The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

September 30, 2013

Teacher pay hike

Don’t let emotions rule the day when making decisions

— Getting a head start on the 2014 legislative session, the West Virginia Education Association last Monday launched a pre-emptive push for an increase in teacher pay.

WVEA President Dale Lee told reporters, “We’re losing ground.”

Lawmakers haven’t approved a salary adjustment in three years — they received an across-the-board raise of $1,488 in 2010.

According to Lee, the state has reached a critical point in keeping young teachers in West Virginia schools.

Of 1,500 of last year’s West Virginia college graduates with education degrees, little more that 400 stayed in the state to begin their careers.

Lee says that is because the pay is so much better in other states, including the five that border West Virginia.

Lee says the state currently ranks 48th in teacher compensation.

He added the reason for Monday’s press conference is to educate everyone — the governor, legislators and the public. In that way, he said, more people will see the need to ensure that classrooms have quality teachers.

We would be the last people to deny that teachers need more money — everyone in every job would like to have a raise.

Teachers aren’t the only ones who have gone years without a pay increase.

As the education association moves forward with their push, we just ask them to keep a few things in mind.

Where is the money for the raise going to be found? Will it be at the expense of other programs — other people?

Is it fair for teachers to get a raise if other workers are left out? What about school service personnel? Other state workers?

Does Lee or others in the profession have ideas about how a pay hike can be funded?

West Virginia managed to stay on a financially even keel during the tough years of the recession. But now there are worries about revenue shortfalls and expense reductions are the order of the day.

In comparing West Virginia teachers’ salaries to those in other states, is the difference in cost of living considered?

We are not saying teachers don’t deserve, or should not receive, a raise.

We just think all parties should proceed with caution, think with their heads and not let emotions rule the day.