Changes made to how TN teachers get paid - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Changes made to how TN teachers get paid

(WMC-TV) - The Tennessee Board of Education approved revisions that could change the way more educated educators are paid. The revisions have some people concerned with what the changes could mean for future teachers.

Under the plan, no teacher could earn less than he or she is currently making, but the board approved the changes with a 6-3 vote despite opposition by teachers across the state.

Becky Cross has been a teacher for more than 30 years.

"Teachers. We do it as a love for the children and education and helping people learn but we do need to be able to take care of our families," she said.

The current salary schedule lists the minimum annual salaries for teachers for each year of experience through 21 years. It also lists five levels of college degrees.

But the new minimum schedule lists only four pay levels based on years of experience up through 11 years, and only two levels of college degrees, bachelor's and any level of advanced degree.

"It certainly has a devastating impact on the recruiting of the teachers," said Memphis Education Association President Keith Williams.

Representatives from the Memphis Education Association say recruiting and keeping teachers in Tennessee will be one of many problems should the proposal pass.

"If you're a candidate and you look and see that this is what I can do or it I have to wait 6 years of have this or that or something else to get a pay raise I don't think it attracts quality people to the state," said Memphis Education Association Executive Director Ken Foster.

They also say it is not fair to not offer incentives for teachers to continue their education.

"If you're a lawyer, the more years you spend in a profession the more you know. If you're a doctor, if you're an architect, so it makes no sense to not pay people for years of service," added Foster.

Teachers like Cross say it sends the wrong message to educators.

"Some of the most effective years are the teachers that are way past 11 years."

This marks the first time in Tennessee history that the state minimum salary schedule has been lowered.

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