Underpaid teachers in Louisiana next to strike?
Every day, men and women stand in front of classrooms across the country teaching all sorts of topics. Many of the educators will tell you they do it because they care about educating the next generation.
Teacher Debra Watson said, "I love teaching. It's a rewarding job."
The reward, however, isn't necessarily being seen in salaries. Below is a list of annual salary ranges for teachers nationwide, according to a May 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Elementary & Middle Schools - $60,900
Secondary Schools - $62,730
That same report shows the following averages for Louisiana teachers:
Elementary Schools - $48,310
Middle Schools - $49,250
Secondary Schools - $50,700
Watson said, "The work that we do is very important to the community at large and I think that we're underpaid and we certainly deserve a pay increase."
Debra Watson has been teaching in Monroe for 20 years. She said it's time for teachers to finally fight for themselves. Several in the community agree.
Tayler Smith of West Monroe said, "I think it's ridiculous how little they get paid. I mean, they're teaching our children."
Shawn Callaway of Delhi said, "Well, I believe they really need it. The struggle they go through teaching in the classrooms and dealing with all of the kids every day. They need a better pay."
Teachers in several states across the United States have recently been standing up to lawmakers for higher wages and have been fairly successful.
Sandie Lollie, president of the Monroe Federation of Teachers and School Employees, said, "I've been receiving an enormous amount of calls asking what are we going to do here in the state of Louisiana."
Lollie is also the vice president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. She said state educators nor support staff have gotten a raise in about a decade.
Recently a form was sent to teachers across Louisiana to find out what they're willing to do to get a pay raise.
"Are they willing to go to the Capitol to meet with our legislators to see what can be done about narrowing the gap," Lollie said.
Sandie Lollie isn't saying there will be a strike, but that the organization will do what Louisiana educators demand.
Watson said, "We should join in on the fight and get onboard. I think when we all come together in one voice and stand up and be heard I think they will hear us and it will make a difference."
Sandie Lollie believes Louisiana teachers should enter classrooms making a minimum of $50,000 annually, with a 10% - 20% pay raise based on experience. She thinks that will help attract more educators and allow teachers to live comfortably while completely focussing on their students.