Bill would give Texas teachers a $5,000 raise

There is a proposal in the Texas Legislature to give all full-time public school teachers a $5,000 raise.

The bill was authored by Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and approved by the finance committee on Monday. It calls for every public school teacher in the state to get a $5,000 pay raise starting next school year.

Those in support of the bill believe it would not only give a financial boost immediately, it would help in retaining teachers and also recruiting the best in the profession.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is one of the biggest supporters. He said he will be moving the bill to the floor and out of the Senate as soon as possible.

According to the State Education Commission, a majority of teachers in Texas are paying between earning between $50,000 and $60,000 annually. The bill points out that those teachers haven’t seen a significant pay raise in 20 years.

But like with any bill, it does not come without opposition. Some educators testified against it because the bill does not include support staff.

“I’m barely keeping up with my mortgage payments and I can’t afford to make needed repairs to my home. Anything urgent has to be paid for on credit,” said Traci Dunlap with the Texas American Federation of Teachers. “Classroom teachers are struggling. So are the other members of the team who work towards the success of our students.”

The School Finance Commission identified the Dallas Independent School District as a model for a salary that identifies and rewards the highest quality teachers.

Dallas dropped the seniority-based system and moved to an effectiveness-based system during the 2013-2014 school year. After five years, the district said it has seen improvement, including Dallas students seeing achievement gains that are double the state average.

The proposed Senate budget sets aside $3.7 billion to cover the cost of the salary increase. An amendment added by the Senate committee also seeks to ensure that the salary increase is permanent rather than a one-time bonus.