Increase teacher pay

Mississippi teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, would get a $4,250 pay raise spread out over four years under a bill approved by the state House of Representatives Wednesday.

The bill still must be considered by the Senate before it would become law, but prospects are considered pretty good.

Mississippi teachers earn the second lowest salary in the nation, an average of less than $42,000. The average starting salary in Mississippi is $30,900, compared to the average in the southeast of $32,500.

The national average for teacher pay is $56,383. The average is states that border Mississippi is $48,563.

Most everyone agrees that the state is having trouble attracting sufficient numbers of talented students to the teaching profession because the pay is considered low compared to other fields of endeavor.

What is a bit disconcerting is how the teacher pay raise has all of a sudden risen to the top of legislators’ priority list. Could it be politics? Of course.

Republicans have a slim majority in the House and some political strategists believe the party might lose control in the 2015 election unless something is done to bolster the state’s sorry record in support of public education.

Perhaps it is just coincidence that a $500 raise would take effect in January and another $1,000 in July of that year. The following two years increases would occur only if state revenues grow by more than 3 percent.

Whatever the motive, support of public education needs to increase in our state. This is one step.