Bill discussed that would give Texas teachers $2K or $4K raises, short of what they are asking for
AUSTIN, Texas - Lawmakers in the Texas Senate discussed a bill Wednesday that would give teachers $2,000 raises across the board, and some teachers whose salaries are below the median would receive $4,000 raises.
But that is far short of the $10,000-$15,000 raises some teachers have been calling for to transform teacher pay in the state.
The chair of the Public Education Committee, Brandon Creighton, said that the state only has so much money to go around, and when you add it up, the raises he's proposing would add up to $3.3 billion.
"Important to look at that big number," Creighton (R-Conroe) said.
Creighton outlined Senate Bill 9, which he is dubbing, the Teacher's Bill of Rights.
It's a large bill aimed at helping fill the state's teacher vacancies by addressing everything from raises to disciplinary issues.
"Compensation is often third on list of concerns for teachers. Safety is first, support and validation by administrators work environment is second," he explained.
It would require districts to have a plan before a disruptive or dangerous student is brought back into a classroom, and the district would be required to include the teacher in that plan.
It's a process Creighton said teachers are often left out of now.
He said the $2,000 across the board raises, and $4,000 raises for teachers making below the median, is the best the state can do.
"In Texas, we have to balance our budget, can't print another trillion dollars like the feds do and put it toward a problem to deal with later," Creighton said.
The raises would also go to school nurses, counselors, and librarians, but not bus drivers, food service, or janitorial staff, which is a concern for some school leaders.
"No teacher wants to clean their own classroom, drive the bus, supervise the lunchroom every day. We need the funding to address record high inflation," Port Aransas ISD Superintendent Sharon McKinney said.
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SMU political scientist Matthew Wilson said the proposed raises will not create any measurable difference when it comes to teacher pay in Texas.
"Talking here about raises $2,000-$4,000 keeping pace with inflation, I am sure they will be happy to have it, but not the sort of game changer teachers have been asking for," he said.
Wilson said lawmakers are feeling pressure to use the state's surplus for property tax relief.
"That impacts a wide swath of Texans, whereas teacher pay is targeted to benefit more narrow set of people. If that is the trade off, there is a lot more political impetus behind a major property tax cut than major teacher pay increase," he explained.