CUNNINGHAM: JBE Tells Teachers They Aren’t Really Worth The Effort

Teachers all over the state have been outraged that John Bel Edwards bought their vote with a $1000 pay increase with the implication of more in raises only to immediately propose a budget that doesn’t directly include raises.

Instead, he blocked off money to districts that they would ostensibly use to increase teacher pay. This was, of course, not going to happen, as every district will see that money and think “New projects!” before giving teachers any consideration.

So, facing backlash from teachers (and, more importantly, their unions), Edwards appears to have backed down and will offer teachers another $500 per year. Or, according to my calculator, a little over $41.50 per month before taxes. Once all payroll deductions are taken into account, it’s somewhere between $15-25 per month at best.

It would frankly be easier for him to just say “Your money’s on the dresser. You can show yourself out.”

The unions were always going to back Edwards and push their members to vote for him in 2019, but most teachers genuinely believed he was on their side and bought into the idea that the Republicans were the ones trying their hardest to deny them more pay. It’s not true, but the unions bragged openly about how many calls, texts, mail pieces, and other methods they used to get voters out for Edwards.

At the end of the day, you see, these pay raises are for the unions. When pay goes up, union dues go up. Teachers do not see much of a benefit from these small raises, and there is nothing motivating them to keep at it while other states are bumping up their teacher pay in higher increments and offering things like more incentives and better classroom conditions.

Louisiana teachers aren’t getting any of that. Instead, they are getting a walk of shame out of throwing their support behind Edwards and getting nothing for it. If you listen to the rumblings, though, you get the sense that teachers aren’t prepared to just accept that.

For the past two years, Louisiana teachers have been prepping for an eventual strike. They have backed down because negotiations went well and, as mentioned, Edwards made promises. But with the first budget proposal giving them nothing and the second budget proposal really just telling teachers they aren’t worth it, Edwards has just taken his second most powerful lobby (behind trial lawyers) and put them on the path to striking against their districts (and him).

If that happens, I don’t particularly blame them.



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