Gov. Lee advocates for teacher pay raise during special session


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Governor Bill Lee said he hopes and believes that teachers receive a pay raise during a media conference call on Friday.

“It’s our hope and our belief that we will, and we will advocate for and work together with the General Assembly to make a way to provide for additional funding for teacher pay raises,” Lee said.

Lee said the discussion of pay raises might be discussed during the General Assembly’s special session on Jan. 19.

Tanya Coats, president of the Knox County Education Association, said it was about time for teachers to receive a raise.

“You know, teachers are still doing what was required of them before the pandemic, and now, and then some,” Coats said.

Coats said since the pandemic, it takes teachers at least three to six hours to plan for a one-hour lesson.

She said they can’t do all that while they are in the middle of a school day.

“They’re going to do what’s right for their kids every day, but they would even do more, well beyond, once they know they feel like they’re being appreciated. It’s just a sign of appreciation when you do what’s right,” Coats said.

On top of that, most of 2020 has been difficult for teachers.

Coats said teachers never really take a break over the summer, but especially not during the summer of 2020.

“The community has this wrong thought about educators that the summers are meant for our times off, because we don’t have kids in front of us. But, it’s actually a time for us to go back and be educated on some of the things that, to get us prepared for the next school year,” Coats said.

As most of us know now, teachers had to do a lot to prepare for fall 2020.

Coats said it might have been a little easier for teachers who had recently graduated to switch to virtual learning, but it sure wasn’t for most of those who’ve been educating for 10 or more years.

She said even if teachers were already technology inept, they still had to learn new software they’ve never used before, and know it well enough to help parents and students.

She said teachers have been putting their lives on the line every day to educate students during a pandemic.

Coats said teachers deserve more than a raise.

“So besides him giving us a raise it’s time for a bonus and a raise for all the extra days we have done,” Coats said.

“We have done our jobs and we’re asking the governor to consider that we just don’t need a little raise. We need that 10% raise,” Coats also said.

Coats said another reason for a higher raise plus a bonus is because lawmakers or the governor have promised raises before, and they broke those promises.

“When you promise that you’re going to do something, let’s do it every year, and we haven’t done that in the state of Tennessee,” Coats said.

Coats said she knows the money is there.

She just hopes lawmakers appreciate educator’s work enough to give them what they deserve.

“We’re really watching and waiting to make sure that you really care about us too,” Coats said.

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