Tennessee House leader says K-12 teacher pay ‘like poverty wages’

Tennessee News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Those in the state’s K-12 education circles know that Tennessee teacher pay lags below the national average, but what about efforts to increase it?

“Our teachers are some of the hardest-worked people in Tennessee and I definitely see a raise coming in,” says House Republican Caucus Chair Jeremy Faison, who was voted into the leadership position this past August.

Few doubt the K-12 teachers’ low pay compared to other states, but Representative Faison says the issue is especially acute in those districts away from urban areas.

“Our teachers in rural Tennessee are struggling,” said Faison in a recent interview. “If you are a single parent and you are a teacher and you have two kids, that’s like poverty wages.”

No one on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill is yet putting out a number for teacher pay on what kind of raise it might be, but Representative Faison, who is from rural Cocke County in East Tennessee, thinks his fellow lawmakers will get behind some kind of pay increase for the K-12 teachers.

“I am positive the legislature will be all there to get them what they deserve,” added the lawmaker.

The state’s K-12 education commissioner made a passionate appeal for more teacher pay during recent budget hearings before Governor Bill Lee.

“I think having a really strong statement saying this is the place in the country to come and remain a teacher–that is our moonshot,” Dr. Penny Schinn told Governor and his budget staff last month. “Then this conversation is going to be incredibly important as a state.”

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