TEA President Barbara Gray issued the following statement in response to Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State address.
“The governor’s proposal to put $105 million into teacher salaries demonstrates his commitment to fulfilling his promise to make Tennessee the fastest improving state in teacher salaries. The key, however, is that safeguards need to be put into place to ensure that this 4 percent ends up in teachers’ paychecks, unlike in previous years.”
“For four years now, the average teacher in Tennessee has seen only a fraction of the governor’s proposed increase as a result of policy changes at the state level no longer requiring that the money be applied to teachers’ base salaries. Meanwhile, we have educators who qualify for food stamps as many educators face increasing insurance expenses, as well as digging deeper and deeper into their own pockets for classroom supplies.”
“A second year of proposing a significant increase in teacher salaries shows that the governor recognizes the investment our teachers are making in our students every day. To attract and retain the best teachers, it is crucial that Tennessee stay competitive with neighboring states in teacher pay, something we have been unable to do in recent years. The governor’s proposal sets us on the right path to making sure there is a qualified, committed educator in every classroom across the state.”
“It is also encouraging to see the governor propose funding for the final month of insurance coverage for educators. The state had previously only funded 10 months of insurance for educators, placing the burden to fund the final two months on the shoulders of our local districts. After TEA’s successful lobbying efforts in 2015, the General Assembly added funds for the eleventh month of insurance. The governor completing the year with his proposal is one more demonstration of his intent to support our educators.”