From Nancy Loome, executive director:
I got word last night that the Senate leadership plans to insert private school voucher language into the teacher pay raise bill. Inserting language so offensive to public school teachers could be seen as an attempt to kill the pay raise bill. It also might explain Lt. Governor Reeves’ comment last night that passing the teacher pay raise could be “challenging” because it requires passage of authorizing legislation (SB 2770) in addition to the appropriation.
What can be done?
• First, keep calling your legislators and tell them to INSIST on a $4,000 teacher pay raise and OPPOSE any voucher attempt.
• Second, make sure your legislators understand they have the power to reject a conference report and send it back to get it fixed.
Votes this week could make clear which legislators will go to the mat for public schools.
If the conference report for the teacher pay raise bill comes back with a voucher provision, it needs to be sent back with instructions to remove the voucher language. The same goes for a conference report that has a teacher pay raise lower than $4,000. Media is reporting that Speaker Gunn says a one-time $1,000 raise is being negotiated. REMINDER: this is one-quarter of the raise the House sent to the Senate. That’s a cave-in, not a negotiation.
Don’t accept these ridiculous moves from legislative leaders. Call, call, call!
There is sufficient revenue available to provide a $4,000 teacher pay raise AND pay raises for all state employees. Rank and file legislators should call on the leadership to stop pretending the money is not there, acknowledge ALL available revenue, and invest appropriately in our teachers.
Ask your legislators to INSIST on:
* a $4,000 teacher pay raise in SB 2770 *
* NO INCREASE in voucher funding in HB 1643 and NO vouchers in SB 2770 *
Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770. Additional contact info for legislators.
Share the same message with Speaker Philip Gunn, Capitol: 601.359.3300, and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, Capitol: 601.359.3200.
If legislators tell you they don’t have the ability to do anything about this, don’t believe it! They can do it, and they should. You elected them to do this job, and now it’s show time. They need to tell their leaders to acknowledge all of the available revenue and use that revenue (the taxes we all pay) to provide good pay to teachers and state employees.
I am hearing that rank and file legislators are angry that the leadership is trying to force them to choose between bad options. But bad options are not their only choices. Legislators in both parties and both chambers who are public school supporters should band together and insist on conference reports that move Mississippi and our public schools forward. They have the power to do so, and we are watching to see how they use it.
Please make those calls to the legislators who represent your school district. Tell your legislators that it is time to go to the mat for our public schools. Our children and their teachers are counting on us, and together, we’ve got this!