Texas Teachers Share Salary Concerns with Elected Officials

May 08, 2023  

They know the stakes are high, and the urgency in their voices is unmistakable. “As a single mother, I worry,” said Deetrice Thomas, a teacher from Duncanville ISD. “I have a college degree and many years in the profession, but, as an educator, I’m struggling to pay rising costs for my basic needs. Everything keeps going up but my paycheck.”

Thomas was among the final group of Texas teachers to meet with Texas legislators and staff during the 88th Legislative Session as part of Raise Your Hand Texas’ Teacher Advocacy Days. A total of 75 teachers from regions across the state traveled to Austin to visit with Texas lawmakers and share their expertise while advocating for a profession in crisis. 

Education Advocates from Crowley ISD standing in front of the Texas Capitol Building

The teachers visiting the Capitol during April and May understand the urgency of the situation, as critical legislation related to school funding and teacher pay makes its way through the legislative process. Several omnibus bills contain provisions with potentially significant impacts on teachers and public school classrooms. 

One Central Texas teacher shared how he is waiting until his next paycheck to get his dishwasher repaired because his salary cannot cover this unexpected expense. “As I hand wash my dishes, I’m thinking of all the work I need to do and the time I’m wasting,“ he says. “I’m also thinking that as a 14-year teaching professional, I should have the money to repair my dishwasher. I don’t have the quality of life I should have at this point, and something’s got to give.” 

Bills Moving with Teacher Salary Provisions

As of now, several bills containing provisions related to teacher pay and school funding are moving through the legislative process, including: 

House Bill 100 (Rep. K. King) that would: 

  • increase overall funding for public schools via the school finance formula’s Basic Allotment, and 
  • increase funding for the teachers making the lowest salaries by updating the Minimum Salary Schedule.

House Bill 11 (Rep. Dutton) and SB 9 (Sen. Creighton) that would:  

  • expand the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program,
  • expand funding for teacher mentorship, and,
  • provide free public school pre-kindergarten for children of teachers.  

There are additional bills that would impact teachers, such as SB 10 that would: 

  • provide Cost of Living adjustments to our retired teachers. 
Public Education Advocates from Amarillo Texas in front of Texas Capitol Building

Teachers say they not only need higher salaries but need additional support staff and resources to manage classrooms and the needs of students. Vanessa Gonzalez Lopez of Crowley ISD explained she currently has 44 children in her class of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. There simply aren’t enough staff members to lighten the load.

“Teachers are working so hard to make education succeed,” said Gonzalez Lopez. First-grade teacher Sibohan Manasco from Lockhart ISD said teachers need more support to educate students who have experienced trauma.“Between the great moments of teaching, there are potholes in the system,” said Manasco.

As the session draws to a close, there is limited time to pass legislation to address teachers’ needs, and there are concerns that the salary raises legislators are considering are a good start but won’t be enough to retain and recruit teachers. After a day at the Capitol in late April, Sarah Kay Brent from Amarillo ISD said, “Teachers must have a place at the table shaping education policy.” She went on to say, “Not only a place, but we must claim a seat for the future of public education, for our peers and our students.” 

Public Education Advocates in front of Texas Capitol Building

It is imperative that Texas educators share their expertise with legislative offices as soon as possible.

Important legislative deadlines are fast approaching, including: 

  • May 8 – last day for the House to pass House bills out of committee 
  • May 20 – last day for the House to pass Senate bills out of committee 
  • May 24 – last day for the Senate to consider all bills
  • May 28 – last day to adopt conference committee reports (final versions of negotiated legislation)
  • May 29 – last day of the session, known as Sine Die 


Texas public education advocates standing in front of the Texas state capitol building

Advocacy Efforts Must Continue to Grow

Several teachers who participated in Teacher Advocacy Days reflected on how busy teachers are in the classroom, and how being an advocate for their profession, students, and public education is not always top of mind.

“Eighteen years, and I’ve never worried about politics and this side of education,” said Myronda Mays, a teacher from Duncanville ISD. “But to be here, sitting in the office of an elected official, to be able to be that voice for other teachers, it feels very important.”. 

JoLisa Hoover, teacher specialist at Raise Your Hand Texas, agrees. She reminds teachers at the Capitol, just as she told a SXSW EDU audience, that “advocacy is part of our job.” 

“It cannot be a one-time or single-session effort,” said Hoover. “Educators must use their skills they use to advocate for students to also advocate for public education at the state level. We need teacher voices from every corner of Texas to impact change and improve the profession for all educators.” 

Zach Willborn, who teaches 6th grade at Pflugerville ISD, agrees advocacy is essential to change the situation for Texas teachers. “I encourage every teacher to take at least a first small step into getting more involved in education policy,” said Willborn. “It impacts our daily lives!”

Coral Zayas, an educator from Crowley ISD, remarked on how advocacy steps can be big and small. “The thing that has stuck with me is tiny little steps can make a huge difference. I will emphasize to others that maybe you don’t want to take a day off and do big things, but you can take a few seconds to be one of the voices in the collective. Those tiny steps can make a big difference. You can still be part of the process, even if you don’t come to Austin.” 

Brandi Jackson from Richardson ISD summed up her day at the Capitol with a rallying cry for her fellow teachers: “Your voice as the practitioner is the expert voice the world needs!” 

With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, now is the time for lawmakers to act to give teachers a meaningful pay raise. Contact your legislator today and make a difference in the lives of Texas teachers. 

Tags: Basic Allotment teacher advocacy Teacher Workforce texas teacher advocacy days

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