‘It’s a huge issue:’ Teacher shortage hits Missouri hard
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) - The shortage of teachers in the classroom is hitting hard in Missouri.
“It’s a huge issue,” said Charlie Shields, President of the Missouri Board of Education. “We’re almost at the crisis point. [That’s] one of the reasons we wanted to address this now.”
On Wednesday night, the specially appointed Blue Ribbon Commission made a stop at Osage Trail Middle School in Independence. The commission is touring the state, making a stop in each of Missouri’s congressional districts to talk about the teacher shortage.
Krista Culbertson, an elementary school arts teacher, took the night off to attend the meeting.
“I really love what I do,” said Culbertson. “It’s just very hard. Right now, I’m working on my Education Specialist Degree so I can earn more money. That’s just one way I can do it. And, it’s still not a whole lot.”
Culbertson said one of the biggest drains on teachers from the classroom is pay.
“Teachers shouldn’t have to do a side hustle, you know?” said Culbertson. “Doctors aren’t doing a side hustle. Lawyers aren’t doing a side hustle. That’s their main gig. This is my main gig.”
State education leaders agree.
“I think, long term, we need to figure out how we fund education,” said Shields. “There’s some changes we need in the foundation that will allow us to drive more money to teacher salaries across the state.”
Shields said culture and climate are making an impact, too.
“Being in public education is challenging, so we also have some thoughts,” said Shields. “You have to be able to fix that, create a better environment for the inner schools, access to mental health and things like that.”
Krista said she couldn’t agree more but that, just like any other job, it comes with the good and the bad.
“It takes a lot of time,” said Culbertson. “It takes planning. And, it takes hours away from my family. But, I still do it. I love it. It’s still a valued profession and it’s something you should be proud of.”
The hope is that, eventually, more people other than educators will attend the meetings.
“We want to hear ideas from businesspeople, civic leaders, anyone who has ideas on how to solve the shortage of teachers,” said Shields.
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