Teacher group seeks blanket raise, Bryant opposes

The Mississippi Association of Educators is pushing for a blanket pay raise for the state’s public school teachers, but Gov. Phil Bryant is holding firm in his opposition, saying he only wants to give pay raises based on merit.

Bryant reiterated his preference for raises based on test scores and teacher evaluations Monday, talking with reporters outside the Southern States Energy Board in Biloxi.

On Friday, Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, said she believes lawmakers have enough money in 2014 to fully fund the state’s K-12 education budget and give teachers a raise if they choose.

“We are going full throttle for an education pay raise this year,” Helmick told a group of teachers attending a training session in Jackson.

Mississippi teachers made the second-lowest average salary in the nation in 2011-2012 at $41,646, according to a study by the National Education Association, which includes MAE. Mississippi’s average pay actually fell from the year earlier, when it was $41,975. Causes for that decrease could have included retirements and departures of more senior, higher-paid teachers, or cuts to local district supplements.