MONROE, La. (KNOE) – Richland Parish Representative Francis Thompson is working towards improving Louisiana’s schools through offering higher salaries and better-funded education for those who wish to become educators in order to lessen the teacher shortage.
The latest data shows Louisiana is in the bottom half of southern states regarding teacher pay. Thompson said that getting certified teachers is a two-pronged approach – including offering higher wages.
“We need more money in the school systems,” Thompson said. “More money for teachers. More money for workers within the schools. Bus drivers and others. ”
Lawmakers gave teachers a $ 1,500 raise, and Thompson said he hopes Louisiana will reach the southern national average next year.
“It’s just a small amount below the average, but I’m always trying to get them more money,” Thompson said. “But they are competitive with the South.”
Another part of Thompson’s approach is incentivizing those who want to become teachers to go to school and helping them through their studies.
Thompson, who spent decades as an educator, authored a bill signed by Governor John Bel Edwards that provides scholarships for those seeking to become teachers.
“The way they can join us, [is] they can go back to school, ”said Thompson. “We will pay their tuition.”
Thompson said that the scholarship money could also go towards those who are in school for fields other than teaching but would like to switch and renew their interest in becoming educators.
Thompson addressed a pair of bills vetoed by Governor Edwards that would have allowed students who read below grade level or those with certain disabilities to take state education money to pay for private schools.
“It’s not a bad thing if you are able to find a good school that is able to teach, but I like what we have today,” said Thompson.
Thompson voted in favor of both bills that would have reallocated state funds for private schools.
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