MAE calls $1,000 teacher pay raise “pitiful”

Lawmakers are continuing to discuss the ‘teacher pay raise’ bill at the Capitol. 

After the Senate passed a proposal to give teachers a $1,000 pay raise spread out over the next two years, an amendment in the House passed to increase the raise to $4,000 over the next two years. 

Rep. Steve Holland authored the amendment knowing that the final number would be decided when the budget came into a clearer focus, but at the time, he said that it’s better to start high in a negotiation. 

“Don’t start on the low road, start on the high side,” he said. “You can’t negotiate from nothing. Negotiate from something with the Senate and then provide the means to do it with because we can do it if we want to.”

Now that legislators have begun budget discussions, Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn reportedly stated that teachers will likely see a one-time raise of $1,000 in the coming year. As a response, the Mississippi Association of Educators held a press conference at the Capitol voicing their displeasure with the rumored final number. 

“To say that I, along with my education colleagues, am disappointed in how this session has unfolded is an understatement,” MAE President Joyce Helmick said. “$1,000 is pitiful. $500 a year is pitiful. $9.62 a week is pitiful. $1.37 a day is pitiful. It has become quite clear that state leadership never intended to have a good-faith debate about the pay raise amount and that its fate was always going to be decided behind closed doors by an anonymous group of legislators hand-picked by the Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House.”

Helmick went on to say that schools across the state are suffering because teachers aren’t paid a livable wage, causing them to leave the state or leave the public school system.

“Our public schools are starved for resources. Our students are suffering because recruiting and retaining teachers is becoming increasingly difficult,” she said. 

Helmick said that state cannot move forward when state leaders “refuse to invest in public education” and that the MAE is tired of being used as “pawns” in election years. 

The MAE and legislative Democrats at the press conference said that anything less than the proposed $4,000 would be unacceptable.

A $1,000 pay raise would raise the average pay for Mississippi teachers to around $46,000, which is still nearly $5,000 shy of the Southeast average.

The full press conference can be seen below: