Party like it’s 2009

Tennessee teachers may want to hop in the wayback machine in order to see a bigger paycheck. That’s according to data released by the Sycamore Institute that indicates that teachers in Tennessee now earn about $2400 less per year than they did in 2009.

Here’s more from the group’s analysis of Governor Lee’s 2020-21 budget:

Between FY 2016 and FY 2020, lawmakers enacted a total of $429 million in recurring increases for teacher pay. Since that time, growth in Tennessee teachers’ average pay has begun to catch up with inflation. After adjusting for inflation, however, teachers’ average pay during the 2018-2019 school year was still about 4.4% lower than a decade earlier.

To approach the salaries teachers enjoyed all the way back in 2009, the General Assembly would need to add roughly $100 million to Lee’s proposed increase for this year. That’s entirely doable, as the state has enjoyed multiple years of surplus revenue. That is, we can significantly raise teacher pay AND not raise taxes.

Of course, adding $100 million would only mean our teachers are BACK to the 2009 level. To make a real improvement, we’d need to at least double that number. Does Tennessee have more than $300 million available to commit to teacher pay? YES! It’s now up to the General Assembly to decide whether or not to make this investment.

Adjusting pay in this way could mean an average increase in teacher pay of just under $4000 for every teacher in Tennessee.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

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