Teachers Unions are responding to Governor John Bel Edwards’ backing of a $1,000 pay raise for teachers, and a $500 pay raise for support personnel, with one group saying that’s not enough. Louisiana Federation of Teachers Spokesperson Les Landon says it would take a $1,850 raise to get Bayou educators back to the regional average, but the regional average is still too low.

“The last time there was a significant pay raise was in 2007, which was a $2,300 pay raise for teachers and a $1,000 pay raise for para-professionals, and that’s probably a good place to start the conversation.”

LFT President Larry Carter expressed support for a two to three year plan to obtain a $2,200 pay raise. The LFT is also calling for increased salaries for support workers and higher funding for public education.

A $1,850 raise, or 3.65 percent, would cost the state $105 million a year. Including all support personnel such as cafeteria workers and principles would jack the price up to $170 million a year.

Landon says while $1,000 would be appreciated, it wouldn’t be enough to substantially effect teacher’s quality of life. He says teacher’s chronically low pay is the reason why the state is facing a budding educator shortage.

“Nobody is going o turn down a $1,000 pay raise but that would not be enough to stem the outflow of teachers.”

Landon says a recent survey of his organization indicated widespread support for a potential strike if teachers do not receive an adequate pay bump, and increased funding for public schools.

Louisiana Association of Educators President Debbie Meaux says her organization is seeking a $1,200 a year raise for teachers, as well the establishment of living wages for support personnel. Meaux says the decade long decline in teacher quality of life has many looking to leave the profession.

“They are looking for at least the ability to provide for their families, and maintain that middle class status that is very quickly being eroded away.”

The state says average teacher pay in Louisiana is $49,800. The national average is $58,000.

Meaux says they’ve been in active conversations with the governor’s office about getting that raise, but notes they’re looking for more than just a pay bump. She says they’re also demanding an increase for public school funding.

“Education funding in general, not just salaries, but resources we put into our classrooms, has been frozen for over ten years.”

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