Among tumultuous reopenings, this school year saw hikes in the salaries of Texas teachers all around the state.
A Texas Education Agency (TEA) report shows teacher pay rose in the thousands, thanks to House Bill 3. The bill was passed last legislative session, so firstfruits weren’t available until yesterday when TEA released results in the report.
For teachers that have taught five years or less, the average pay increase was $3,839 statewide. Teachers with more than five years of experience saw a raise of over $5,000 on average.
The bigger districts saw the greatest volume of dollars spent on raising teacher pay. For districts with more than 10,000 students enrolled, teachers, nurses, librarians, and counselors saw average total gains of more than $7 million, whereas districts that serve under 500 students averaged about $150,000 in total gains for those jobs.
However, individual teacher salaries rose more at smaller schools. While districts with under 500 students saw an average increase of over $6,000 per teacher, teachers at the biggest districts are only earning around $3,400 more.
These numbers come with certain caveats. While HB 3 was tailored to address administrative bloat by making sure the money funnels into the classroom, the data lump in other jobs with teaching. The spreadsheet does not differentiate librarians, nurses, and counselors from teachers, notwithstanding that their jobs hold clearly different sway over the students. The data, furthermore, are self-reported: the districts, not the state, did the collecting. Specific district data may be found on the TEA’s website.
The governor released a statement heaping praises on the raises and crediting the work of legislators like Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), the author of the bill.
“Thanks to the historic legislation we passed last session, Texas teachers are already seeing a significant increase in their pay,” Abbott said.
“Thank you to Chairman Larry Taylor and Chairman Dan Huberty for leading the way on this critical issue, and thank you to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and members of the Legislature who supported this bill. Their work is delivering meaningful results for Texas students and teachers, and helping our state recruit and retain the very best educators.”
Huberty cited the draw and retention of good teachers as a prime goal of the bill.
“Coming from a long line of teachers and knowing how just one teacher changed the course of my life, it was critical that we compensate teachers as professionals,” Huberty said.
“I was proud to be a part of this historic accomplishment and look forward to continuing funding teachers and their peers, so that they not only want to stay in the classroom but stay in the profession.”
Texas Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), Huberty’s counterpart in the Senate, also put teacher retention and quality at the center of the legislation.
“HB 3 raises the salary of all teachers, incentivizing new teachers to the profession and retaining our veteran teachers. It is my hope that this concerted effort to increase teacher compensation will allow more veteran educators to remain in the classroom where they can continue to change lives and share their expertise with junior colleagues,” Taylor said.
HB 3 passed unanimously in both chambers before Abbott signed it into law. Along with raising teacher pay, the bill makes some property tax cuts — referred to as a “buydown” — lowering rates around the state by $0.07 per $100 valuation. It will also cap school districts’ property tax increases at 2.5 percent per year, starting in 2021.
COVID-19 has thrown the bill’s chief goal for a loop. State funding for districts is closely tied to enrollment, and the 2020-2021 school year stumbled to a start with record withdrawals. The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) reported a 400 percent increase in parents pulling their children from public schools using THSC’s online withdrawal tool, with 4,055 withdrawals in August 2020 compared to just over a thousand in August 2019. The July gap between 2019 and 2020 homeschool withdrawals spiked even higher, with 3,114 withdrawals in July 2020 after a mere 201 in July 2019.
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