Governor John Bel Edwards says his number one legislative priority for 2019 is getting Louisiana teachers a $1,000 pay raise, and school support workers a $500 pay raise. Bayou State educators are paid noticeably less than their southern counterparts, and Edwards says we need to start catching up. “We have lost ground to the southern average. Ten years ago we were paying teachers at the southern average, today we are 2,200 dollars below that.”

The average pay in 2015-1016 for a teacher in Louisiana is $49,900. The national average is $58,000.

Edwards says that lagging pay is responsible for the state’s difficulty in obtaining and retaining qualified and committed educators.

“35 percent of our students are being taught by teachers who are not certified, or not certified the subject they are teaching. We know that the number one ingredient for quality education is to have a highly motivated teacher.”

61 percent of Louisiana teachers in a recent survey said that would support a strike for better pay.

Edwards says he plans to pay for the raise with increased revenue from an improving economy, but those plans have been stalled after House Speaker Taylor Barras blocked a revenue forecast increase. Barras says he supports the raise, and Edwards believes he’s not trying to block the raise, but says paying for the raise without an increase forecast would be difficult.

“I don’t believe that that is what he is trying to do, and I certainly hope that’s not what he is trying to do. It doesn’t serve the people of Louisiana, and I know the education community would not be pleased with that, but it makes (getting the raise) much more difficult.”