Legislators are currently working to find any excuse to avoid funding a permanent raise for teachers and school employees this session. The truth is simple: the funding is available! The only question is whether or not legislators are willing to make teachers and school employees a priority.
In an election year, lawmakers like to brag about the increases to teacher and school employee pay passed in recent years. Still these marginal increases haven’t kept up with neighboring states. Louisiana has continued to fall further behind the Southern Regional Average for teacher pay. Moreover, Office of Group Benefits (OGB) premium increases have outpaced raises passed by the legislature. Last year, teacher and support staff pay was increased by an average of 3%, but OGB increased rates by 4.5%. This is on top of the rising cost of living which impacts educators every time they buy groceries for their families or pay for a tank of gas.
Two weeks down: seven to go!
This week, LFT President Larry Carter testified before the House Appropriations Committee about the importance of passing a significant raise during this session.
His remarks focused on the experiences of Louisiana’s teachers and school employees. Our latest survey results revealed ninety-seven percent of teachers and ninety-eight percent of staff felt that they did not make enough to raise a family. Ninety-one percent of teachers said that the statewide pay raises they received in recent years were less than increases in cost of living and almost eighty percent said they’ve been completely absorbed by the rise in insurance premiums. Eighty-four percent of teachers and two-thirds of staff said they have considered leaving their current position. Thirty-seven percent of teachers and staff are working at least one other job.
The Legislative Session began April 10th. It kicked off with John Bel Edwards’ final State of the State address. One of the first things he mentioned was the importance of passing a $3,000 raise for teachers and $1,500 for school support staff. This is an extra $1,000/$500 more than what is in the MFP that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed in March. Ultimately, the raise for teachers and school employees that is funded in the final legislative budget must match the amount allocated in the final MFP, which is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools.
This year, SCR 2 (Fields) is the legislative instrument for the MFP. The legislature can decide to pass the MFP as it currently stands, or they can vote to return the MFP back to BESE for amendments. The legislature cannot change the MFP, they can only vote yea or nay on SCR 2.
State Superintendent Cade Brumley testified before the House Appropriations Committee last week and the Senate Finance Committee this week to discuss his plan for teacher raises; the plan currently outlined in the MFP. Brumley wants the legislature to pass a $2,000 raise for teachers and $1,000 for support staff. Additionally, he wants the legislature to approve $60 million to give certain teachers a $1,000 stipend. This stipend would go to teachers in certain schools or subjects, or those deemed "high performing," to be determined by the local school board
Teachers and school employees have to speak out for their students. Often, you are their only voice. In this week’s survey we are asking teachers and school employees to tell us about their student’s learning environment. Are your students getting the individualized attention they deserve? Are the standardized tests helping them succeed? Do they have access to safe buildings and the latest technology?
We want to hear from you! You are with your students in school everyday. You know what they need. Help us explain to policy makers what they're missing about student learning.
Are you getting the professional treatment you deserve? Too often, teachers and school employees feel disrespected in their jobs. They're treated like babysitters or expected to sit through numerous meetings where they are lectured on things they’ve already studied extensively, often by people who haven’t worked in a classroom in decades.
Sometimes educators feel respected by their principal and local administration, but disrespected by the school board or politicians in Baton Rouge. Sometimes the respect is missing at all levels. Tell us about your experience.
Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions. When teachers and staff are under-resourced, over-worked and over-stressed, it impacts their students. Policymakers have an obligation to support teachers and school support staff because they are the ones who ensure our children get a quality education. Too often, the working conditions of teachers and support staff are not conducive to learning.
Do you get the time you need to prepare for class and tend to your own needs? Are you getting the professional autonomy you deserve? Does the PD at your school help you become a better educator?
We want to hear from you! Tell us about the working conditions in your school. Your responses on this survey are anonymous and will inform our legislative agenda, policy positions, and political endorsements.