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Support for Teacher Pay Raise Building?

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Jan 2014 05:59pm | comments

Support for an across the board teacher pay raise for Mississippi teachers could be building. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that a rally in support of a raise for state teachers drew hundreds.

"Confirm a Raise for Educators. Confirm a Raise for Educators,"

Mississippi Association of Educators president Joyce Helmick leads the crowd in a chant in the capitol rotunda calling for an across the board pay raise for Mississippi teachers.

It has been seven years since the last base pay increase and bipartisan support appears to be building for a raise this year.

Like many in the crowd Senator Kenny Wayne Jones, a democrat from canton, invoked Martin Luther King Jr to support a potential raise as the rally occurred on M-L-K day.

"Martin Luther King had a dream today. And our dream is simply give our teachers a pay raise in our great state," Jones said.

Also in the crowd were teachers and parents like Martin Polomo who worry that low pay is harming the quality in education in Mississippi.

"Although I know there are states like New York, New jersey that take very good care of their teachers. They get paid almost double what our teachers get paid. So lets use some of the money that we are cutting to take care of our teachers," Polomo said.

At nearly 42-thousand dollars a year, Mississippi's average pay is second to last nationwide and 6th grade Forrest County teacher Beth Allen says some new teachers need second jobs or government assistance like food stamps to make ends meet.

"The new teachers that are coming on are having to take part time jobs just to pay their bills. They are driving to Slidell for more money. Down to Mobile for more money. We are not recruiting what we need to to carry on in the class room. And it is time. We need it," Allen said.

The Republican speaker of the House has made a teacher pay raise one of his top priorities.

The chairmen of the house and senate education committees, also both republicans, have indicated support for pay raise if there is money available in the budget.

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