In their March meeting, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will determine their Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) proposal to present to the legislature. The MFP makes up the state’s investment in K-12 education including teacher and school employee pay. If teachers and school employees are to receive a statewide pay raise this year, BESE must propose the raise next week.
Why Do Educators in Louisiana Get Paid So Little?
The Minimum Foundation Program is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools. It was established in order to determine the minimum cost of education in all public elementary and secondary schools. However, given the current state of our schools, one must ask: how much does it cost to educate a child in Louisiana?
Every day, teachers find new and creative ways to keep their students learning. Still, a lot of work goes into preparing an excellent lesson. Teachers need adequate planning time to assess student work, review relevant curriculum, prepare their lesson, draft lesson plans, make copies, find resources for their students to use, and more. For many teachers, their planning time is the only point in the day where they have time to drink some water, eat, or use the restroom.
Given the ongoing teacher shortage, many teachers and support staff are being pulled out of their planning time or lunch to cover classes. Not only does this leave them without any time during the day to attend to their own needs and prepare for their own class, but the unpredictability also makes it impossible to effectively create an instructional plan.
Is Louisiana's System for Teacher Evaluations Accurate?
There are many components that go into being a truly effective teacher. In Louisiana, policy dictates that two observations and an assessment score should narrowly judge the entirety of a teacher's work; every component and nuance of teaching for multiple students. Once a score is issued, there is almost no opportunity for teachers to redress any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in their evaluation.
This month, the Governor announced his Executive Budget. Each year the Governor releases his proposed budget, based on the revenue recognized by the state Revenue Estimating Conference, and it is largely considered to be the starting point for the state budget process.
In this year’s budget, the Governor proposed a $1,500 raise for teachers and $750 for school employees. He also said that if the REC recognizes additional revenue at their meeting in May, $49 million should go towards funding an additional $500 pay increase for teachers.
This raise would be the largest state-wide pay raise that Louisiana teachers have received in over a decade, and there are already members of the legislature questioning whether or not such an amount is feasible. But the truth is, this isn’t enough. Our schools have gone through cataclysmic changes in the last couple years. Educators feel like they’re working more than ever. Teacher retirement has gone up 25% from 2020-2021 and enrollment in teaching programs is at an all-time low. In order to get out of this hole we’re in, Louisiana needs to do more than just a few hundred dollars better than what was done last year, we need policy makers to recognize the extraordinary sacrifice of our teachers and school employees and rise to this extraordinary moment in history.
Louisiana is nearly $5,000 below the Southern Regional Average, and given teacher raises that are being proposed in other states, that number is only going up. Teachers deserve at least a $2,500 increase this year and next year, along with guaranteed cola increases in perpetuity, so that we don’t fall back into this hole again.