LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

VOTER’S GUIDE, 2018 FALL ELECTION, BATON ROUGE

2: EBR school teachers/employees are requesting a pay raise (which they have not had in a decade) and that their salaries be adjusted for inflation. What is your position on a teacher/school employee pay raise and on adjusting their salaries for inflation?

I wholeheartedly believe teachers and employees in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System deserve a pay raise. It would be best if that raise came from the state rather than from our local system—or to be more precise, to be funded by an increase in state funding. Thankfully, Governor John Bel Edwards has recommended an increase in the Minimum Foundation Program, the school funding formula, to help pay for raises for public school teachers and employees. However, if the legislature once again fails to increase the MFP, then teachers and their union leaders need to carefully weigh the benefits of demanding a raise from EBRPSS at this time.

EBRPSS is being targeted for privatization. The flat MFP, a variety of unfunded mandates, a fundamentally flawed accountability system, and laws which privilege corporate charter schools are threatening the sustainability of our traditional public school system. It is vital that we protect our local school system from further privatization.

Privatization undermines the local democratic control of our schools—the very premise of a public education system—and it erodes the teaching profession. Charter schools are not required to hire certified teachers, adhere to a salary schedule, or participate in the Teachers Retirement System. If teachers want to protect their profession and their long term financial security, then it is important they recognize the benefits of protecting our traditional public school system.

There’s no question teachers deserve a pay raise and that EBRPSS needs to attract and retain highly qualified teachers in order to provide our children with a quality education. Hopefully, with Governor John Bel Edwards’ encouragement, the state legislature will increase the MFP so our local system can better afford a raise. If not, I suggest union leaders discuss with EBRPSS administrators and school board members the state of our current budget to determine what funds are available. More importantly, I suggest the union leaders educate their members about the threat privatization poses to the teaching profession, salary protections, and the retirement system so they can make an informed decision about the best course of action. I will support a raise funded without an increase in the MFP if teachers agree that it is in their best interest in both the short- and long-term.