Lawmakers are poised to give teachers a pay raise - but there are competing proposals

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 6:59 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Week two of the legislative session revealed the specifics of competing teacher pay raise plans.

There’s still a lot of time left in the session, but it seems like both chambers are wanting to make teacher pay raises a priority early on.

Now we wait to see how the specifics shake out. But all signs point to a significant change to the salary schedule for Mississippi public school teachers.

“So this week, I’ve seen a glimmer of hope from my educators,” said Mississippi Association of Educators President Erica Jones. “Some of our educators have posted on social media, praising the legislature for coming out with a teacher pay raise... not one but two.”

But we’ll have to see which proposal ultimately wins out or if lawmakers find a happy medium between the two. Either way:

“When we talk about the teacher pay raise, we have so many of our educators who are currently working more than one job,” noted Jones. “So the proposed teacher pay raise that is in place now would essentially mean that they may not have to work that extra job.”

So, let’s look at the differences between the two plans.

That blue line represents the current salary schedule, not even reaching $55,000 at year 30 for a teacher with a Class A license. You see that both the Senate and House plans start teachers off at a better rate and keep them on an upward trend.

“The House plan does a great job of, I think, incentivizing recruitment on the front end, really giving a great starting salary for teachers entering the profession,” said Toren Ballard, Director of K-12 Policy at Mississippi First. “Meanwhile, what the Senate plan does is that’s going to prioritize retention. And so even though it starts off a little lower, over time, there’s going to be more of an incentive to stick around in classrooms.”

The House plan raises starting pay by $6,000 right out of the gate, putting it above the Southeastern and national averages.

But the Senate plan builds in higher step increases, including in those first three years that are otherwise excluded. It would also give bigger bumps every five years.

As for the status check, the House has passed its version of a teacher pay raise out of committee and the full House. The Senate unveiled its plan, but they haven’t taken any votes on it yet.

“Being able to finally pay teachers what they deserve is going to be so significant, not just for the teachers themselves,” noted Ballard. “But it also means that there’s going to be more teachers and better qualified teachers in classrooms for those kids. And that’s going to wind up improving education for Mississippi students.”

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