The Tennessee Education Association Monday called on Gov. Bill Haslam to include a 6 percent pay raise for teachers in the next year’s budget while the National Council on Teacher Quality, a national advocacy organization, issued a report saying Tennessee teacher is low in actual dollars compared to most other states — but not so bad when cost-of-living factors are taken into account.
From The Tennessean:
(The report) shows it takes teachers in Nashville, Shelby County and dozens of other districts decades to reach the average maximum salary of $75,000 for teachers nationwide.
…Nashville and Shelby County came in near the middle for “lifetime earnings” over the course of the 30-year career: The report estimates a teacher in Shelby County earned about $1.9 million over 30 years, starting with a $42,300 salary and ending with a $72,900 salary. Nashville teachers start lower, at an average of $40,400 a year, and receive about $69,600 after 30 years, accounting for “lifetime earnings” of about $1.8 million, according to the report.
Those Tennessee salaries look considerably better when adjusted for 2013 cost-of-living data, produced by the national Council for Community and Economic Research. Shelby County’s adjusted earnings of $2.2 million, with an adjusted ending salary of $83,500, put the district at seventh out of 125 school districts in the report for districts where teachers “earn the most.”
Nashville teachers also fared much better on the “adjusted” scale: Their $2 million annual earnings and $78,000 annual salary helped the district come in 17th out of the 125 districts examined.
…In a statement Tuesday, the Tennessee Education Association called on Haslam to increase teacher pay by 6 percent during the upcoming legislative session, with additional increases scheduled in the next few years. Union executive director Carolyn Crowder referenced Haslam’s promise in asking the governor for the salary increase.
“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,” Crowder said in a news release.
Haslam denies that he’s not committed to raising teacher salaries, and has promised to focus on education during his second term. However, he recently said any pay raises this year would also be unlikely: Haslam is asking state agencies to prepare budgets with a 7 percent cut while fending off legislative efforts to repeal or reduce some of the state’s main sources of tax revenue.
The Chattanooga TFP has further comment from Haslam:
“Well obviously, as you know, last year one of my priorities was to fund a pay increase for teachers,” Haslam told reporters after Tuesday’s round of department presentations. “We’d like to do that. We’re asking more of them than ever. They’re producing better results than ever.
“But again,” Haslam cautioned, we’re restricted by budget funds what we can do. It’s too early to say this year what we’ll have funds to do. But I don’t think it’s any secret that funding a pay increase for teachers is one of my priorities.”
He added that “obviously, we’ll have to wait and see and it’ll depend on the revenues.”
Revenues are running about $91 million above projected estimates in the current budget year.
The TEA says teacher salaries have remained flat since 2011, Haslam’s first year in office, when compared with the Consumer Price Index. Factoring in rising insurance premiums, Crowder said, some teachers’ salaries “are worth less now than they were when Haslam took office.”