Tennessee Policymakers Fail to Invest in Teachers

State Rep. Bruce Griffey lists some states that outperform Tennessee in terms of academic achievement and then suggests “the biggest factor” is that those states pay their teachers a whole lot more.

He’s not wrong. Teacher pay in our state lags behind the rest of the nation. We also don’t invest in our schools and we don’t use available resources to improve our investment.

What’s wrong, though, is Griffey’s solution. He’s proposing some bizarre tax on money sent outside the country. Here’s the thing: We can fund a significant increase (around 10%) in teacher pay and still have a budget surplus. So far this year, our state is nearly $715 million ahead of projections.

The TEA estimates that teachers have worked an average of 13 additional hours each week this year. That amounts to at least $5700 in additional compensation. We could give every teacher a $5700 raise with $399 million — leaving $316 million and 7 more months of the fiscal year for additional collections.

In short, we have the money. Our policymakers should choose to invest it in teachers.

Here’s Griffey making the case that we need more investment in teacher pay:

WATCH: “To get out of the bottom we need to pay our teachers more.”

REP. BRUCE GRIFFEY, an extremist @tnhousegop member, ADMITS TN IS AT THE “BOTTOM” in Education-wants to take💰from undocumented workers to fix it.🤔@JasonAHodgesTN says this ugly bill will hurt the military. pic.twitter.com/aMkl1352gj

- The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) January 21, 2021

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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