Teacher Pay Raise to Be Hot Topic This Session

By: Mike Biggs

House Speaker Phillip Gunn shocked the political establishment a couple of weeks ago when he publically stated that he supported giving a pay raise to Mississippi teachers during this legislative session. “I would like to look at a teacher pay raise. That is a House position. We see the need and importance of that, said Gunn.” Gunn has served several years as a school board member for the Clinton Public Schools.

The move might put the House leader at odds with fellow Republicans Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, both of whom have said they more favor moving to a merit-pay system of raises for teachers instead of across the board. Rep. Tom Miles, a Democrat from Morton takes issue with the notion of a merit pay proposal. “I hear the argument about Merit Pay a lot. I personally could support Merit Pay if it was done fairly in away to reward teachers, but first we need to give our teachers Adequate. We aren’t even paying the teachers adequately so it’s really hard to discuss paying them on Merits if they aren’t paid adequately.”

While many specifics are not yet known, momentum has certainly been building around the idea. The Mississippi Association of Educators and other education advocates are pushing for a teacher pay raise for 2014 and several legislators are taking a position as well. Rep. Karl Gibbs (D) – West Point says he “fully supports pay raises for our teachers”.

If the recent teacher pay raises in neighboring state’s can provide a glimpse of how the Mississippi legislature may act, then look for the Louisiana model to be most likely. Gov. Bobby Jindal tasked his Republican leadership with finding room in the budget to include funds for an across the board pay hike for teachers. Legislative leaders shifted some $70 million dollars into the education budget mandating that half of that went specifically to teacher pay increases.

Republicans have long insisted that any talk of pay increases remain in line with continued revenue growth. “Mississippi’s leadership, Republican & Democrat, recognizes that putting more money in the classroom is imperative to achieving the long-term goal of developing an enviable educational system, say’s Rep. Brad Mayo, a Republican from Oxford. He went on to say “Revenues are finally getting to a point where we can prudently discuss pay raises and fully-funding the classroom supply fund.”

A grassroots group called Pay Raises for Mississippi Teachers launched it’s facebook page yesterday morning and in a 24 hour time period has over 7,000 likes. That translates into a lot of advocates who will be pushing the legislature finally give our teachers a much deserved pay increase. Mississippi teachers are among the lowest-paid in the nation, and they have not had an across-the-board raise since 2007.

21 thoughts on “Teacher Pay Raise to Be Hot Topic This Session


    • That’s opinion brought to you from someone who obviously didn’t pay attention in school!

    • Teachers would love to have any kind of raise. I have been teaching for 15 years. In the last 10 years, teacher salaries have declined when you compare them to a modest inflation rate of 3%.. There are step increases for years of experience(approx $500 per year). So a new teacher makes $30900/yr; with 10 years experience they make $35, 850/yr. When you adjust $30900 for inflation over that same 10 year period, it would take $40, 317 to worth the same amount. So in actuality teachers get pay decreases each year that this issue is ignored by leaders. Compound teacher salary decreases, reduction in retirement benefits, increase in years to be eligible for retirement, increases in demands from congressmen, increase in medical insurance costs, etc….. I love my state, and I understand that everyone wants/deserves a piece of the pie; however, if you do your research(objectively) you will see the need. Over the same ten year period Minimum wage workers received a 40% increase from 5.15 to 7.25/hr. Also military got an avg wage increase of 33% not including step increases for yesrs of service over this 10 year period. I know these are different jobs but I am a 20 year military officer/veteran and I worked for mininum wage to put myself through college…..none of these are any more importsnt than teaching. Do what’s right.

      • MS being one employer should address raises for all state employees. A hungry, abused, unhealthy, you name it child can’t learn either, Address the entire situation. Don’t balance the budget on the backs of one to give to the other. Our state workers receive over $9.000 less than their counterparts in the four surrounding states and do the same work…It has been eight (8) years since the last raise. They aren’t a commodity to be used only in times of Katrina and other natiral diasters.

        Let’s take a look at the facts about Mississippi’s state employees:

        • Average service time is 9.8 years • 62% of employees have served 10 years or less • Average age is 44.5 years • 61% are female and 39% are male • Racial makeup is approximately 51% African American, 47.5% Caucasian and 1.5% all other races • Average Salary of our state employees is $34,506 • 62% of our employees EARN LESS than the average salary • The average annual salary for Mississippi’s four adjoining states is $43,614 • 14% makes between $14,000 – $19,999: 35% makes between $20,000 – $29,000: 24% makes between $30,000 – $39,000 • FYI: In the 2013 legislative session $37m in raises were given but only to a select few. 200 workers received at least a $17,000 increase (Clarion Ledger, Sunday, May 26, 2013). For Rep. Frierson to say that “the money isn’t there is like saying that there is no S in MiSSiSSippi. • The population of Mississippi has increased 4.5% over the last decade • State employment has decreased over the decade • More than 62% of the separations from the state workforce have been resignations • During the past 5 years, 67% of those who resigned had been employed 5 years or less • Resignations from FY 2009 to 2013: 32% were 21-30 years of age; 30% were 31-40; 20% were 41-50 and 18% were over 50 • Within 5 years, nearly 1/3 of our workforce will be eligible to retire

        Retaining employees is important to ensuring a quality workforce for the state of Mississippi. With an average service time of approximately 10 years and a rapidly growing retirement age group, we must identify career paths and promote workforce development.

        **MSPB—overview of the State Workforce under the purview of the Mississippi State Personnel Board. Presented to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, September 16, 2013: Deanne Mosley: Executive Director

  2. Teachers are well overdue for a raise. However, I would like to address another issue–starting date for schools. I DO NOT think the Legislature should set the start date for school districts. That is the job of the local school board. We have enough other hurdles to jump through! Teachers now have much- breaks now to help squelch burnout. Please reconsider recinding the law regulating the start date for schools.

  3. I don’t think that just the teachers need a raise. If you can’t give a raise to every State employee, then nobody should get one.

    • How many state employees are there? Where will they get this money to give all 150,000 (just throwing a number out there) people a raise. Furthermore, teachers and state employees are not the same thing. So why are you tying their raises together. That’s like saying the mayor of Biloxi should receive the same pay as the mayor of Tchula. They just don’t compare.

      • I work for the State and my agency hasn’t had a raise in 7 years, and I’m not saying that teachers don’t need a raise. Just saying that a teacher is no better than I am and I need a raise too. I have a family member that is a teacher and she has 3 yes. experience

        • Sorry, pushed the wrong button. She makes more money than I do and I have 21 yrs. experience in my field.

          • Do you have a 4+ year degreein your field? Student loans to pay back due to havingthat degree? Spend your personal moneyin order to do your job effectively? Spend moneyyearly to attend collegeor workshops just to remaincertified? I am less than two years away from a doctorate degreeand barely crack the 40k mark. How many other professions get paid that little with that kind of education? Nurse practioners? Lawyers? State employees deserve a raise too, but comparing jobs is like applesand oranges. I would like to know that if I take time, money, and effort to GET a doctorate degree, I would be properly compensated… not making LESS THAN 50K pee year!

  4. I don’t understand how anyone can say that teachers shouldn’t get a raise. My daughter is a teacher that loves her job more than anything, however she has not been given a raise for a very long time yet all her taxes and health care have gone up. She is making less now than she did 3 years ago so her father and I have to help her get supplies and much needed things so she can do her job. I think the kids that she teaches are worth it, and her and many others need to at least get adequate pay for teaching kids.

  5. I think the world should have a true glimpse inside running a classroom. I am in my 3rd year of teaching, and I love teaching, but there is so much more to it than going in at 7 and leaving at 3. It isn’t like other jobs. A pay raise is a definite must if I am to stay in this field. I pay my bills, fund into my retirement, insurance, etc. like others that work, however, I buy school supplies for myself as well as my students. I teach science, and any activities we do, I supply the materials for about 90% of the procedures. I give to organizations, buy chances, tshirts, go to games, have extra snacks for hungry kids…you name it, I do it. And this is on top of surviving for myself. I have no savings because I am not paid enough to do all the above and save. Being a teacher doesn’t end at the day. I’m not paid for spending hours on work after school or for decorating prom or chaperoning trips or dances. And on top of it, those in power who have never been behind the podium so to speak dictate how I should run my class. A pay raise is in order. You come and teach 25 students the same lesson with different ability levels, learning styles, backgrounds and try to get the same point across. Then tell me it’s rediculous to raise my pay, of which I make below the poverty line in MS.

    • Well said!! I’m a kindergarten teacher and agree 100% with everything you said!!

    • I agree with everything you have said. I am not a Mississippi teacher, but I grew up in MS and now teach in another Southeastern state where the pay is not much better. I also have family who teach in MS so this issue is particularly close to me. You make a very valid point–all of the people who say that a pay raise isn’t needed have never worked in a classroom. These are the same people who believe that teachers get the entire summer off to take vacations and lie around the pool all day. It’s true the day doesn’t end when the buses leave. Not only are there extra curricular activities that are mandatory parts of the job, there are office hours to help struggling students, not to mention the amount of work that must be done at night to prepare for the next day. I absolutely love my job and I know that I certainly did not choose it because of the money, but at the same time I believe that when you are working so hard to make a difference (and let’s face it, our reach extends beyond the classroom), then you should be paid accordingly.

    • I support teachers 100% but I also know that there isn’t anything like keeping a community safe from the criminal element in our prisons working 12 hour shifts. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves through our mental health facilities; removing abused children from homes; and the list goes on. ALL of our public workers deserves to be appreciated and paid a decent wage for a well performed day of public services.

  6. All teachers deserve a pay raise simply because we love our jobs and love the title as an educator. We are the stepping stone that leads to every child getting the most valuable education he/ she can get. If other state employees feel that they should be paid for their service why not teachers we are just as important to the betterment of our future leaders. So I say yes five times over to a pay raise for teachers!

  7. We definitely need a pay raise. Insurance alone is so expensive that I do not have it for my children. I had to go else where for their insurance. I constantly buy supplies for my class. The income teachers make is poverty level. Our state is one of the lowest paid states in terms of teachers salaries.

  8. I don’t trust MS legislation. They make statements and have no idea how they will fund it. Or they lie, like they did with casino gambling, and reallocate the funds to something else, like a raise for legislation. Considering the fact that funding for education in Mississippi has taken a major cut over the last 3 years, the state of Mississippi has shown teachers what they feel we are worth. Which is why I left the state last year to teach in Memphis where I was paid more than $10,000 above what I was compensated in Mississippi. I am a certified math teacher for grades 4 thru 12, an educator in high need anywhere in the country. MS teachers I wish you all the best, but experience shows the raises will be temporary and 12 years later we’ll be at the bottom all over again.

  9. Some of the comments in this thread outrage me! Do my job for ONE year and then tell me I don’t need a raise. It is more than an August-May, 7-3 job. I have spent many hours after school, during the summer, AND on Saturdays to make sure my job is done to an excellent degree. We spend money out of our pockets to provide high quality educational experiences (I buy materials for science and hands-on learning experiments) and also help students in need. I have actually bought food, shoes, and underwear for kids that I’ve taught, yet can’t afford the monthly premium for health insurance for my own children. I work for one of the highest paid districts in the state, but never have enough money left at the end of the month to save for emergencies. In those instances, I have to use credit cards, payday loans, or pawn my guitar. I had to file bankruptcy last year because of a divorce and mounting medical bills that I couldn’t pay, not because I’m irresponsible with my money. Many that I know have or did have second jobs. It’s also sad that it took me 6 years of teaching and a Master’s degree to finally make what I did during my first year of teaching due to consistant hikes in insurance, taxes, and retirement! And they wonder why they can’t keep quality educators in the field?! It is WAY past time to do something.

  10. I agree with and applaud all the teachers that have spoken out on this issue. My husband is the teacher and he well underpaid!!!! For someone to spend 4 years of your life to get certified to teach, graduate and then can’t make enough money to make ends meet you must LOVE your job. My husband is a great teacher and is one that cares if his students actually can read on the their current grade level and not just pass them to get them out of his classroom. He has bent over backwards to make sure that his kids know the material and has on several occasions we have brought supplies for his classroom. He doesn’t make enough to put our daughter on his insurance so I carry her on mine. It hurts me to see how people think that teachers are so lucky but yet never have walked in their shoes by worrying if their students are learning the lessons, if they have a roof over their heads, if they had enough food so they will not be hungry or sleepy in class so they can be alert to learn . Teachers are also under a microscope with principals and have to do all this unnecessary paperwork just to cover their tails to show that they have actually tried to help these kids learn in every possible way, i.e. notes, charts, websites, worksheets, movies(educational) etc. … Why would anyone want to be subject to that stress unless you truly cared about the future of Mississippi because that is what these kids that my husband and all these other great teachers are working for the future. Without pay raises, what incentive does it give these college students to teachers??? Pay raises are the least we can give to these teachers that go in before 7 am and stay after 4 and work at home taking away time from their families. Good teachers are HARD to come by, yes there are some teachers that don’t truly care but for the ones that do we can STAND UP and say PAY these leaders that are shaping the future of Mississippi. Without these GOOD teachers and pay raises to entice them to do their jobs well our state will ALWAYS be the last in education. I for one am embarrassed to even have a debate if these teachers deserve it… it is mute question …. HELL YEAH !!!!!!!!