Senate Bill 9 Written Testimony by JoLisa Hoover

May 09, 2023  

Raise Your Hand Texas submitted the following written testimony in response to the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Education Hearing on May 9, 2023, regarding Senate Bill 9. Raise Your Hand Texas will continue to keep the public informed through written and invited/public testimony on the issues related to public education in Texas.

Written by JoLisa Hoover

Raise Your Hand Texas

Before the Texas House of Representatives Committee on Public Education  

The Honorable Rep. Brad Buckley, Chair

May 9, 2023

Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Creighton

Key Points

  • Raise Your Hand Texas supports increased compensation and benefits packages for teachers, reported by Texas educators as the most important factor to keep them in the profession
  • Raise Your Hand Texas supports increased investment in teacher mentoring programs, proven effective to help keep teachers in the profession
  • Raise Your Hand Texas supports investments in scholarships for aspiring teachers, a proven, effective strategy for teacher recruitment

Position: On, Written Testimony Only

SB 9 addresses many key challenges in the teaching profession by incentivizing the retention and recruitment of high-quality teachers. In 2022, 77% of Texas teachers seriously considered leaving the profession and 93% of those had taken action to do so. Virtually all Texas teachers agree that adequate compensation and a supportive work environment are fundamental to the preservation of a robust teacher workforce. Raise Your Hand Texas commends the Teacher Vacancy Task Force and the authors of SB 9 for their dedication to Texas teachers. We respectfully offer the following considerations:

Salary Increase for Classroom Teachers

Increasing compensation is one of the most effective ways to attract and retain high-quality teachers. The average Texas teacher earns $7,500 dollars below the national average for teacher salaries. 91% percent of Texas teachers say that salary increases are very important to their longevity in the profession. SB 9 looks to use a one-time teacher pay raise that would then be passed along to school districts to maintain. Additionally, the discrepancies between pay in urban/suburban school districts and rural school districts is concerning. Teachers across the state are facing financial challenges to keep up with rising costs in housing, groceries, healthcare premiums, and putting gas in their cars. Inflation impacts everyone, and a $2,000 raise is insufficient to keep up with those rising costs. Raise Your Hand Texas recommends increasing the Basic Allotment by at least $1,000 to help support this increase in teacher pay. 

Teacher Residency, Mentorship, and Scholarship Programs

Recruiting high-quality teachers is as important as retaining high-quality teachers. Raise Your Hand Texas supports the provisions of SB 9 that create a teacher residency program and increase the Mentor Program Allotment. Various studies show that residency and teacher mentor programs improve instructional quality, long-term retention, and student achievement. Teachers who have these supports not only stay longer in the teaching profession, but are more likely to serve in shortage areas like STEM, special education, and bilingual education. Raise Your Hand Texas recommends adding language to SB 9 that makes the compensation of residency and mentor teachers the primary allowable expense under the Residency Partnership Allotment (RPA). Currently, the bill offers no indication that these funds must be used specifically to compensate residency teachers and their assigned mentors. We also recommend lifting the 40-teacher cap on the Mentor Program Allotment. Given the effectiveness of these strategies, we worry that 40 teacher mentors will severely limit the impact of these programs in mid-size and larger LEAs. 

Finally, any legislation related to teacher recruitment should consider the proven benefits of a teacher scholarship program. Like the residency and mentor programs, graduates of four-year teacher preparation programs stay in the classroom longer and have greater success with their students. Model programs like the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers have demonstrated that these programs are effective in recruiting and adequately supporting high-quality teachers. 

Tags: teacher advocacy teacher pay Teacher Workforce testimony written testimony

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