KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Governor Bill lee is backing a new bill that will increase teacher salaries here in Tennessee. The bill brought in front of the K-12 sub-committee Tuesday night is now making its way to the House Education Administration Committee.
The current base salary for teachers is just over $40,000 a year in Tennessee. The goal of this bill is to increase teachers’ salaries to $50,000 in the next three years. This would put Tennessee in the top 10 states across the country when it comes to teacher pay.
“I can’t imagine any community without a strong teacher base,” Knox County School board member Daniel Watson said. “We are losing our teachers left and right, and it’s not just because of funding and salaries. There are a lot of things that our teachers have had to navigate over the last few years with the pandemic. Pay helps, that’s kind of the baseline, we’ve got to that right and then we have to get everything else right on top of that.”
The Tennessee Teacher Paycheck Protection Act is an extension of recurring payments that started last year.
“This act is really a further investment in education in Tennessee,” Assistant Majority Leader Mark Cochran said. “I know last year you saw where we injected an extra $1 billion recurring each year and that’s with the new education funding formula. This is kind of continuing that effort, and we want to make sure that Tennessee teachers are offered competitive salaries.”
Some wish it would happen sooner than the proposed 2026-2027 school year because the teacher deficit will become more of a reality.
“If we don’t start paying teachers more we will find that we have less and less teachers and nobody will be happy with that,” Watson said. “All of us have been impacted by teachers, we are where we are because of teachers.”
Right now there is language in the bill that would make it difficult for teachers to join a union or association.
“The fact that they are putting that poison pill in the bill to keep teachers from being able to organize and work to have well-resourced classrooms across Tennessee is a serious problem,” State House Representative for District 90 Gloria Johnson said.
She added that a teacher’s teaching environment is a child’s learning environment and that should be taken into consideration when voting for this bill. The bill has passed through the K-12 sub-committee and is awaiting votes from the House Education Administration Committee.
The bill has passed through the K-12 sub-committee and is awaiting votes from the House Education Administration Committee.