The legislative session ended with teachers receiving a pay raise of $1,500–a move that the Mississippi Association of Educators calls “pandering” and “insulting.”
Now another group, Pay Raise for Mississippi Teachers is stoking the fire by calling for protests and strikes among teachers.
The page admitted that while teachers agree that something must be done, there is a lack of consensus on what must take place and when.
“Over the next few days we will be floating some ideas, and maybe some polls. Any communication you have with us will remain private unless you openly post or comment on a public post,” a post read. “We are ready to act and we want to strike while the iron is hot, but we have to make and execute a plan that will see the best results. One thing I think we can all agree on is we have to do something. IT IS TIME!!!!”
Group administrators are not revealing their identities. The administrator making the posts has acknowledged that discussions took place about action taking place during state testing, but that results were “decidedly mixed.”
The next round of state testing is scheduled to begin April 15th.
Y’all Politics has reached out to the group and is awaiting a response.
Tensions have been building regarding the pay raise since before the 2019 Legislative Session even started.
The initial amount for the raise suggested was $50 Million for teacher pay raises following the special session in the summer of 2018. When Governor Phil Bryant and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves commented on those projected raises following that session, the Mississippi Association of Educators responded that it was all an election year ploy.
During the 2019 Legislative Session, a projected $4,000 was pitched by Rep. Steve Holland to the Appropriations Committee, but that request was not met.
More anger toward the pay raise was stirred when a last-minute $2 million dollars of the DFA appropriations was earmarked for the ESA program, despite all other efforts for additional funding failing throughout the session.
MAE and public school supporters such as Rep. Jay Hughes called the move “sneaky” and claimed that lawmakers lied about there not being enough money for a $4,000 raise, despite finding $2 million for the voucher program.
While discussions of protesting and striking have just begun, this is not the first time the threat of mobilization has taken place.
In 1985, teachers conducted a strike pushed by the Mississippi Association of Educators that brought teachers out of the classroom. The strike lasted about a week, with MAE changing its stance after a Hinds County Court found them in contempt of court during hearings regarding the push of the illegal activity. The 22-member MAE board was fined and faced a 2-day jail sentence that was suspended.
The bill signed in 1985 granted the raise… but not without language that prohibited a strike in the future, calling for licenses to be potentially revoked and teachers fined and fired if they participate.
Comments on the Pay Raise for Mississippi Teachers page acknowledges that a teacher walkout or strike is illegal, but that isn’t stopping the conversation of action of some sort. One commenter suggested a student walkout instead of a teacher walkout, while others called for teachers to strike, claiming that if enough participate, firings couldn’t be done.
Y’all Politics will continue to follow the happenings on the Pay Raise for Mississippi Teachers page.