‘For years we have felt that we were neglected’, support shown as Mississippi teacher pay raise proposal is moving forward

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A proposal to give most Mississippi teachers at least a $1,000 pay raise is starting to move forward at the state Capitol.

“For years we have felt that we were neglected and we weren’t listened to so I am proud to stand here today,” said Erica Jones the President of the Mississippi Association of Educators.

The plan won approval Thursday in the Senate Education Committee. It will go to the Senate Appropriations Committee another day, and it must pass there before it can go to the full Senate.

“It is a first step that we’re going to take in a hopefully very quick journey to bringing up our teachers to a compensation level in which they do not have to make an economic decision whether to teach or not,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann.

Senate Bill 2001 would give $1,000 across-the-board raises to most teachers and teachers’ assistants.

Teachers in the first two years of their careers would receive slightly larger raises of $1,100. That’s an effort to boost the beginning salaries.

“My vice-chair David Blount and I will meet with all these folks and look at what can we do for year 2, 3 and 4 of this term and compare what Mississippi does to other states how can we bring our teachers up to where they need to be,” Senator Dennis Debar R-43 the chair of the Education Committee said.

Mississippi has long had some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and several other officials said during the 2019 campaign that increasing teacher pay would be a priority this year.

“The House had the leadership to begin resolving the $18.4 million deficit from last year’s teacher pay raise as soon as the 2020 Session started, and the Senate wanted to send a similar message to our public educators this year. The message is one of support and respect,” Hosemann said. “I appreciate the leadership Chairman Dennis DeBar and Vice Chairman David Blount have shown working together on this important legislation.”

Hosemann and committee leadership support studying teacher pay once the session ends to review best practices in other states and develop a plan moving forward.

“We are facing a teacher shortage in many of our districts which is reaching a critical level.  Part of turning this dire situation around is monetary. Our teachers are doing some of the most important work in our State, and they deserve to be properly compensated for it,” DeBar said. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in the House on this and other education issues.”

Governor Tate Reeves’ office released a statement about teacher pay.

As Governor Reeves said in his State of the State Address, his priority is simple: paying our teachers as much as we can possibly afford. Governor Reeves is committed to elevating our public schools and recognizing our hardworking teachers who prepare our children for their futures. That means a pay raise for every teacher – and a new mission to give our state more national board certified teachers per capita than any state in the nation. Last year, Governor Reeves unveiled his teacher pay plan, which includes raises over four years, increasing the supplement for national board certified teachers, and more. He is committed to delivering on that plan for the teachers-and ultimately the students-of Mississippi.

Renae Eze, Spokesperson for Gov. Reeves

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