On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp restated his commitment to giving teachers a $2,000 raise this year.
The governor made the comments after taking a tour of the Career Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program at McEachern High School in Cobb County.
Through CTAE, students can choose different career pathways, like health care or engineering. They take courses in their chosen pathways and can graduate with credentials, like a CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) license.
Of course, schools need strong teachers to sustain such programs. Kemp said that’s why he’s standing behind his proposal to give teachers more money.
“Everybody’s got their different priorities,” he said. “That’s what the session’s about. We look forward to working on those. But to me, the teacher pay raise, reducing testing so we allow these great teachers that you saw today do exactly what they were doing in the classroom — and that’s teach these kids and get them excited about things. That is our future. To me, that’s my No. 1 priority.”
On the campaign trail, Kemp pledged to raise teachers’ salaries by $5,000 a year. He gave teachers a $3,000 bump last year, calling it a “down payment” on the full amount.
Kemp has proposed giving teachers the remaining $2,000 this year. However, some lawmakers, including House Speaker David Ralston, have said this may not be the right time to give raises. Kemp has asked state agencies to cut their budgets 4% this fiscal year and 6% next year.
The raises would only include teachers funded by the state’s K-12 funding formula, called Quality Basic Education (QBE). Most Georgia school districts hire teachers beyond what the state finances. Districts would need to decide whether to give all of their teachers raises if the Legislature approves the expense. QBE was implemented in 1985. It has been updated slightly since then, but Kemp said it’s time to rethink it.
“I committed to doing that [updating QBE],” Kemp said. “We’re not going to move the goal posts too far too fast. We’re all going to work together on these things. So, we’re taking methodical steps on the pay raise, on testing, on standards and curriculum. As we continue to move down the road, we’ll be looking at the formula.”
Kemp has asked the Legislature to fully fund QBE this year. If lawmakers agree, it will be the third consecutive year the state has funded the formula at its current levels.