Recruiting and retaining quality teachers should always be a priority

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2017

ATLANTA – Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), with thousands of members throughout the state, knows all too well the plight of many of our educators. “GAE has been waging the battle for salaries and benefits since its inception.  It goes hand in hand with attracting and retaining quality teachers for our schools. This is a persistent problem that has now caught up with us in that Georgia and the nation are facing teaching shortages.  While some of the ongoing vitriol toward teachers has contributed to this, you have to include the fact that there are potentially much better paying careers in other fields.  Teaching is difficult.  It is not easy.  It requires professionally trained personnel. The market should reflect that reality.  Teachers are the ones that prepare our children to become the tech workers, doctors, and engineers of each generation.  Our educators should not have to constantly battle to earn wages and benefits commensurate with their importance.”

To that end Chapman says his organization will again make this a priority during next year’s legislative session.  “This is an issue that we, unfortunately, must advance every session.  While we applaud Gov. Deal’s efforts over the last two [legislative] sessions to help the situation with a three and two percent salary increase respectively, there is still the reality that before 2016, it had been seven years since Georgia educators received a pay increase.  And unfortunately, many teachers have still not received their raises due to many local school districts opting out of paying them by exercising harmful waivers. This will only continue to cause Georgia to fall significantly behind the national average.  It is a hole we simply must climb out of if we are to both retain and attract the best and brightest for our children.  We simply do not have a choice.”

In addition, Chapman stresses the need to provide quality, affordable health insurance options and to protect the current TRS [Teacher’s Retirement System of Georgia].  “Those considering the teaching profession, whether freshly minted from grad school or starting a new career, have the same concerns as anyone regarding healthcare and retirement options.  Knowing the volatility of both, they are considering the full package and what it means for themselves and their families.  If we are serious about stemming the current shortage and attracting and keeping our quality teachers, decision makers must get serious about addressing these issues if we are to make Georgia competitive to teaching prospects from here, the nation and around the world.”

One final issue Chapman feels will help in this quest is to provide training for federal student debt forgiveness programs. “It is no secret that many of today’s students are unfortunately mired in debt,” said Chapman.  “Providing the knowledge and access to information to help them reduce their debt load, would only make teaching here more attractive.  The bottom line is Georgia needs more teachers now.  We believe attention to these issues by our decision makers will go a long way in helping Georgia reach its goal of a quality teacher in every classroom.”