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House approves 3 percent teacher raise

Gov. Don Siegelman should be pleased.

The Alabama House on Thursday passed a $4.2 billion education budget that includes a 3 percent pay raise for teachers.

It’s an ambitious budget, particularly given the challenges of proration and education funding our state has faced during the past 18 months.

But, but shifting nearly $80 million from things like textbook and school supply expenditures, lawmakers found the money – at least on paper – to

fund the pay raises.

And that is what the governor wants.

During a recent visit to Troy, Siegelman urged lawmakers to pass that raise, calling a public "pat on the back" for the educators who invest their time in teaching children.

He’s right, of course, to want to reward teachers. And teachers, like private sector employees, deserve opportunities to increase their earnings.

But, we can’t continue to rob Peter to pay Paul, as the old adage goes.

Yes, Alabama’s teachers deserve pay raises.

But we also need to increase education funding, particularly in areas such as textbooks and school supplies, which were cut during last year’s budget.

And we need to resolve the ongoing debate over education funding.

If we want Alabama’s school children to have a truly excellent public education, then we as a state must be willing to pay for that education – from teacher pay raises to textbooks to facilities. And we need our elected officials – from legislators to the governor – to put aside politics and focus on real solutions.  

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