Louisiana Legislature gets behind greater raise for K-12 teachers, staff


    In Louisiana, 54.5% of students attending public school are of color; yet there are only 26.1% teachers of color working in those schools, a gap of 28.4%. (Getty Images)

    The Louisiana Legislature’s leadership has gotten behind a proposal to boost the pay raises teachers and support staff in K-12 schools are expected to receive in the next school year, Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, announced Thursday.

    The Louisiana Senate Education Committee, which Fields leads, rejected legislation Thursday that lays out funding for K-12 public schools annually in part because they want school faculty and staff pay to be increased further during the next academic year.

    The Republican legislative leadership wants K-12 school teachers to receive a $1,000 raise and support staff to receive a $500 raise next year, Fields said at the committee meeting. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, had proposed raising teacher pay by $400 and support staff by $200 in his state budget proposal.

    It’s not clear where lawmakers plan to get the money to pay for the larger raises. The larger raises could cost the state $40 million. 

    The governor’s staff said Thursday that he would get behind the Legislature’s bigger raises. Edwards has said that he also wanted to raise K-12 teacher and support staff pay more than he originally proposed, but the governor was waiting for the latest state revenue estimates to be produced. He would push for a more generous pay raise once he was assured the state was expecting to collect more money to pay for them.

    The governor and Legislature also raised K-12 teacher and support staff pay by $1,000 and $500 respectively in 2019. Last year, they did not receive a raise at all, which angered the state’s teachers unions. 

    Louisiana has about 50,000 public school teachers who make a little over $50,000 per year on average. Their average pay is well below the national average, and the state’s teacher unions have been complaining for years about the gap between what they make and what the average teacher makes.