As teachers strike in other states, Texas teachers are also unhappy


Highlights

Texas ranked 27th in the country for average teacher salary in 2016.

The state hasn’t changed the amount it contributes in teacher health insurance in 15 years.

Although there’s little indication Texas teachers will go on strike as their colleagues in other states have done, Texas educators have long been unhappy with how the Legislature funds public school, affecting their pay and benefits.

Texas was 27th in the nation for teacher pay in 2016, according to latest data available from the National Education Association. That year, the average teacher salary in the state was $51,890, about $6,500 below the national average.

Salaries and benefits typically make up the largest parts of school districts’ budgets. School district officials often say they can’t afford pay raises because the state’s school funding formulas are outdated and don’t provide sufficient dollars to schools.

“I think that the same anger that is bubbling up in those states is bubbling beneath the surface here in Texas,” said Louis Malfaro, head of Texas’ chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

READ: A third of Texas teachers must work second jobs, survey says

The outdated formulas have also led to the Austin school district becoming the biggest payer under the recapture system in which property-wealthy school districts must send money to the state to be redistributed to property-poor school districts. The Austin school district is estimated to send $534 million in recapture money to the state. Relying on growing local property tax revenue has allowed the state to reduce its funding share for public education over the last decade.

State lawmakers have not substantially changed the school funding formula in many years. A state commission is working on making recommendations on how to fix the school finance system to the Legislature by the end of 2018.

State lawmakers also haven’t increased the $75 monthly contribution the state makes to teacher insurance premiums in 15 years. Under the law, school districts must contribute $150 each month, leaving teachers to pay an average monthly health insurance premium of $326, according to a survey by the Texas State Teachers Association in 2016.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last year proposed giving teachers a $10,000 pay raise but state lawmakers couldn’t agree on a way to pay for it. Public education advocates have accused Patrick of trying to funnel money away from traditional school districts to charter and private schools.

“There’s a crisis in leadership in the state right now around education. Texas has done some really good stuff, set some high goals,” Malfaro said. “And yet, there’s no one out there who holds statewide office who is a true leader on a public and higher ed.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Trial begins for man accused of attacking 7 women in North Austin
Trial begins for man accused of attacking 7 women in North Austin

An aggravated assault trial begins Tuesday for an Austin man accused of committing a string of attacks against women, including incidents in which authorities say one woman was doused in gasoline and another was sexually assaulted while threatened with a knife. Police allege that Nicodemo Coria-Gonzalez, 27, attacked seven women between December 2015...
FORECAST: Sunshine, high temperature near 92, heat index of 100
FORECAST: Sunshine, high temperature near 92, heat index of 100

Tuesday forecast for Austin: A hot day with mostly sunny skies is in store for Central Texas, according to the National Weather Service.  Temperatures could reach 92 degrees with humidity driving up the heat index value, or the “feels like” temperature, to as high as 100, forecasters said.  Although the astronomical start...
Hurricane Florence: Trucker driving school bus rescues 64 dogs, cats from South Carolina
Hurricane Florence: Trucker driving school bus rescues 64 dogs, cats from South Carolina

A Tennessee truck driver is being hailed as a hero after he rescued 64 shelter dogs and cats ahead of Hurricane Florence. According to the Greenvale News, Tony Alsup, 51, from Greenback, Tennessee, drove a school bus to South Carolina last week as the deadly storm strengthened in the Atlantic. Once there, he stopped in Orangeburg, Georgetown, Dillon...
TRAFFIC ALERT: Bee Cave Road closed until noon between Loop 360, Barton Creek Blvd.
TRAFFIC ALERT: Bee Cave Road closed until noon between Loop 360, Barton Creek Blvd.

8:50 a.m. Tuesday update: Bee Cave Road will be closed from Barton Creek Boulevard to Loop 360 until noon Tuesday after an 18-wheeler crashed into utility poles and damaged them, causing some to be left without power, Monday night, Austin Energy officials confirmed. Since Monday night, power has been restored to most customers, but...
Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?
Is Ted Cruz’s ‘summons’ letter deceptive, illegal or fair play?

A “summons” letter from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign that has landed in Central Texas mailboxes in recent days has reignited the debate about what qualifies as a deceptive and illegal fundraising practice. Austin resident Sean Owen shared on Twitter Saturday such a letter from the Cruz campaign addressed to his grandmother...
More Stories