Education

Kemp Focuses On Education In First ‘State Of The State’ Address

On the campaign trail, Gov. Brian Kemp pledged to raise teacher pay by $5,000 a year. Thursday, he said that’s still the goal. 
On the campaign trail, Gov. Brian Kemp pledged to raise teacher pay by $5,000 a year. Thursday, he said that’s still the goal. 
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Gov. Brian Kemp included some big education initiatives in his State of the State address Thursday.

One of the most anticipated announcements was a $3,000 raise for teachers in 2020. On the campaign trail, Kemp pledged to raise teacher pay by $5,000 a year. Thursday, he said that’s still the goal.

“This is the largest pay increase for teachers in Georgia history,” Kemp said. “It serves as a sizable down payment on my promise to ultimately raise pay by $5000 dollars.”

Teachers’ groups praised the move.

“If it happens, and our teachers see this money in their pockets, I think everyone will be ecstatic about this, said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). “We’re just looking for the second part of it that was promised in the beginning.”

Booker added GAE would also like to see raises for paraprofessionals who assist teachers in the classroom.

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) also applauded Kemp’s proposal.

“The $3,000 increase for certified teachers is a significant step toward strengthening Georgia’s teacher pipeline by boosting recruitment and retention,” said PAGE Executive Director Craig Harper. “Georgia students cannot reach their full potential without ensuring that every student is taught by high-quality professional educators.”

PAGE went on to say it’s “essential” that Kemp fulfill his promise of $5000 a year. Kemp’s budget proposal would add the raises into the state salary schedule for teachers.

Kemp’s budget also allots $69 million for school security. Every public school will receive a $30,000 grant to enhance safety. The proposal also includes $8.4 million to put a mental health professional in every Georgia public high school. Kemp has also included full funding for the state’s Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula, something he pledged to do during the campaign.

State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods, a fellow Republican, praised Kemp’s education proposals.

“I wholeheartedly support Governor Kemp’s call for a $3,000 raise for teachers, and additional funding to come in subsequent years, along with his recommended school security and mental health funding,” Woods said in a statement. “From where I sit, Governor Kemp is hearing the concerns of Georgia educators, parents and students and taking them seriously. I look forward to working with him on these much-needed proposals.”