Statewide survey shows support for teacher pay raises and minimum wage increase

BATON ROUGE – Researchers in the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication found the majority of Louisianans – 88 percent – support raising teacher salaries, and the majority – 81 percent – also support an increased minimum wage of $8.50 an hour.

Two-thirds of Louisiana residents report that they have a good deal of confidence or a very great deal of confidence in the state’s public school teachers, although three quarters of people surveyed believe teachers earn less than they actually earn.

“These results show very strong, nearly unanimous, support for public school teachers and an appetite for pay increases—an issue that will likely be raised during the legislative session that just kicked off yesterday; however, there is more partisan division on whether the state should raise taxes to fund a pay increase for public school teachers.” Michael Henderson, director of the Public Policy Research Lab, said.

The Louisiana Survey is aimed at revealing how people from all areas of the state view Louisiana government and its policies. The survey, conducted by PPRL interviewers between Feb. 15 and March 7, polled 917 Louisianans age 18 or older from across the state. The total sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points.

Additional findings from the third of six reports shows these key findings on teacher pay:

  • Support for raising public school teacher salaries is nearly unanimous among Louisiana residents, with 88 percent backing a pay raise. Raising teacher pay has broad consensus across political parties. More than 90 percent of Democrats and independents support boosting teacher salaries, as do 80 percent of Republicans.
  • There is less support – and more partisan division – on the question of raising taxes to fund the raise. Overall, framing the issue in terms of tax costs to cover the raise cuts support to 63 percent.
  • Three-fourths of state residents (75 percent) underestimate average teacher pay in Louisiana (they think teachers earn less than they actually earn).
  • There is more support for uniform pay raises across the board than for proposals to give larger raises to teachers who work in schools or subjects with teacher shortages. Only 25 percent of participants prefer giving larger salary increases to teachers who work in schools with teacher shortages and smaller increases to teachers in other schools. Just 26 percent prefer larger pay raises for teachers in subjects with teacher shortages and smaller raises for teachers in other subjects.
  • Two-thirds (68 percent) of Louisiana residents have either a “good deal” of confidence or a “very great deal” of confidence in the state’s public school teachers.
  • Thirty-nine percent of state residents grade their local public schools with an A (12 percent) or B (27 percent). In contrast, only 25 percent grade public schools across the state with an A (five percent) or B (20 percent). At the same time, 80 percent of residents want to increase state spending on public schools in Louisiana as a whole, but the share drops to 67 percent when asked about increasing state spending for public schools in their own local districts.

Key results from Louisiana Survey on raising the minimum wage include:

  • Four in five Louisiana residents (81 percent) support a minimum wage of $8.50 an hour.
  • The proposal is popular among Democrats (94 percent), independents (78 percent), and Republicans (72 percent).
  • Support for a minimum wage drops to 59 percent when it is set as $15.00 an hour, and only Democrats maintain majority support (85 percent).
  • Just 44 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents support a minimum wage of $15.00 an hour.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted annually for the last 18 years, establishing rich longitudinal measures of public opinion in Louisiana. The survey is a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the Manship School of Mass Communication. Read the full third report from the Louisiana Survey here: http://pprllsu.com/projects/