With “friends” like these, lose a job or get a pay cut

Texas teachers who haven’t lost their jobs, at least so far, in the wake of last year’s legislative carnage may have noticed their paychecks are a little lighter this year. That’s because the average teacher salary in Texas fell by $264 for the current, 201112 school year, according to the Texas Education Agency. This is the first cut in average teacher pay in Texas in a dozen years or more. The new average salary is $48,375, down from $48,639 in 201011, which was almost $7,000 less than the national average.

The next time a candidate for the Texas Legislature tells you he or she is a friend of education – and a lot of them will be doing that once our delayed primary season gets underway – don’t be too quick to believe it. A whole lot of legislators and legislative candidates ran as “friends of education” two years ago, and many of them got elected and then proceeded to slash $5.4 billion from public school budgets. With “friends” like these, Texas’ public schools are heading for disaster.

The pay cut is only the latest fruit of their “educationfriendly” legislating. Just before spring break, in case you didn’t notice, the Texas Education Agency calculated the total school job losses since this time last year at about 25,000, including almost 11,000 teachers. You can find out how each school district fared by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

The job losses mean that more than 8,400 elementary classrooms (kindergarten through fourth grade) are larger than the 22student cap set by state law. That is almost four times as many classrooms as were granted waivers from 221 last year.

Several school board or former school board members are running for the Texas House this year, quickening heartbeats and prompting speculation that maybe some new, legitimate friends of the public schools will be seated in the statehouse. Maybe, maybe not. Several votes for the $5.4 billion gash in school funding were cast by former school board members.

Vet your legislative candidates carefully, including those who come as “friends.” TSTA will be.

For starters, invite them to sign TSTA’s petition urging the governor to call a special session to appropriate $2.5 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to reverse the budget cuts for 201213. A petition signature, at least for starters, would be a very friendly gesture.



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