AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following the filing of a state bill aimed at increasing teacher salaries across Texas, two teacher organizations have come out in support of the measure.
State Rep. James Talarico, D-Austin, presented the proposed legislation Tuesday, where he was joined by at least a dozen other Democratic lawmakers. The bill proposes an increase on teacher salaries by $15,000, in a measure he calls the biggest pay raise in Texas history.
“Raising teacher pay is something we can do and something we must do,” Talarico told reporters Tuesday.
Following its unveiling, two organizations echoed their support for the bill. The Texas State Teachers Association told KXAN Wednesday $15,000 is a great starting point, but added more needs to be done to support Texas’ teaching workforce.
“Like I said you know if the State of Texas is truly wanting to do something about our teacher shortage then we need to look at why is it that we’re below the national average,” said Ovidia Molina, president of TSTA.
Molina added the union believes higher salaries will help retain teachers, but they’d also like to see more educators’ input in helping craft legislation. She added they want to see assistance with benefits, saying teacher retirees haven’t received a cost of living wage increase in years.
Elsewhere, officials with the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) said they believe the $15,000 pay raise proposed will “be very meaningful to both certified educators and support staff.”
“We are very hopeful that the legislature will pass a significant pay raise for educators this session,” said Monty Exter, ATPE’s governmental relations director. “Both the individual statements of state political leaders and legislators, as well as the intentions they put forth as part of the introduced budget bill indicate that increasing the amount that educators are paid is a topic they are contemplating. Only time and the voices of their constituents will determine if their contemplation translates into action.”
Exter added that while financial compensation is a critical component in supporting teachers, he said the ATPE feels the campus and classroom environments have become “more and more challenging,” with educators stretched into roles beyond the job of teaching.
“We must find ways to reduce their administrative burden, to provide more support toward meeting the basic mental and physical needs of their students, and to ease their own fears by making schools safer places to work,” Exter said.