Texas teachers need and deserve a pay raise, which is why Gov. Greg Abbott tried to make teachers think he was going to push for an annual pay boost of $1,000 during the upcoming special legislative session. But Abbott’s alleged pay plan is a hoax, mainly because he also made it clear that he still doesn’t want the state to spend more money on education.
“Texas doesn’t need to spend more. We just need to spend smarter,” the governor told the media. “The pay increases can easily be achieved by passing laws that re-prioritize how schools spend money, and we can do that without taxpayers spending a penny more.”
Under Abbott’s “plan,” if it actually is a plan, there is no guarantee of a $1,000 pay raise for any teacher.
What the governor really wants to do is squeeze under-funded local school districts – and local property taxpayers – even harder by requiring them to pay for a “merit” pay raise for selected teachers, which could very well come at the expense of other teachers losing their jobs or taking pay cuts and students getting stuck with larger classes. According to one preliminary analysis, only 10 percent of teachers eventually would get a significant salary increase under this scenario, which likely would be carried out only after a two-year study by the education commissioner.
The state instead should invest the resources necessary to attract and retain highly qualified teachers for all Texas students, and those resources should be invested now.
The governor, who may announce for reelection about the time the special session convenes, is mainly dangling the promise of higher teacher pay as a political ploy to try to cover his miserable record on public education.
Average teacher pay in Texas lags $6,300 below the national average, and per-student funding is $2,555 less than the national average. Nothing in Abbott’s proposal would address these deficiencies.