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Leaders of a new group called Raise Up Teachers said Monday it plans to urge the Legislature to approve teacher pay hikes but more professional development and other improvements are also needed.

The organization is led by Meredith McGovern, who teaches social studies in Bossier City; Joni Smith, who was 2017 state Teacher of the Year and is now an education administrator in Livingston Parish and Lauren Trahan, an English/language arts teacher in Erath.

It is being assisted by another education group called Stand for Children, which is often at odds with Louisiana's two teacher unions.

Raise Up Teachers says it wants to raise the profile of educators "by ensuring teachers get the professional salaries they deserve, the professional development, resources and support they deserve in order to attract and keep the best and brightest educators in the classroom with students."

Gov. John Bel Edwards has proposed pay raises of $1,000, which the Legislature will consider when it convenes on April 8.

McGovern said her group wants to take the debate beyond pay raise talks and find ways to support educators in ways that improve student outcomes.

She said pay hikes of $1,000 translate into about $45 per month, which is less than it takes for families to attend a movie monthly.

Smith said that, as a single mother of two 10-year-olds, she is "constantly worrying about finances."

"A $1,000 pay raise is a great start but we know that it's going to take much more than that to make sure our students have the best teachers in front of them every day," she said in a statement.

Trahan said the upcoming debate is about more than teacher salaries but also improving the profession for the next generation of educators.

McGovern said about 500 teachers and others are part of the group.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators each claim about 20,000 teachers and other school employees.

The Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana has called for pay raises of $3,000 per year.


Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.