LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The fight continues for higher teacher pay in Arkansas.
Thursday morning a group of educators gathered at the Arkansas State Capitol demanding a discussion about pay increases be a part of the upcoming special session.
“Why are we here? Why do we continue to have to fight for teachers?” said Central High School teacher Kimberly Crutchfield.
Dressed in red, a group of Arkansas educators sat in on Thursday morning’s Arkansas Legislative Council meeting.
As the meeting pressed on, a discussion about teacher bonuses came to the floor.
State lawmakers voted with a 2/3 majority on a recommendation to award teachers with $5,000 one-time bonuses.
Some representatives saw the move as a step toward higher pay for teachers, but others say they saw it as a diversion.
“A right now bonus is not the same as right pay for teachers,” said Little Rock teacher Leron McAdoo.
“I don’t expect to make $120,000 but I expect to be able to pay my car bill and to live in a nice, safe area,” said Crutchfield.
Crutchfield started in the classroom 23 years ago. She says her first paycheck was $600.
“I had to drop my insurance until I go up to a step where I could afford the insurance,” said Crutchfield.
She says she began advocating for higher pay shortly after.
More than two decades later, she’s still fighting the same fight.
“We knew we weren’t going to be millionaires, but we didn’t think we would have to go on public assistance either,” said Crutchfield.
The group of teachers said it’s a fight they won’t give up on until it makes it to the Capitol.
Governor Asa Hutchinson still can put a salary increase on the agenda for the special session in August. If he doesn’t, educators say they will fight for it to be put on the agenda in January.