Jared Henderson, the Democratic candidate for governor, today proposed a major investment in teacher pay, which was promptly dismissed by the Hutchinson campaign as the proposal of an out-of touch liberal.

Henderson, who once led Teach for America in Arkansas, has proposed a 10 percent increase in minimum teacher pay, currently no lower than $31,800, and then increase it 3.6 percent for each of the next nine years.

He figured the first two years would cost $160 million and affect 163 small school districts. It would require an increase of more than 3 percent in the state education budget, a budget that has been pinched in recent years by legislative reductions in what its research staff has estimated was necessary to cover inflationary cost increases and meet the suffiency demands of the Supreme Court’s Lakeview decision.

Henderson figures the plan would require an additional $500 million in 10 years behind inflationary growth. How to pay for it?


Over time, this can be paid for by reallocating Hutchinson’s promised tax breaks for the wealthy, lowering the cost of corrections spending, and allotting collected internet state sales tax.

A spokesman for the Hutchinson campaign responded this way to KARK:

Hutchinson until now has been fixated on cutting state spending and reducing taxes, goals that don’t lend themselves to big increases in teacher pay. There are wide variations in teacher pay because pay is based in part on district wealth. The poorest districts, which inevitably have the neediest students, have a hard time competing.


Henderson talked about more than pay. The full release is here.

He said he wanted to make Arkansas the best state in the country to be a teacher.

“Teachers lead the profession that creates all other professions, and for too long they’ve been underpaid, overworked, and unappreciated. My comprehensive plan makes Arkansas the best state in the country to be a public school teacher. Without investing in our teachers, Arkansas’s public schools will continue to be toward the bottom of every national ranking,” Henderson said.

“This plan also focuses on addressing the widespread discrepancies we see in the teaching profession among school districts across the state, ranging from teacher pay to teacher
retention and support. If we are going bring high-quality education to every part of Arkansas, it starts with having the best and the brightest in our classrooms, particularly in rural and low-income communities. Over time, more equitable education in Arkansas will also lead to a stronger economy and workforce.”