Delaware’s teacher union is calling for educators and specialists to flood the Monday, Dec. 12, meeting of a teacher pay committee to pressure its members into giving raises to teachers this year instead of waiting for two years.
The Public Education Compensation Committee voted last week to stick to a timeline that allows it to wait until Nov. 15, 2023, to make recommendations to Gov. John Carney for teacher pay hikes.
That would put the first raises into the 2025 state budget, which takes effect July 1, 2024.
“You MUST make your voice heard!,” said Stephanie Ingram, president of the Delaware State Education Association, in an email to teachers. “The lack of public comment from educators on this topic led committee members to believe you don’t care about salary increases.”
That meeting will be at 3:30 p.m. Stream it live here.
The compensation committee, authorized through Senate Bill 100, is tasked with evaluating and making recommendations to the state in order to provide teachers with a salary that’s competitive with neighboring states.
Along with evaluating teacher pay, the bill calls for an analysis of salaries for educational support professionals such as bus drivers and custodians.
While teacher in Delaware typically make less than teachers in neighboring states, the First State’s educational support professionals have the second highest salary in America when comparing their pay in other states, according to the National Education Association. Their average annual salary is $44,044, just $98 less than Alaska, who pays their support staff the highest average salary of $44,142.
There has also been discussion about evaluating administrator pay and if/when they should get raises.
Jon Neubauer, director of education policy at DSEA, said the reason why the union is focusing on teachers and specialists’ pay is because the state has legislated and prioritized addressing the shortage of those workers.
He called the state hypocritical for passing legislation to create a deeper pipeline of teachers and specialists at the same time they deny requests for salary raises that could attract those professions to the state.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “So on one hand, everybody is raising concerns about student achievement scores, but then on the other hand, this committee is basically giving the impression that addressing the teacher shortage and addressing the specialist shortage is something that we can kick down the road.”
The DSEA already has recommended to the committee that teacher pay be raised over three years from $44,937 to $60,000 a year for a starting teacher.
That would require the state to bring its share of a new teacher’s pay to $42,000 from $30,769 since they pay about 70% of the teacher salaries. The other 30% comes from local funds.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have said increasing base pay will make the First State a more attractive place to teach, which could help create a deeper pipeline of educators.
Delaware schools started the 2022-23 school year with hundreds of teacher and staff vacancies.
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New Jersey and Maryland already plan to raise teacher pay, with Maryland setting a $60,000 salary for new teachers.
The committee’s recommendations may be considered for the governor’s recommended budget for fiscal year 2025, which the General Assembly gets its first look at in January 2024.
“Your voice will help to get the word out that you want action NOW, not in a few years,” Ingram said in her email.
While the Delaware State Education Association showed support throughout the process of the bill’s implementation, it doesn’t want to wait until 2025 for changes.
One Facebook comment pointed out that many teachers are still on the clock working at 3:30 p.m., when the compensation meetings start, so it’s hard for them to show up and give public comments.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
Jarek can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 450-9982. Follow him on Twitter @jarekrutz
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