Texas teachers are expressing mixed emotions over a nearly $4 billion dollar package headed to the state Senate to give full-time educators a $5,000 a year pay raise.
Teachers in the Lone Star State earned an average $53,000 base pay in 2018, but Zeph Capo with the Houston Federation of Teachers says that pales in comparison with other states.
“We need to at least be paid at a minimum decent wage in comparison with many states that are a lot less well off than our state, are able to do for their teachers,” he says.
Capo says some teachers supplement their incomes with weekend or side jobs, often times driving for ride sharing companies.
“Most of our teachers that are out there get that they're not going to get rich and they get that they're not going to have big salaries, but they want to still be able to feed their families and still be able to make a difference for the kids that they teach every day.”
Lonnie Hollingsworth, general counsel for the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, says too many teachers are fleeing to other states or leaving the field altogether.
“Part of the reason to increase salaries is to retain the ones that are in there, and also to attract the best and brightest to that profession so we can continue to have excellent teachers,” says Hollingsworth.
Some teacher groups say the legislation doesn't go far enough, because it excludes many full-time and part-time staffers. They're lobbying for additional state funding for public schools to offset any changes in revenue do to possible property tax reform.
“Librarians, counselors and full-time nurses, they're generally included in the same category of personnel as teachers, so we would hope they will be included,” Hollingsworth added.
Texas lawmakers also are considering a merit pay proposals to pay higher performing teachers even more.