Letter to the editor
Published 1:35 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023
I have great respect for Governor John Bel Edwards. And his wife, a former public-school teacher who has endorsed education as a part of bringing Louisiana up by its bootstraps.
And I’ve endorsed the governor’s efforts to raise teacher pay. Louisiana teachers are paid less than other teachers across the South, which means their average pay is lower than the lowest-paid region in the entire United States. On the St. John School Board and as president of the Louisiana School Boards Association I have lobbied in Baton Rouge and in Washington for the need to upgrade and reward qualified teachers. But fewer and fewer people are becoming teachers and those who do usually leave the profession in five years or fewer.
Mr. Edwards wants an across-the-board $2000 teacher pay raise and there’s enough money for that but reports from Baron Rouge say Legislators are “lukewarm” to the idea. There are reports that an abundance of money may lead him to raise that raise to $3000 a year, which still wouldn’t get them to the Southern Average, which tends to grow as other states in our neighborhood raise their own teachers’ pay.
But our conservative legislators are even less likely to approve that, especially since pay is permanent but windfalls aren’t.
At some point voters need to demand highly qualified and well-paid teachers and understand that education is a key part of economic development. In my mind it’s the most important part to ensuring Louisiana’s future.
Former School Board member
Former President, LSBA