Teachers get largest salary increase in state history

JACKSON, Tenn. — The State of Tennessee could be improving the lives of teachers across the state in a big way.

Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill that will increase the minimum starting pay of teachers from $35,000 in 2019 up to $50,000 by 2026.

This bill is called the Teacher Protection Act. And according to the state, it is the largest salary increase in the state’s history.

This new pay raise will make Tennessee a top 10 state in the country for teacher pay.

Thursday, we spoke to Jackson-Madison County School teachers about the pay raise.

“The education field is a challenging field to be in at this time. So of course we can never really pay teachers for everything they do, but I think this will be excellent,” said Casshawndra Sain, the Assistant Principal and Athletic Director for South Side High School.

“I think it’s a good start, especially for some of the younger teachers coming in. It’s kind of an incentive. We all know we don’t get into teaching for the money, but it’s still an incentive,” said Brent McNeal, a teacher and coach at South Side High School.

Most of the teachers we spoke with say while the pay raise is a huge plus, most teachers don’t work for the money.

In Lee’s news statement, he said, “Teaching is more than just a career, it’s a calling.”

“Teaching is definitely a calling. Even though you’re saying $50,000, it sounds like a lot, but we know with this economy, it’s really not that much. And we know that teaching is not about the pay. Teaching is about just molding lives,” McNeal said.

“No one should go into education if they don’t love and care about children. We put a lot into our students, and so it has to be a calling,” said Anita Tucker, the Principal of South Side High School.

Teachers also agree this new pay increase will benefit in-teacher retention, but more importantly, teacher recruitment.

Some say it will help bring new energetic teachers to Tennessee.

“I do think, of course, that we are in need of teachers, that there has been a decline in educators to be certified and to be properly trained in the classroom. So the positive is they know they’ll receive pay for the work that they do,” Sain said.

The bill also protects teachers and taxpayers by ensuring that union membership dues are never automatically deducted from teacher paychecks.

You can find more news from across the state here.

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