Teachers pay on the rise
by Paisley Boston
Apr 06, 2014 | 3691 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The debate over teacher pay raise has finally come to a screeching halt.

Teachers will receive $4,250 over four years but experienced teachers are required to meet certain requirements to collect the full amount.

Teachers will receive $1,500 spread over the first two years.

Then, if state revenue continues to grow at least three percent a year, teachers will get a projected raise of $2,750 over the third and fourth years of the plan.

Those in the first five years of teaching will receive the raises automatically.

Teachers with more experience are required to meet three of 22 criteria, ranging from earning certification by National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to joining a civic club.

Business Fundamentals and Marketing teacher for Cleveland Technical and Vocational Center Atalya Peterson said she is enthusiastic about the new raise.

“I feel that the raise is necessary. People do not realize how much teachers have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. We should be compensated for all that we do,” said Peterson.

“More money needs to be put into education, especially in Mississippi. We rank very low on almost every scale as far as academics and test scores. If the state put more money into lower grade level instruction then I firmly believe that Mississippi will have a better chance at achieving higher rankings and scores on state mandated tests,” she continued.

Senators passed a plan that would give teachers an additional $1,500 beginning July 1 and another $1,000 a year later.

Under the Senate’s plan, third year teachers in schools that maintained an “A” or “B” from one year to the next would be eligible for merit pay, teachers in schools that moved up a letter grade would receive $100 per student and each school that maintained a “B” would receive $75 per student.

“Based on the dollar amount that we came up with, I thought that we had a good proposal,” said Senator Willie Simmons in a previous interview.

“Teachers seemed to be supportive of the proposal that we came up with and I thought it was a good plan. With our plan, teachers would have received more money and it was going to create an incentive program,” added Simmons.

Members of the House Education Committee said the Senate plan was flawed because it would spend less money on raises than the House and would encourage good teachers to stay away from bad schools.

According to the National Education Association Mississippi lawmakers last increased teachers’ base pay during the 2007 election-year session.

“Some teachers are leaving Mississippi because of the low salary and I figure the new raise could possible lead to more teachers staying in Mississippi or in the profession. I feel that teachers are ranked very low in the professional realm and that should be changed,” said Pearman Fifth grade teacher Charlette Kinney.

“I think this is going to be good for us,” she added.

Mississippi had the second lowest average teacher pay in the nation during 2013 at $41,994, which was only above South Dakota.

Although Mississippi teachers can look forward to a salary increase, fifth grade teacher at Pearman said he is believes Tennessee teachers should have received a raise as well.

“I think the pay raise is an incentive because in our neighboring state, Tennessee, their governor failed to sign the teacher pay raise bill. Teachers in Tennessee did not receive the raise. Our pay raise should not be with the southeastern average. If anyone is successful it is because of a teacher. One of the disturbing facts that I see is individuals are retiring early who have a wealth of experience but are going out for economic reasons,” said McKay.

“There are so many teachers that have to get second jobs just to make ends meet. I am excited about the pay raise but then again I think about the fact that in three years the merit pay will have a negative impact on the education of our students,” he added.

Third grade teacher at Pearman Elementary School Jessica Horton said she is grateful for the raise but she believes that teachers deserve much more.

“I am relieved that they did finally come to an agreement and I am happy to know that we will get the $2,500 raise over a two year span but at the same time I feel kind of disrespected,” said Thorton.

“Legislatures are bragging that there is $410 million that they are putting into the rainy day fund. $150 million could have been put across the board for a $5,000 pay raise and $1,000 to state employees. I feel like they are disrespecting us by putting it into a rainy day fund when teachers need it now,” she added.

Thorton said although she believes teachers deserve more “buck” for their “bang” she is relieved to know that the raise is not primarily based on merit pay.

“I am relieved that it is not going to be an across the board merit pay because this would mean that teachers would have to jump through more hoops then they already have to and I do feel that teachers are the building blocks for all other professions,” she continued.

With the plan, teachers will receive two across the-board pay raises worth $2,500 and then be eligible for merit payments in 2016 – 17.

“Some teachers push so hard to make sure that their students pass state exams and they forget about educating the students. We all must remember to teach the total child while using rigorous instruction,” said Mckay.

Career Pathway Experience Teacher at Cleveland Technical and Vocational Center Chelsa Rash said she has been teaching for 17 years and the raise has been a long time coming.

“The job that teachers do is great task. I feel that the teacher pay raise is much deserved. Parental involvement is the key to the success of our children. Teacher resources are a very important part of the effectiveness and productiveness of the classroom,” said Rash.

Fourth grade teacher at Pearman Elementary Pam Perrett said teachers take on many roles and their pay should reflect their responsibilities.

“The teacher pay raise is very much needed because I don’t think people in general realize how much responsibility is on teachers. We are responsible for the academics and there is so much more. Sometimes children come to us with so many problems and we make time to help them with their problems by listening to them,” said Perrett.

“We do a lot and the teachers at Pearman are hard workers. I think sometimes, the public does not understand that,” she added.