La. education advocates want teacher pay to match regional average ‘sooner rather than later’

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Louisiana’s public education unions will enter the 2020 Legislative Session with money on their minds, eyeing additional raises for some 50,000 of the state’s K-12 teachers.

The initiative heightens after state lawmakers agreed on a $1,000 teacher salary bump last year, a move that still leaves Louisiana’s teachers making below the southern regional average.

“We’re still not where we need to be,” Louisiana Association of Educators president Dr. Tia Mills said. “We’re still ranked among the lowest.”

In the 2017-8 school year — the most recent math available — the average Louisiana public educator made $50,359. (The regional average was $52,178, according to the Southern Regional Education Board.)

Education advocates argue that recent pay bumps in Georgia and Texas leave Louisiana with moving targets, as they try to keep teachers from leaving the state — or the profession altogether.

“I would certainly hate to see our Louisiana-born and bred teachers to leave the state to go to a neighboring state to find a job,” said Louisiana Federation of Teachers president Larry Carter.

Some unknowns remain. Louisiana’s incoming legislature is considered the most conservative in state history. What happens next also depends on who takes the helm in some crucial seats. State Education Superintendent John White will leave his post in March, and who will succeed him is still unclear. Who will lead the House Education Committee is also a mystery.

“We believe education is key, and it’s not about whether you’re a D or an R,” Carter said.

Lawmakers will start their annual spring session March 9.

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