Teachers Getting Their Biggest Raises in Decades in Some States!

NJ Teacher Salaries are Highest in Margate, Ventnor, Brigantine & Ocean  City. - Downbeach BUZZ

Dear Commons Community,

Teachers are seeing significant salary increases in a number of states. After teacher shortages that saw classrooms led by police officers, the National Guard and even a governor, a small but growing number of states are approving major pay raises for teachers.

In some states, especially those that rank low on the pay scale, the salary boost is the largest statewide salary increase for educators in decades.

On March 1, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico signed a bill that her office said would increase base salary levels by an average of 20 percent. Later that month, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida announced the state would funnel $800 million into the state’s budget to raise the starting salary for teachers to $47,000. And shortly afterward, Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi signed off on the largest pay raise for the state’s teachers in decades: an average increase of $5,100 that will raise salaries by more than 10 percent.

Georgia lawmakers have approved a spending plan that would give its teachers, and other education workers, a $2,000 bonus. And last week, Alabama lawmakers agreed to give its teachers pay raises ranging from 4 percent to nearly 21 percent, depending on experience.

It is the first time teachers in Alabama have seen a pay raise of this scale since 1983, according to the Alabama Education Association.  As reported by The New York Times.

“The No. 1 sentiment has been: It’s about time, and it’s very much appreciated,” Amy Marlowe, the association’s executive director, said. “They also were in disbelief, I think, for about a week. We heard from a large number of teachers who were just contacting us making sure that they heard it correctly, and it wasn’t some kind of joke.”

The pay raises are good news for teachers, and strategic moves for politicians. They may encourage teachers to stay put as school labor shortages persist in some school districts. The raises could assuage teachers over labor concerns, with teachers having gone on strike in cities such as Sacramento and Minneapolis. And just around the corner are midterm elections, where education is bound to be a major issue.

“There are various things a state can do to attract more people to the profession, and keep people in who are already there,” Thomas Bailey, an economist and the president of Teachers College at Columbia University, said. “Those changes are long overdue.”

But, Dr. Bailey said, the pay bumps are not large enough to significantly change the standard of living for any teacher.

“It may help, but I don’t know how much this will help,” he said. “I don’t think this will solve the problem.”

When adjusted for inflation, the national average salary for teachers has only somewhat increased over the past decade, according to the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union.

Other economists believe that these raises should be aimed toward certain hard-to-fill teaching positions.

For Suzanne Smith, a math and social studies teacher in Grenada, Miss., the $5,100 salary jump has not sunk in yet — it is the largest one she has seen in the more than three decades she has spent in this field. The average salary for a Mississippi schoolteacher is $46,843, the lowest in the nation, according to the National Education Association.

“We’re never going to think we’re paid enough because we always think we deserve more than we get,” she said.

Throughout Ms. Smith’s entire teaching tenure, she said, she and other teachers in her district have worked several jobs to supplement their income. She has worked at a day care center, hotels and a sporting goods store.

“Very few teachers in Mississippi can exist on just the salary itself,” she added.

For Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, another labor union, raising teacher salaries feels vindicating for organizations that have been asking for this for years.

“Let me just say this: It’s never too late,” she said, adding, “People don’t go into teaching to become rich, but they should be able to raise their kids on a decent salary.”

Teachers deserve decent salaries and as Weingarten says: “It’s never too late!”


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