Louisiana Teachers Say John Bel Edwards’ $ 400 Pay Raise “Cheap”: “We Keep Lagging Behind” Legislature


Governor John Bel Edwards’ plan to increase teacher salaries by $ 400 per year was well received by teacher leaders on Friday.

“The Governor is being so stingy with these raises that we can’t buy a tank of gas every pay period with his so-called raise,” said Keith Courville, executive director of Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, one of three teacher organizations in the Express.

“We keep falling behind,” Courville said. “We need to improve”.

Tia Mills, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said teachers were disappointed with the proposal.

“A lot of them have already done the math,” Mills said. “For them it is a slap in the face.”

The LAE, like the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, is a longtime political ally of Edwards.

The governor’s executive budget was released Friday during a meeting of the powerful Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget.

The session begins on April 12.

Administration Commissioner Jay Dardenne told the committee that while the increase would be less than in previous years, it would lead the state to meet the regional average.

When asked about the criticism later in the day, Edwards told reporters that he must present a balanced budget amid limited dollars and that he remains committed to moving the average teacher salary to the regional average.

Louisiana teachers were paid an average of $ 50,923 for the 2018-19 school year, the latest figures available.

The 16-state regional average was $ 54,930, a gap of $ 4,007. The gap between Louisiana and the regional average salary widened by 74% between 2019 and 2020. Edwards has vowed to reach the regional average by the end of his term in 2024.

As the teacher pay gap widens between Louisiana and other states, educators say increases should be a 'priority'

The gap between the average teacher salary in Louisiana and the southern region average skyrocketed 74% last year, according to the latest …

The American average is $ 58,540.

Edwards’ $ 40 million pay plan would also include a $ 200 salary increase for support workers, which are cafeteria workers, school bus drivers and others.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers, in a note to members Thursday night, called the proposed $ 400 annual salary increase small.

“Being an educator is more difficult than ever,” says the message. “This year, teacher morale has plummeted. If we don’t work to address this now and show our teachers and school employees how much we value their service, our schools will only continue to lose talented staff and our students will suffer.”

The group’s leaders urged teachers to lobby the governor, the Legislature and the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to support a “significant and sustained” pay increase for teachers and other school employees.

The LFT did not specify how much it should be.

When it comes to pay, Louisiana public school teachers are better than average at first and then plummet in the rankings for the rest of …

Courville said he favors a $ 4,000 per year raise for teachers.

He also said that wage increases may be justified amid a pandemic amid high unemployment figures at the state and national levels.

“Teachers are essential front-line workers,” Courville said.

Mills said he also favors a $ 4,000 salary increase for teachers, “which is awarded to them for the hard work they have been doing.”

Teachers in Louisiana last got a pay raise in 2019: $ 1,000 per year.

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In a makeover, Governor John Bel Edwards’ office proposed a salary increase of about $ 500 for teachers on Thursday, less than two weeks after the government …

Edwards proposed a $ 500 salary increase last year, but it was shelved after the coronavirus pandemic caused state revenue to drop.

The governor said the funds are available this time due to an injection of federal aid for Louisiana’s Medicaid program.

The spending plan is for the financial year beginning July 1.

Under Edwards’ spending plan, basic state aid for public schools would essentially be frozen, as it has been for most of the last decade.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said he supports the $ 400 proposal.

“It’s hard not to do it,” Cortez told reporters after Friday’s budget presentation. “I will be 100% in favor.”

The governor’s proposal marks the beginning of a lengthy debate that will likely last until the Legislature rises in June.

BESE will present its own public school budget to the Legislature in the coming weeks.

In addition, the Working Group of the Minimum Foundation Program, which advises BESE, will meet on Tuesday at noon to discuss the same issue.

The MFP is the complex formula used to allocate state aid to some 700,000 public school students.

Edwards’ proposed spending would also increase pay for college professors by an average of 4% and would be the first of its kind in 13 years, according to higher education officials.

The median salary is 14th in the region for teachers in two-year schools and 15th for four-year colleges, the Louisiana Board of Regents said.

“Today’s executive budget sends a clear message: Education is critical to our success and now is the time to make strategic investments in our people,” Higher Education Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed said in a statement.

The governor’s proposal also includes roughly the same funding for the Taylor Opportunity for Students Program – merit-based – and Go Grants – needs-based.

Those amounts are $ 12.2 million and $ 11 million, respectively.

Capitol News Bureau staff writers Mark Ballard and Sam Karlin contributed to this report.

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