Will Louisiana teachers finally come closer to the Southern average on pay? If Gov. John Bel Edwards has his way, it could come closer to the average next year.    

Gov. Edwards made it official Monday that he plans to push for state lawmakers to approve a pay raise for teachers in 2019.

The raise is overdue for public-school K-12 educators whose pay has fallen below the average over the past eight years.

State teachers earn an average salary of $49,244 annually, compared to a regional average of $50,949. The national average is $58,064.

The lower-than-average pay across the state, coupled with extra demand on teachers, has resulted in fewer applicants for teaching jobs in public school systems, including Livingston Parish.

Livingston and other parishes have managed well in spite of the shortage, as we have seen with test scores that consistently put our school system among the Top 10 in the state -- and with less financial resources than other parishes.

It has not been the case in other parishes, particularly in rural parishes with a lower-than-average per capita income and minimal tax base.

The $1,000 per year pay raise would not amount to a fortune -- less than $83 per year before taxes -- but any upward mobility represents a step in the right direction.

The pay hike for teachers deserves strong consideration in the Legislature next year. Education is the cornerstone investment in our future, both in terms of our young people and our communities.

The shortage of teachers will only grow worse as teacher pay dips further below the Southern and national average. It’s time to reverse the trend and ensure that we pay teachers a better salary so we can improve the quality of education for the future of our state. 

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