The state’s largest teachers’ union is calling on Gov. Haslam to boost teachers’ pay by six percent. The Union issued the call ahead of the governor’s education budget hearing later this week. In April, Haslam backed off a plan to give teachers a raise, citing budget limits.
Tennessee ranks near the bottom in the nation for teacher pay. Haslam has said that before he leaves office he wants Tennessee to earn the title of “fast-improving” in salaries.
Carolyn Crowder, who heads the Tennessee Education Association, said she hasn’t forgotten that promise. “We think his heart and mind was in the right place when he made that statement, and we’d like him to follow through,” Crowder said.
She says she knows one teacher in East Tennessee with seven years’ of experience, a bachelor’s degree and a take-home pay of around $17,000 a year.
“That’s going into the povertization place. She signed up to teach because it was a calling, but you don’t sign up to put your family in poverty, and you need to be able to take care of your family and stay in your profession,” Crowder said.
The average salary for a teacher in Tennessee is $44,000. Still, Crowder said teachers’ expenses are steadily rising, cutting into what’s actually left for families every month.