The Upper Cumberland’s Representative to the Tennessee Education Association said teachers are apprehensive about last week’s teacher pay raises.
TEA District Seven Director Brent Estes said that in the language of the bill the money for a four percent raise does not have to go to teachers.
“What we call the BEP funds that go through, which is a calculation,” Estes said. “That means it actually does not go to the teachers. It can actually go to whatever the school district chooses to use it for as what they may need. Whether that be for school supplies, it could be for to hire for another position. It does not mean teachers will get an actual raise.”
Estes said even if a school district does give raises, it will not increase paychecks by much. Estes said the state also raised insurance costs for teachers by six percent negating the pay bump.
“You really see we are not getting a raise,” Estes said. “Even though we advocated and wanted through TEA to get where we would not have an insurance increase. The state still did it. Legislation still voted and approved that. When you say two percent raise, it is not.”
Estes said this adds to a dropping teacher morale. Estes said many veteran teachers are entering retirement due to the stress of the school year.
“We are seeing so many changes, nobody is listening to us,” Estes said. “So therefore, the morale of our teachers is becoming down. With that, we are having less and less teachers to graduate from college to actually be an educator. We are having to call educators that have retired to come back to the classroom to help during the pandemic.”
The legislation passed would give school districts the funding for a 2 percent raise now, and eventually, a four percent raise.