TEA continues to urge Gov. Bill Haslam and the state legislature to “Beat Bama” in teacher pay. With some millions in recurring revenue yet to be allocated, TEA is working to ensure more funds are dedicated to teacher salaries in the final budget version.
The salary increase would be separate from the $30 million announced by the governor in a budget amendment recently, which would go to improving school safety. That amendment includes $25 million in one-time, nonrecurring funds and an additional $5.2 million dedicated to recurring school safety grants.
“The governor’s initial budget proposal includes $212 million in new spending, with $55 million dedicated to teacher pay,” said TEA President Barbara Gray. “The governor’s initial proposal amounts to a 2 percent increase in state funding for teacher salaries, but TEA is pushing for closer to a 4 percent increase for teachers. We know we can ‘Beat Bama’ in teacher pay!”
TEA launched the “Beat Bama” initiative in an effort to bring the average teacher pay in Tennessee above that of our neighbor to the south. TEA members from across the state have been coming to Civication on their spring break to talk to their elected officials at the Capitol about the importance of making good on the governor’s promise he made four years ago to lead the nation in teacher salary increases.
“Since Gov. Haslam made that promise in 2014, he’s been steadily increasing teacher pay in his annual budgets, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing,” Gray said. “We hope he can finish his tenure as governor on a strong note and put us above Alabama in teacher pay.”
At the time of Haslam’s announcement four years ago, the average teacher in Tennessee saw little or no increase in salary in two years, while many educators faced increasing insurance expenses and had to dig deeper into their own pockets for classroom supplies.
TEA has also been pushing to automatically raise the state minimum salary schedule every year to drive money into teacher paychecks, which is especially important for rural teachers who are most affected by pay stagnation.
“Our leaders understand that Tennessee must stay competitive with neighboring states in teacher pay in order to attract and retain the best teachers,” Gray said. “The increases by Gov. Haslam in recent years really show that he is listening to teachers and understands the economic hardships they have been facing. We urge him to commit to a 4 percent increase in teacher pay in his final budget, which would be a signature accomplishment as he leaves office.”