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Alabama Lawmaker Calls for Keeping Teacher Pay Low Out of 'Biblical Principle


"attract people who aren't called to teach."

An Alabama state senator made headlines this week when he said teacher pay should not be raised out of "biblical principle."

"Teachers need to make the money that they need to make. There needs to be a balance there," State Sen. Shadrack McGill said during a prayer breakfast Monday, the Dekalb County Times-Journal reported. "It's a biblical principle. If you double a teacher's pay scale, you'll attract people who aren't called to teach."

McGill, a Republican, continued, "And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It's just in them to do. It's the ability that God give 'em."

His comments came in response to a question about a legislative pay hike passed by his predecessors in 2007. According to the Times-Journal, McGill defended the raise -- which increased his salary as a part-time legislator 62 percent to $49,500 -- by saying that paying lawmakers more makes them less tempted to take bribes.

"There are also some teachers, it wouldn't matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity," he said. "If you don't keep that in balance, you're going to attract people who are not called, who don't need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance."

After his remarks gained national attention, McGill attempted to clarify them, saying he had been misunderstood.

"My reference to biblical principle was in reference to things being in balance," McGill told the Times-Journal Friday. "I apologize that people took that to mean that I was saying that not getting teachers a raise was biblical principle. I have said many times that I hope to see teachers getting at least a cost-of-living raise soon."

That didn't stop Alabama Democrats from reacting strongly to McGill's comments, with state Democratic Chairman Mark Kennedy saying he was "stunned" that McGill "would use biblical teachings as an excuse to attack public teachers’ salaries."

“Apparently a pay raise in exchange for ‘raising someone’s child for eight hours a day,’ as he puts it, might draw wicked people into our schools…but somehow a 62 percent raise is supposed to keep wicked people out of our legislature," Kennedy told Alabama ABC affiliate WAAY-TV.

"Maybe the Senator could offer me some remedial Sunday school classes,” he continued. “But I wasn’t aware ‘you cannot serve both God and money’ only applied to public school teachers. I don’t think educators are the only ones who need to be called to serve, and Senator McGill’s lack of faith in his colleagues isn’t doing much to inspire confidence in his abilities as a legislator.”

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