Teachers deserve raise after eight years

Published 11:02 pm Monday, April 25, 2016

It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like teachers in Alabama will receive a 4 percent raise.

It will be the first real pay increase for educators in eight years. A 2 percent raise was approved in 2013 but was offset by increases in benefit costs.

Under a bill the House passed 100-0 and the Senate approved 32-0, teachers and most other education employees will be given the raise starting next school year.

Teachers and education employees making less than $75,000 a year would get a 4 percent raise. Employees making more than $75,000 would get a 2 percent raise. School principals and assistant principals will also get a 4 percent raise, regardless of pay.

Dallas County Superintendent of Education Don Willingham said the way he understands the law, the raise will also include school support staff, which includes bus drivers and custodians as well as cafeteria and office staff.

“It’s long overdue,” Willingham said.

“Teachers work awfully hard and so much of what they do is out of pocket, so a 4 percent raise is a good start.”

Two cost of living increases in a decade certainly isn’t an outrageous way to award and thank our hardworking teachers and support staff.

Teachers deserve the raise, which was long overdue. Hopefully, the small increase will encourage and motivate teachers to stay in the classroom.

“Teachers are more than worthy of a pay raise, and it has been long time coming,” said Selma City Schools Superintendent Angela Mangum. “I’m hoping this small increase will encourage them and help motivate them.”

Earlier in the session, lawmakers had considered a disastrous bill that would have granted raises using student test scores to evaluate teacher performance. That sounds good on paper but was never practical in reality.

Schools and systems are too diverse and have different challenges. Such a comparison really is apples and oranges and would have been unfair to teachers working hard to improve test scores in underperforming districts.

We have seen locally the difference educators can have in the classroom. Earlier this year, four Dallas County schools, Southside High School, Keith Middle-High School, Tipton Durant Middle School and Brantley Elementary School, were taken off the failing school list after several years carrying that scarlet letter.

That improvement is proof that teachers deserve a raise, even in schools that maybe don’t have the highest test scores. Otherwise, what is the motivation to try to make a difference when your work isn’t appreciated?

The fact is it’s even harder work to make the kind of strides those four schools did than to just keep things going smoothly at higher performing schools.