Teacher pay raise suggestion sparks debate from educators

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves made the suggestion via tweet

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi teacher shortage has been discussed before, including their request to have more competitive pay. Now, some state leaders are suggesting a pay raise proposal for next year.

But teachers aren’t jumping for joy. The teacher pay raise discussion started, and snowballed, on social media.

“All of a sudden there’s this tweet that says ‘oh what about a teacher pay raise’ and oh that happens to be during an election year,” said Mississippi Association of Educators president Joyce Helmick in a Facebook video.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said the plan will be finalized in the coming months.

“Now, we’ve got our budget in order, we’re in a good shape financially and fiscally for the state," noted Reeves. "If we’re looking for areas to invest, investing in the classroom and investing in our teachers is the right thing to do and I look forward to leading that charge when we open the next legislative session.”

The Mississippi Professional Educators also got calls and saw the posts.

“Educators felt like they were being played for votes,” said MPE Executive Director Kelly Riley. "I think that educators would be more likely to see this as a genuine act of support or interest for public school teachers if there were a more consistent track record by the state leadership demonstrating support for public education, schools, and teachers.”

Sen. Joey Fillingane calls the backlash "sour grapes on their part”. Fillingane also believes it is consistent with what’s been proposed while Reeves and others have been in leadership.

“In 2014, we gave teachers a $2,500 a year pay increase, as well as raise starting salaries for new teachers and also passed the program that says if your school receives A or B or improved a letter grade, there were also merit based pay increases,” explained Fillingane.

Meanwhile, educators are skeptical.

“We’re not falling for the scraps this time, and we’re going to understand that this is a political ploy on their behalf to get our educators to vote for them.”

Governor Bryant has also added his support of a pay raise via Twitter.

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