Local AFT president reacts to proposed bill that would raise teacher pay

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:02 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There is a new bill up for discussion that would raise the minimum salary for teachers to $60,000 a year in every state including Alabama.

The bill is making its way through Congress with a hope that the increase will attract more people to profession.

The President of the Birmingham American Federation of Teachers, Richard Franklin, said the $60k would be welcomed news for many teachers across the state, but he said this potential pay increase doesn’t go far enough to address the teacher shortage, saying the issues go beyond pay.

“With anybody in any profession they work in everyday, they want to feel respected and they want to feel like they have a voice. In education, most of the people that have the voice are the people that are the politicians,” Franklin said.

Franklin said there’s also more money and less stress in other fields, which makes it harder to attract younger teachers.

Under the American Teacher Act, K-12 educators would be paid a minimum salary of at least $60,000.

But Franklin said teachers often use money out of their own pockets to support their students.

And while $60k is a good start, he believes it should be more.

“Providing food. Providing, out of their own pocket, school supplies before the pupil supply even hits at the beginning of school. Making sure bookbags are provided. You know, anything kids ask for just to make them feel special,” Franklin explained.

The federal government would award four-year grants to states and school districts to help pay the salaries.

School districts with a majority of low or moderate-income students would be prioritized.

“That would be big. In rural areas, if you have a small town, they don’t have the tax base to do it. There’s no way those districts can match dollar for dollar what Birmingham or even Jefferson County Schools collectively can have in resources in the tax base,” Franklin said.

The bill has not yet been assigned to a committee, but its sponsor is confident that the $60,000 minimum salary will receive bipartisan support from other members of Congress.

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