‘Neglected, dismissed, disrespected for far too long’: Teacher unions say educators cannot afford to wait on pay raise legislation

SAN ANTONIO – Texas lawmakers are proposing what they call the largest teacher pay increase in Texas history.

Teacher unions say the time for lawmakers to act is now.

Round Rock state House Rep. James Talarico, a former teacher, authored HB 1548, which would funnel a portion of the $50 billion state surplus into teachers’ salaries.

The bill raises teacher pay by $15,000, boosting the minimum teacher pay from $33,660 to $48,660 annually. The average teacher’s salary would rise to $73,887.

Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) supports the proposed $15,000 pay increase.

Wanda Longoria with the Northside American Federation of Teachers said teachers can’t afford to be ignored anymore.

“They’ve refused to deal with this issue. Now you’re seeing us in crisis. We are in a crisis,” Longoria said. “This has been going on for over two decades. We have been sounding the alarm.”

Clay Robison with The Texas State Teachers Association said Texas teacher pay lags behind the national average by $7,500.

TSTA survey revealed 40% of teachers have an extra job to pay the bills, which can distract from their curriculum.

“Some of them take two or three jobs to make ends meet, even though they fear that the fact that they’re having to take extra jobs detracts from their teaching. And they admit that, but they said they have to do that to support their families,” Robison said.

Clay and Robison said a pay raise could help staffing shortages and allow experienced teachers to stay.

“Beginning teachers are very good, but the longer teachers are in the classroom and the more experience they have, I think the better off for the students,” Robison said.

Robison and Longoria are asking lawmakers to listen to educators.

“Public school employees in both parties who are expecting you to act on their behalf — they’ve been neglected, dismissed, disrespected for far too long. For two decades, we have fought this battle. The time is now,” Longoria said.

The bill isn’t just for teachers. Support staff, which includes custodians and bus drivers, could also see a 25% pay increase.

“Many of our support personnel are earning a poverty wage,” Longoria said. “If you don’t have bus drivers, school kids don’t get to school; cafeteria workers, they don’t get fed; custodians — rooms don’t get clean, bathrooms don’t get taken care of, disease runs rampant.”

KSAT reached out to Texas House Reps. Diego Bernal and Trey Martinez Fischer. We have not received a response.

About the Authors

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

Recommended Videos