The following news release was distributed statewide today by TEA.
TENNESSEE TEACHERS CALL ON HASLAM TO FULFILL SALARY PROMISE
State Association Proposes 6% Raise to End Povertization of Teaching Profession
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– The Tennessee Education Association today called on Governor Bill Haslam to fulfill his October 2013 promise to make Tennessee the “fastest improving state in the nation in teacher pay.” The call comes just days before Haslam conducts his first budget hearing for the Department of Education.
“Governor Haslam has said he intends to make Tennessee the fastest-improving state in the nation in terms of teacher pay,” said TEA Executive Director Carolyn Crowder. “Teachers are eagerly anticipating his budget hearing on Friday to see if he will start living up to that promise.”
State teacher salaries have remained flat since 2011, Haslam’s first year in office, when compared with the Consumer Price Index.
“When you factor in rising insurance premiums, some Tennessee teachers’ salaries are worth less now than they were when Haslam took office,” Crowder continued. “We are hopeful that the governor will rectify this situation and include a desperately needed raise in his proposed budget.”
TEA is asking Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to ultimately increase the state’s BEP funding for teacher salaries from $40,000 to $45,000 per BEP-generated teacher. Based on 2014 salary numbers, that would be a net increase to the average teacher’s salary of 11.3 percent.
“We’re not asking for this to happen all at once, but we are asking for the governor to get serious about investing in our teachers. The povertization of the teaching profession in Tennessee must stop,” Crowder said.
TEA’s proposal would mean a 6 percent increase in pay this year, with the remainder of the increase to be phased in over two to three years.
Crowder notes that many teachers didn’t get a raise this year or last, while inflation and classroom supplies coming out of teachers’ pockets have hit family budgets hard.
“Six percent is fair and critical, helping us break even with inflation because of stagnation at the state level and gets us on the road to becoming the fastest-improving state in the nation in teacher pay.”
By building the pay increase into the BEP formula, local school systems would receive additional financial support from the state.
“This proposal represents an investment in our state’s teachers and their students, but it also represents an investment in communities across Tennessee struggling to meet their budgets. We’re simply asking Governor Haslam to honor his promises and make investing in public schools a priority.”
Tennessee Teacher Salary Facts
- Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation in overall teacher pay and 40th in rate of improvement in teacher pay over the past decade (Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center, October 2014, arccta.org)
- The current weighted average teacher salary in Tennessee is $44,024 (Report to BEP Review Committee, October 2014)
- The Consumer Price Index calculator at the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the average Tennessee teacher salary today has the same buying power as it did in 2011, when Governor Haslam took office. That is, teacher pay has remained effectively stagnant during the Governor’s first term (http://www.bls.gov/bls/inflation.htm)
- There is a nearly 42 percent disparity in teacher pay among the highest-paying and lowest-paying districts in Tennessee. Tennessee’s funding formula was ruled unconstitutional in 2002 when the disparity reached 45 percent.
Suggested Revenue Sources
- Shifting a portion of pre-k funding to lottery reserves (up to $20 million)
- Using TennCare reserves ($300 million available)
- Franchise/Excise Tax (closing loopholes) - $100 million to $200 million
- Use recent increases in state revenue: Year over year revenue is up in the first four months of FY15 --
- July - 2.3%
- August - 3.7%
- September - 7.3%
- October - 5.7%
- Tennessee Department of Revenue: While franchise and excise taxes are down, closing loopholes can recapture this money and the trend is for sales tax revenue increases month over month. The Governor and General Assembly should commit to investing this money in TN's teachers and schools.
*Cost of plan: approximately $126 million