Mississippi has tried several initiatives over the years to try to attract new teachers, especially to areas that have had chronic difficulties filling classrooms with certified instructors.
None have worked all that well, or the state wouldn’t be experiencing a critical shortage of teachers and the Legislature would not have stopped funding the incentive programs.
A Democratic senator from Jackson, David Blount, has come up with a new twist on an old idea. Rather than subsidizing education majors while they are in college in exchange for a commitment to teach in Mississippi for so many years, Blount’s proposal would help them pay off their student loans once they are teaching: $2,500 after their first year in the classroom, $3,500 after the second and $4,500 after the third. If the new teachers were serving in a critical needs area, an extra $2,000 would be added to the loan-repayment help each year.
The advantage is that this doesn’t put the state in the collection business if beneficiaries leave Mississippi or leave the profession. They only get the assistance as long as they stick with teaching in a Mississippi public school.
The state needs to do something to lure bright college students to the profession. This could be one of those things. It’s worth a try.