Teachers union leaders meet at capitol; demand more pay and resources
BATON ROUGE- Members of the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers were angry earlier Tuesday and met at the capitol with a clear message.
"Pay our educators what they are worth. It's as simple as that," President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, Tia Mills, said.
Their anger comes after state legislators chose to limit their pay raise to $1,500, which is less than the $2,000 that was proposed by Governor John Bel Edwards.
Union leaders say there is a teacher shortage in the state, and Tia Mills says a lot of it has to do with pay.
"There are individuals who are not going into the profession. They are picking everything except education or they are leaving the profession simply because it is not enough to be able to support their families," Mills said.
Right now, public school teachers in Louisiana make roughly $56,000 per year. President of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Larry Carter, said other states in the region pay more and teachers are choosing to leave Louisiana for the higher pay.
"We have to be competitive with those other states in the southern region to make sure that we keep the best and brightest teachers and that we keep our veteran teachers here in Louisiana," Carter said.
Mills and Carter say those who oppose raising teacher pay do not know what it is like to be in the classroom and challenge them to see for themselves.
"See the work that is actually put forth in the classroom, on those school bus routes, in the cafeterias, and then if you spend some time you will see for yourself the hard work that is being put into those students," Mills said.
Both Carter and Mills say a lot of educators made sacrifices during the pandemic and want to see they are valued by the state. Tia Mills says there needs to be a change made now.
"We are nickeling and diming our educators each and every year by giving them $400 and $800 this year. $1,500 the next. They are worth so much more than that."
Carter also warns that if this continues, it will impact education for all students in Louisiana.
"If we continue down this path and keep coming in last when it comes to supporting teachers and school employees, we will find more teachers and more support staff in other professions rather than this noble profession of teaching our students," Carter said.
Teacher pay is a part of a proposed budget of almost $39 billion that the senate is expected to debate tomorrow.