Louisiana is currently facing a teacher shortage and many believe it has to do with their salaries. Teachers in Louisiana make an average of $49,000 a year, nearly $10,000 less than the national average.
Justin Hawkins is a high school English teacher who dreams of being an educator for the rest of his career. Given his current salary in Louisiana, he's not sure he can make that dream a reality. Hawkins took on a second job in order to pay his bills and still provide basic resources for his students.
"I buy the pencils, I buy the paper, I buy the supplies," Hawkins said. "Last year I may have spent $500 to $1,000 on supplies for my 7th grade class and that was completely out of my pocket."
Porscha Williams had a passion for teaching as well, but had to step out of the classroom in order to make enough money to support herself financially.
"I would still be a teacher if I felt like I could make a sustainable wage that would grow with me as my lifestyle grew and changed and that just wasn't the case," Williams said.
With more and more teacher's like Williams realizing a teaching career means financial instability, Louisiana is left with a teacher shortage. In an attempt to address this problem, Governor John Bel Edwards proposed giving all teachers a thousand dollar raise in next year's budget. Jessie Isidore is the President of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers. He's been tracking the impact budget cuts have had on education across the state.
"I know the governor is working on that, I'm encouraged he wants to invest in education, the critical question is what will the state legislature do?" Isidore asked.
As for former and current teachers, they say an extra $80 a month won't change the financial strain of being an educator.
"I think $1,000 is a nice gesture and a nice start but it is a gesture and it is a start," Williams said.
She already made the difficult decision to step out of the classroom. Hawkins wants to continue teaching but he's not sure how much longer he can make it work.
"My student loans, my rent, my food, my responsibilities," Hawkins listed. "It's just so much and it only goes so far."
The Governor's proposed pay raise would mark only the second time Louisiana teacher's have been given a raise in the last decade.