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Column: It’s the right time to raise teachers’ compensation


As Alabamians, we pride ourselves on being supportive of our neighbors, communities, and most importantly, our children. Doing the best we can for Alabama’s children is a topic that usually brings even the most polarized individuals together for the common good.

AEA Executive Director Amy Marlowe

“A rising tide lifts all boats” is what we believe when efforts are debated to bring opportunity and hope to Alabama’s students. As the executive director of the Alabama Education Association, maintaining the status quo has never been the focus of our association. Our mission is to always innovatively advocate for the support of rank-and-file educators who dedicate their lives to educating the next generation. Surrounding Alabama’s children who attend our local schools with the most capable educators and professional staff helps prepare them to compete in a global market while pursuing the American Dream.

AEA has been very engaged in the debate on the CHOOSE Act, which was passed by both houses of the Alabama Legislature and signed by Gov. Kay Ivey last Thursday. While the bill could be better in some significant ways, our team helped lead the effort to improve it while substantively engaging with members of the Legislature. Sometimes, being at the table to make legislation more effective, especially when it focuses on the needs of students, is better than reflexively being in opposition.

AEA supports parents in making choices for their children that may impact the rest of their lives. Our association passionately advocates for all families to have that ability.

However, AEA also believes Education Trust Fund (ETF) resources should be used to provide more funding for pre-K enrichment, equip all public-school buses with air conditioning so our students don’t suffer during hot summer months, and ensure Alabama’s teachers are compensated at levels reflecting their critical importance to our children’s development.

Let’s focus on what matters most for our children enrolled in public schools to overcome the current challenges many school systems face. Gov. Ivey has boldly stated her desire to make Alabama one of the best states in America for teachers to work and live. Currently, Alabama teachers fall behind their neighboring peers in compensation, and now is the time to match their commitment to our children with better compensation.

AEA supports Gov. Ivey’s recommendation for a minimum compensation level for all teachers of $47,600. Raising the minimum salary for teachers to this level will aid in recruitment, retention, and longevity.

Today, more is expected of our teachers than ever before. Managing multiple classes, processing mountains of paperwork, and making schools safe places for children is not a job; it is a calling. Providing better compensation for our teachers is the right thing to do at the right time for so many unsung heroes in our Alabama classrooms.

Let’s do what is long overdue for those who give so much to our students. Let’s choose to do what is right by supporting Gov. Ivey’s push to prioritize teacher compensation while strengthening all of our local school systems. The real choice is ours to make.

Marlowe is the executive director of the Alabama Education Association

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