Monday, May 16, 2016

Suits gonna suit. Want a raise, go to MDE.

Dr. Carey Wright passed out raises by the bushel to MDE employees over the last two years.  The legislature gave MDE a two-year exemption from State Personnel Board policies in 2014 so Dr. Wright could cut costs and streamline the agency.  Dr. Wright used the exemption to give 331 salary increases to 247 employees. The salaries increases are posted below.   MDE asked the legislature to extend the exemption for another year.  The legislature passed the extension (HB #199) but Governor Phil Bryant vetoed the bill.  He cited the widespread salary increases as the main reason for his veto.

A little Sparrow gave JJ a copy of a report on the salary increases that was submitted to the Governor.  The report states that the average salary increased by $3,551 year.  One new deputy superintendent's initial salary was $195,000.  MDE classified 32 raises as salary increases and 67 as intra-agency promotions.  The average increase for the intra-agency promotions was $10,690.  However, the total annual costs of the raises is projected to cost approximately $1.5 million per year.

 Here are the raises:

Click on images to enlarge

Governor Bryant stated in his veto message:

the Mississippi Department of Education appears to have increased the overall costs of its administrative functions through handsome raises for existing employees and high salaries for new employees....

Since July 1, 2014, the Mississippi Department of Education has awarded 331 increases in salary to 247 employees working within the agency.  Some salary increases were $20,000 or more.  In addition to employee raises, the Mississippi Department of Education has made 203 new hires and has even set salaries as high as $195,000, which is well over the statutory maximum.
JJ contacted Dr. Wright's office and awaits a response.  This post will be updated if one is received.  

Kingfish note:  Removing an agency from State Personnel Board policies so a director has the power to cut costs and reduce the size of the agency.  The intent of such an action is not to give the director the power to pass out raises and jobs.


Anonymous said...

WOW. That agency has traditionally been one of the worst in state government. Even before these raises, their salaries were substantially in excess of that paid by other agencies for comparable jobs. The educational bureaucracy complex is a major problem in state government. Its all about the adults, not the children.

Anonymous said...

Looks like ol' Carey Wright hoodwinked them legislators pretty damn good. Another story you'll never read in Donner's Jackson Fawning Press. Sure hope Nancy Loomatic will drop by and opine that what we have here is a straight up money problem. Yup.

Anonymous said...

and there's no money for teachers or supplies.... thanks to the
Governor for putting his foot down here!

Kingfish said...

Let's see if MS Today covers this. Ok, Patsy, this is your exam.

Anonymous said...

But we need to keep throwing more and more of the state budget to education....

Anonymous said...


Money going to education and money going to MDE are two totally different things.

Kingfish said...

Not disagreeing with you.

Anonymous said...

I visited my grandson's high school today and the principal says he is having to lay off four teachers next money. The parking lot looks like a Jackson street and there is no money for books. The teachers copy "study guides' for the kids to work from. !2:07 hit it on the head. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, why don't you do a request for the names that go with all these raises? That would be a real eye-opener as well. Back in 2010 MSPB published a list of all the salaries in state government over $75,000/year. All these MDE raises would blow up that 2010 list quite a bit. Moreover, in the State of Alabama, the salary paid to EVERY SINGLE STATE EMPLOYEE is available on a public website. Wonder whether Mississippi will ever permit that?

Anonymous said...

Wow. Some of these salaries basically doubled in 2 years. How can this be possible for ANY government agency? A teacher may get a 5% raise but an education bureau director II (whatever that is) gets a 78% raise on top of their already high salary. This is BS.

Anonymous said...

Carey Wright has no say in state public school education, but she sure as heck can give out some raises! I'm very shocked that an appointed government official making $305k per year would give her friends and colleagues the hookup.

Wow said...


If you want to be a real journalist, why don't you find out MDE's justification for the salary raises instead of playing the very easy populist game of "bugh bugh look at this agency giving raises! I know my readers and I hate government so check this out, you'll hate this!" to try an incite reactions.

It seems you have taken the first step by reaching out to them.

I don't think your goal is anarchy, right? There is a role to be played by government, especially in administrating the education of our children. Here's to hoping you try and use your visible position to do an in-depth transformative piece on the subject of MDE State employees, and what we can do as taxpayers to attract high quality talent to the State and keep it there for all of our benefit.

Anonymous said...

Who has the authority to send this woman packing? Serious question.

Anonymous said...

Remember, the Grand Ole Party says we can find road maintenance funds simply by squeezing the fat out of other areas. Think how many potholes we could fix with all those raises.

Anonymous said...

I don't think your goal is anarchy, right?

Mine is ! CCP?

Anonymous said...

May 16, 2016 at 3:18 PM = Yaawwwwwnnnnnn, SsSSssnnnooorreeee, ZZZZZZZzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

You need more than a spreadsheet to tell the whole story (which I will admit doesn't look good at first glance). I know when MDE hired the Literacy Coaches for Reading Gate the salaries were too low to be attractive to teachers with either advanced degrees or NBCT's. Instead, they attracted people who had been in the classroom for 2-3 years who saw an opportunity to get out of the classroom and make more money. So now you have inexperienced teachers going into classrooms telling experienced teachers how to teach reading when many of them were never in an early childhood classroom. So, sometimes there are legitimate reasons for paying more on the front end. Yes, reading scores have gone up marginally but that has more to do with one on one tutoring occurring over the summer and after school than the literacy coaches.

Anonymous said...

WTH!!!!! I'm a State Employee and I haven't had a pay raise in 8 years. Maybe I picked the wrong division.

Anonymous said...

3:35 - The State Board of Education. A nine member board who's members' appointments are spread out over a multi-year period, making it virtually impossible for any one person to have much influence over it.

Five members by the Governor - but one has to be employed as a school administrator and one that is employed as a public school teacher. (Fox guarding the henhouse??) The Lt Gov gets two appointees and the Speaker gets two. But these appointments are for nine years making any one person to even put his/her impact on the board virtually impossible. For example, one of the two positions that is appointed by Speaker was appointed by Speaker McCoy. Both of the two LG appointee members were appointed prior to Reeves.

This structure was created by the reforms of 1982 - something that needed to be done at the time. But it is time to go back and reform it again. Don't care who the Governor is at the time, that is the person that gets blamed for the condition of education in the state. But the Governor has little or no control over it, but rather a nameless very highly paid bureaucrat hired by a group of people none of us know. One of the top five highest paid state employees and nobody outside of the establishment knows her name. And nobody knows the people that hired her.

Wow said...


That's fine. I am glad someone incapable of reading two paragraphs, comprehending, and then discussing (whether in agreement or not) will never be in a position to make impactful decisions. You're a great message board warrior, though.

I was told that same feedback by teachers in several under-performing districts. My best friend was telling me about a consultant in their district who came in to try and give a workshop about teaching writing and that it was embarrassing. The English Department at the school led negative feedback and the teachers pushed back against wasting money on such a consultant. Now the English teachers are teaching everyone else themselves.

This is just an individual example of small positive progress. The hard question is, how do you put a framework in place (policy) that leads to SYSTEMATIC positive outcomes.

It's overwhelming to think about where to even start.

-Consolidate school districts?
-Change election of Superintendents to appointment by board (done)
-Now, how do you stop the nepotism and corruption of school board members?
-How do you attract high quality talent to be a literary coach to follow your example, or even, at the level of MDE, a program administrator who really wants to implement impactful programs to better our education status at the lowest cost and highest impact for taxpayers?

Kingfish said...

I called and sent an email as well. I have not heard back from Dr. Wright or any of her representatives. I'm not going to break my neck trying to get a quote out of them either. She had no problem writing the Clarion-Ledger and complaining about their coverage. If there is another side or a needed clarification, I would have been happy to include it.

Of course, I might catch her with a camcorder and ask some questions the next time she eats breakfast at Primos on Lakeland.

Laurie B. said...

My best friend, who is an in-depth, research driven, transformative expert on everything, just dropped me a note and said you aren't in a position "to make impactful decisions" 4:44, er, Wow, nor know anything about being a "real journalist".

Get over low quality talent self.

Wow said...

Laurie B: Take a lap and try again. What you wrote does not even make sense.

Thanks for the update, KingFish. I do hope that they do not shy away from a response.

Anonymous said...

When liberals do something for "the children" hide your pocket book if you can.

Anonymous said...

1:08 - When did teachers get a 5% raise?

Anonymous said...

6:06 nailed it.

Anonymous said...

Guess which department is on the chopping block in the 2017 legislature session? They will pay dearly for the raises this year.

Much like the Mental Health gang...they thought everyone had forgotten the OH and DMH "partnership". Hahaha. Then crying they have a crisis! How about all the money they blew on travel, food, furniture, and a credit card!

MDE will see the same scrutiny next year.

Anonymous said...


Paging Jay Hughes, Mr. Hughes, you are needed to gives us an explanation. It looks like "it all starts with RAISES" there Jay.

Can't wait to see how the Douche of Oxford handles this one.

Anonymous said...

6:06 Republicans in the house and senate approved those raises before Phil vetoed the latest ones.

Jeff Smith said these raises were necessary to attract the best and brightest to the MDE. Meanwhile, teachers' aides/assistants bring home a cool $28k per year.

Anonymous said...

I worked for MDE for almost 20 years--thus, the following truisms:

1) These raises and promotions come in cycles. Raises, scrutiny, criticism, firings, culminating in an article in the CL stating how much the Supt. (Burnham, Wright, etc.) is saving the state.
2) The main objective of the high-paying bureaucrats at MDE is to keep their jobs. They preach 'student outcomes' but that is not their focus.
3) Under SPB or not, depending on who you are or who wants it for you, a high-paying position will be available.
4) There are a few loyal, poorly-paid employees at MDE who do most of the work and are never compensated adequately for their effort and talent.
5) MDE refuses to promote or increase the salary of competent, hard-working staff but will upgrade their positions and pay unproven strangers a higher salary to attract someone to do all the work the competent employee was doing. I have seen this over and over.
6) The following MDE offices are comprised of 100% African American females: Human Resources & Budget. There may be more I am unaware of. (What an outcry there would be if white women were in charge).
7) Carey Wright's 'posse' consists of John Porter, Washington Cole, and Pete Smith. (She LOVES black men!) Check the January SBE minutes to see the salaries Cole and Smith were given. You don't get to Carey without going thru one or all of them. Cole is nothing more than a glorified Hoke to Carey's Miss Daisy.
8) Young black women abound at MDE, many of them put in place by the former racist HR Director Ethel Carson. She found jobs for many of her preacher husband's congregants. 'Work' there is a social occasion, an opportunity to get dressed up, visit and have lunch with their friends every day. There is always one person in each office who cares enough to redo these social butterflies' work before it leaves the office.
9) If you do poor work, work is removed from you. If you do good work, more work is given to you to do.

MDE is a depressing and oppressing place to be. Government work, in many cases, is another form of welfare.

Anonymous said...

Mikula has always been tone deaf. Maybe she can pen a JFP or C-L column before she gets canned. Because she's DONE.

Anonymous said...

I worked for MDE for almost 20 years--thus, the following truisms:

Prove it.

Anonymous said...

@4:44 I'm not sure but I would like to try a moratorium on consultants for a couple of years and see what happens. There are good consultants but there are far too many inept ones. Somehow we have lost the idea that teachers are the best practitioners of their craft and most of the time they can more adequately lead/mentor other teachers. However, I am seeing that because of the use of canned curriculum and programs that more and more teachers haven't honed the skill set of curriculum development- or, if they have they are scared to implement it because the risk is too high with assessments. If something doesn't work immediately, or every time, teachers are at risk.

As to salaries, I know there were many layoffs in Wright's first year. Some of them were very needed. I think we need more description to know what these positions do and where we are marked to the year before her arrival. I know there have been some outside hires with strong backgrounds and if it takes a truckload of money to get someone in here who can actually update MSIS and some of these other old, clunky programs then it will be worth the cost in the time savings at the district level. I'm certainly not saying that is applicable to all these hires, but I feel like it is to some. We need to know job descriptions and market for these positions before casting stones. Believe it or not, MDE hires accountants, tech people and other positions who weren't making 40,000 in a classroom and happy to make 5,000 a year more. Some of these people are coming from outside of education and their pay scales are relevant. If they are doing a good job then they should be paid like it. If evidence exists that they aren't then get rid of them.

And, the Legislature will likely make hay out of this next year whether it is viable or not, but many of them will be doing it while living out of their campaign accounts that they want no oversight of while "punishing" state agencies who dare to disagree with them.

Anonymous said...

The prior comment regarding salary was an excellent one, "Kingfish, why don't you do a request for the names that go with all these raises? That would be a real eye-opener as well. Back in 2010 MSPB published a list of all the salaries in state government over $75,000/year." Then the public will know the who to match the how much..

Anonymous said...

Publish the names of all employees making $75,000 and up. Consider publishing the salary that they came from too.

Run From Daylight said...

9:11 - DISprove it. Sounds entirely plausible to me that he/she worked there. Points are on point. Are you one of the roaches that hates daylight?

Mark To And Such Yes said...

What the hell does this mean, 9:27?

I think we need more description to know what these positions do and where we are marked to the year before her arrival.

You are obviously one of the employees sitting over there at SDE looking at your watch. Please tell us you never were assigned to a classroom full of scholars.

Anonymous said...

At 9:01 PM. Yes! All of this!

7 year alum here, applied for the next PIN up from me and was told in the interview that I was the most qualified applicant, but the other guy had earned it since he had been there longer". I was told early in my career that I was not the "corporate color" and that I was going to be stuck where I was. I didn't want to believe it, after all Steve, John, and several other white men were in positions of authority. It took me several years to realize those positions had nothing to do with talent or ability. :(

Anonymous said...

KF - May want to take a look at MDE's new office digs out in Clinton. After the fire downtown I hear the Queen wants to stay in her nice new digs and not move back.

Guess her driver doesnt like the potholes.

Anonymous said...

These comments reveal the absolute fabric of most government workers. No doubt some new hires enter their new job with a willingness to produce only to "piled on" or shamed into slowing down and doing things the "government way".

It's too bad that a "Trump" figure from the private world cannot effect change and make workers efficient throughout the rants. Unfortunately, the belly of the sow keeps swelling larger and larger.

Anonymous said...

Are we talking about MDE or UMMC?

Anonymous said...

Never heard of 'applying for the next PIN up'. That's an odd concept. Whoever heard of getting a pay increase by 'applying to get one'. You apply for open positions, not for a pay increase.

Anonymous said...

That's what the PIN position was. Each job has a PIN associated with it.

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