October 23, 2019
ATLANTA – The battle for public school teachers has escalated over recent months. Illinois has passed a state law mandating beginning teacher salaries start at $40,000. States are upping the ante in an effort to find teachers for rural areas, an issue that is reaching critical status for some. More and more states are saying the situation is simply becoming an issue of supply and demand.
Georgia’s public schools are feeling the pinch as well says Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). “There are always reports of the need for teachers here and there throughout the state and it seems to be increasing. That is why it is critical that Georgia stay competitive in attracting and retaining quality, trained teachers. GAE will be advocating during the 2020 legislative session for Gov. Kemp and our legislature to, at a minimum, complete the promise made by the governor to give the state’s teachers a $5,000 raise.”
GAE reminds us that only $3,000 of the promised $5,000 was passed during this year’s legislative session. “Our public school teachers were very appreciative of the raise,” said Booker. “They deserved it and do not take it for granted. However, they are expecting at least the remaining $2,000 to be passed next session. Younger teachers, who are more mobile, now know the market for quality teachers is strong and will pick up and move to where they’ll be able to command the salary they feel they deserve. They do not have to settle anymore.”
The additional challenge facing the salary issue is that contrary to what many believe, all school districts do not pass the full amount on to its teachers. “It is very disheartening for teachers in some districts to see others reaping the benefits of their work, but not them. You can only imagine what it does toward morale and for some beginning to look for, literally, greener pastures. GAE has been attempting to identify these school districts and empower its local members to advocate for receiving their complete raise as intended by the legislature.”
Finally, GAE will again take up the mantle for taking a serious look at providing a state salary schedule for those educators and workers that without whom our public schools could not function – our bus drivers, food workers, custodians, secretaries and others -- our education support professionals or ESPs.
The 2020 Georgia General Assembly will once again pose a challenge for public education. But GAE, through its members and their local connection to their legislators, will work toward helping those that teach in and support our public schools, receive what they need to ensure a great public education for all of Georgia’s approximately 1.6 million school children.