For the first time in seven years Mississippi teachers can look forward to a pay raise. MPB's Paul Boger reports leaders say the pay increase is an investment in Mississippi's future.
"Does anybody know what that shape is called?"
"Sphere. "Can you say that?"
"Sphere. . ."
Ginger Douell is a kindergarten teacher at Clinton Park Elementary School. She says many people don't realize how much work goes into teaching.
"We always work." said Douell. "We're taking stuff home with us; we're working on the weekends. We get our kids and our husbands to come back up here on the weekends and help us put up bulletin boards to get the classroom ready, rearrange furniture, make copies. It's a family affair. It's something that we all do. We put a lot of effort into this. This isn't just a job. For me, it's a calling."
The dedication shown by Douell and educators across Mississippi is why lawmakers passed a 25-hundred dollar raise over the next two years. Governor Phil Bryant, who signed the raise into law yesterday, says the measure is an investment in the state's future.
"We need the best and the brightest here." said Bryant. "Our economic development into the future depends on an educated workforce. A really good teacher in the classroom, that we pay well is the best element that we have to make sure that is successful."
While the law guarantees educators an across-the-board increase for the next two years, it also implements a merit raise based on school performance. Critics of the plan say it will have a negative affect on those good teachers who may be working in low-performing school districts. State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says the Department of Education will use pilot programs to flush out any kinks in the merit pay system.
"I think what we're trying to look for in terms of my position is we need to make sure that it's fair, that it's transparent, that it's equitable and that teachers are feeling the same way. I think teachers have got to feel that for it to really be successful."
Teachers can expect the first $1500 raise July 1st. The second, $1000 raise will come in July of 2015.