Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Massachusetts steps up for Puerto Rico, the White House convenes its first hunger conference in more than 50 years, and hydroponics could be the future of tomatoes in California.

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Arkansas Teachers Spend Their Summer Asking for Pay Raises

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Thursday, July 28, 2022   

When the new school year starts mid-August, many Arkansas teachers will have spent the summer in a frustrating bid to convince legislators they deserve a raise.

The state has a budget surplus of $1.6 billion, and in early June, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said a pay increase for educators would be on the agenda for the special legislative session.

Carol Fleming, president of the Arkansas Education Association, said it would have raised the starting pay from $36,000 a year to $46,000. But she acknowledged it is off the table now, as the governor said he does not have enough legislative support to move it forward.

"So, what we have been doing is reaching out to our legislators, trying to garner support for a pay increase for our educators," Fleming explained. "Not just for certified teachers, but for all educators."

Fleming added they will continue to rally and protest, with the next event on August 7 at 4 p.m. in front of the State Capitol. The special session is set to start the week of August 8.

A National Education Association survey said the average teacher pay in Arkansas is almost $52,000 a year, but compared to other states, Arkansas ranks 46th, and the low starting pay makes it hard to recruit new teachers.

Fleming emphasized increasing it is a practical matter, which will also allow school districts to retain their best educators.

"Right now, we are seeing educators leaving the profession," Fleming observed. "We are at a critical shortage for our educators, and that's not just certified, but all educators."

She added it has been discouraging seeing people leave the field of teaching or move to surrounding states for higher pay. The survey, based on last year's salaries, also found teachers are making less than they did a decade ago, taking inflation into account.


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