Mississippi teachers weigh in on pay raise proposals

Mississippi teachers weigh in on pay raise proposals
Mississippi teachers weigh in on pay raise proposals(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Tuesday, members of the Jackson Association of Educators weighed in on the state’s two proposals to boost teachers’ paychecks.

The House and Senate both have separate plans. Teachers say they see the pros and cons of both potential deals.

“We matter, and children need us in order to learn,” teacher and Jackson Association of Educators Treasure Kedra Pope said.

Pope is passionate about educating our future leaders. She has been a teacher and literacy coach for more than two decades.

She believes teachers in Mississippi are underpaid. So, to hear lawmakers are taking some major steps to boost teachers’ pay in the state is exciting and long overdue.

“That is part of the issue with us in education in the state of Mississippi; we are already the low men on the totem pole as far as pay goes, and that makes it so difficult to recruit and retain teachers,” she stated.

George Stewart agrees. He is also a teacher and the President of Jackson Association of Educators, which represents 400 members.

“I feel a teacher pay raise will help keep us from having to work two or three jobs, and allows us to be more present for our children and support them,” he said.

Both Stewart and Pope say the Senate unveiled a proposal that offers a teacher an average raise of $4,700 over two years and provides higher salaries in the long-term.

However, it doesn’t look out for the teacher support staff. They say the House bill does include a $2,000 raise for teacher assistants, which they say is important.

Also, the teachers say the House bill is more front-loaded, including increasing all teachers’ pay by $4,000 to $6,000.

The bill also will increase the starting pay above the Southeastern and national averages.

“I do want our Senate and House to understand we appreciate the thought, but we just want to see something more meaningful, and we want to see something that will make an impact now,” said Pope.

“There are good things in both. What I would like to see is the Senate and the House come and take the good things out of both and make it one great bill,” added Stewart.

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