Central Alabama educators debate bill to increase teachers’ salaries

Teachers in Central Alabama could soon get a raise if a new federal law goes into effect. Under the American Teacher Act, the starting salary for teachers would be $60,000 per year. As many districts in the region are still struggling to fill vacancies, this could transform the entire learning process. Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin says there is evidence that a pay raise for Alabama teachers would be beneficial in both recruitment and retention. He says that as part of the Teams Act, higher salaries were offered specifically for math and science teachers to fill critical positions,” says Dr. Gonsoulin. “Teacher salaries that we take seriously.” But those in education say money alone won’t completely solve the problem. They say they want to feel like they have a voice, too. “You want your opinion to be valued.” , says Richard Franklin, President of the American Federation of Teachers in Birmingham, “And in many educational situations where teachers or staff work directly with students every day, they can see things before they happen. And often their voice won’t.” And while teachers certainly like the sound of the American Teacher Act, they worry it’s not a long-term solution. As it stands now, states would only be cooperating for four years received tel for higher teachers salaries. “It’s time they got help,” says Erika Hughes, president of the Central Alabama American Federation of Teachers. “Everything falls on the teacher’s back. It’s not fair. This is a community effort and everyone needs to work together and the teachers need more hands and feet in the classroom. And until that happens, there will continue to be shortages.” DR. Gonsoulin says his thoughts are shifting to what happens after the next four years. “You also have to think about sustainability and inflation as inflation increases and the cost of living increases,” adds Gonsoulin. WVTM 13 contacted Dr. Eric Mackey, Superintendent of Education of Alabama. His office is working to set up time for an interview to discuss the impact of higher teachers’ salaries.

Teachers in Central Alabama could soon get a raise if a new federal law goes into effect.

Under the American Teacher Act, the starting salary for teachers would be $60,000 per year. As many districts in the region are still struggling to fill vacancies, this could transform the entire learning process.

Jefferson County Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin says there is evidence that a pay raise for Alabama teachers would be beneficial in both recruitment and retention. He says the Teams Act offered higher salaries specifically for math and science teachers to fill critical positions.

“You know, I’ve been in education for 31 years, and throughout those 31 years it’s always been a topic of discussion,” says Dr. Gonsoulin. “Teacher salaries. And I’m glad we’ve gotten to the point where we’re taking it seriously.”

But those in education say money alone won’t completely solve the problem. They say they also want to feel like they have a voice.

“You want your opinion to be valued,” says Richard Franklin, president of the Birmingham American Federation of Teachers. “And in many situations in education, the teacher or staff member who works directly with students every day, they can see things before they happen. And often their voice is not heard.”

And while teachers certainly like the sound of the American Teacher Act, they worry it’s not a long-term solution. As things stand, states would only receive funding for higher salaries for four years.

“It’s time they got help,” says Erika Hughes, president of the Central Alabama American Federation of Teachers. “Everything falls on the teacher’s back. It’s not fair. This is a community effort and everyone needs to work together and the teachers need more hands and feet in the classroom. And until that happens, there will continue to be shortages.”

dr Gonsoulin says his thoughts are shifting to what happens after the next four years.

“You also have to think about sustainability and inflation as inflation increases and the cost of living increases,” adds Gonsoulin.

WVTM 13 contacted Dr. Eric Mackey, Superintendent of Education of Alabama. His office is working to set up time for an interview to discuss the impact of higher teachers’ salaries.

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