a higher rate than more experienced educators. MPB's Ashley Norwood reports.

Teachers who have been in the classroom for less than 10 years are switching jobs at three times the rate of teachers with 10 to 20 years of experience. That is according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

LaKiea Johnson is a 10th grade English teacher and cheer coach at Murrah High School in Jackson. She says low pay could be behind young teachers chasing higher salaries in other districts.

"Thirty-six thousand dollars is not enough to cover the workload that teachers have to put on every single day. Like it's really disheartening to know that we get paid such a little amount of money when we do so much for kids in the community," said Johnson.

Mississippi teacher pay lags behind every state but one, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That makes it difficult to retain teachers. Next school year, Johnson will be teaching in Louisiana at a school district she says will pay more.

Shaypierre Jones is a 12th grade Government and Economics teacher at M.S. Palmer High School in Quitman County. It's the same high school he graduated from in 2008. He says teacher salaries are significantly less in poor and critical needs districts and retaining teachers is a huge issue. But, he says being a positive role model for students in his home county is worth more than the money.

"They need a positive male influence, other than what they are used to seeing in the hometown. Not all males that are young smoke, drink, club and all that and are just sitting around doing nothing. It's more to life than that," said Jones.

In 2018, the average starting salary for a teacher in Mississippi is almost $35,000. Ashley Norwood, MPB News.