Education

Governor Wants Tennessee to Quickly Rise from Bottom 10 in Teacher Pay

Gov. Bill Haslam wants Tennessee’s teacher salaries to become the fastest improving in the nation, a long-term and still-unfunded goal that complements a controversial new pay plan that rewards educators who perform the best.
October 4, 2013
 

Gov. Bill Haslam wants Tennessee’s teacher salaries to become the fastest improving in the nation, a long-term and still-unfunded goal that complements a controversial new pay plan that rewards educators who perform the best.

The Republican governor used an announcement recognizing the state’s “Teacher of the Year” nominations Thursday to unveil an objective he says is one of the most important his administration has taken on: bumping teacher salaries in Tennessee, which currently sit at the bottom 10 nationwide, to the very top in growth.

Haslam, vowing no new tax increases would be needed but soliciting help from the state legislature and local school districts, called achieving that by the time his second term would end in 2018 a “realistic” time frame.

“We’ve asked a lot of our teachers — I understand that,” said Haslam, flanked by Republican legislative leadership Thursday. “We believe that in addition to raising expectations for our educators, we must also recognize and compensate their achievements.

“The last day in my office when I walk out, one of my commitments is to make Tennessee one of the leading states in the country when it comes to teacher salaries.”

The average salary of Tennessee teachers is slightly less than $50,000, according to state officials. It actually went up more than 4 percent over the past two years, they say, while the national average increased by only 1.8 percent.

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