Texas Senate debates bills giving raises to teachers, education savings accounts

Texas senators are considering two big education bills on Thursday.

Senate Bill 9 would provide across the board raises for teachers and support staff, while the other, Senate Bill 8 would create a financial incentive for families looking to pill their kids out of public school and into private schools.

SB9 passed on the second reading Thursday, which means there is just one more procedural vote before it goes to the House.

The bill, proposed by State Senator Brandon Creighton (R-The Woodlands) is being called a Teacher's Bill of Rights because it would also address other issues aimed at keeping teachers in the profession.


No guaranteed raises for Texas teachers in House budget proposal

The proposed budget does not include a guaranteed pay raise for teachers, other than what is tied to an increase in dollars allotted to student learning.

Thursday afternoon, some senators questioned why the bill would provide $6,000 raises for teachers in rural school districts, but only $2,000 bonuses for teachers in larger school districts.

A senator from Brownsville proposed an amendment that would take out the distinction between big and small school districts and provide a $10,000 bonus for teachers across the board.

That would have cost $5 billion more than the current proposal.

After a long debate, that amendment failed.

"You have said this will make our teachers feel lifted up and valued. Have you talked to the American Federation of Teachers and Texas State Teachers Association? They are not in favor of this pay raise?" said Sen. Roland Guiterrez (D-San Antonio).

"When you have a $30 billion proposal and $3.3 billion one, it is obvious which one education groups will be for," said Creighton. "As we all work on issues related to grid, border infrastructure tax relief, there is a rhyme and reason to how much we put in each category."

Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) questioned the bill providing more money for teachers in small districts, arguing that some small districts are property wealthy and may be already paying their teachers more.

Other senators questioned if the bill would cause districts to leave urban districts to go to smaller ones.

Senator Creighton argued that smaller districts are still paying teachers significantly less than their urban counterparts, with some still paying teachers in the $30,000s.


What you should know about education savings accounts, the voucher-like program championed by Gov. Greg Abbott

Texas is the latest state to pitch a version of the program, which lets parents who opt out of their local school districts use tax dollars to pay for private schooling.

The debate about Senate Bill 8, the bill to provide $8,000 education savings accounts for private and home school expenses is still going on now.