With the vocal support of Gov. John Bel Edwards, lawmakers are gearing up this spring to give Louisiana teachers a $1,000 pay raise. Assuming the measure passes, it would be the first statewide raise for teachers since 2013 and only the second since 2007, when Kathleen Blanco was still governor.
In Baton Rouge, this is a big deal, a top goal for both Democrats such as Edwards and many of the Republicans who control the Legislature.
As usual, though, Louisiana’s ambitions are dwarfed by those of Texas.
Monday, the Texas Senate unanimously passed a measure to give that state’s teachers raises of $5,000. The measure has the strong support of Republican lieutenant governor Dan Patrick and governor Greg Abbott, who declared it an emergency item in his State of the State address.
It’s not expected to face such smooth sailing in the House, and there remain disagreements over whether to include support staff, whether local districts should have flexibility and how to pay for it, just like in Louisiana. Still, the scope of the proposal is enough to highlight just how far behind the state has fallen in this key metric, and how hard it will be to eventually catch up.
The 2007 pay raise brought Louisiana teachers up to the Southern average, which is the goal once again. Yet other Southern states are also looking at increases or have recently passed them, according to a roundup by the Advocate’s Will Sentell.
As for Texas, that state’s median teacher salary last year was already $56,536, according to a USA Today report. Louisiana’s was $48,307.