Texas Underpays Teachers
I recently released my special report, The Cost of Underpaying Texas Teachers, which showed Texas loses $13.3 billion each year by underpaying teachers. I am calling on the Legislature to approve a $3,000 pay raise now for Texas teachers, to institute a competitive, automatic pay increase every two years, and to pay bonuses to all teachers whose low performing schools improve.
Texas ranks 33rd in these United States in teachers' salaries. We can and we must do better. Nearly 37,000 Texas teachers leave the classroom each year taking their skills to better-paying jobs or simply quitting. To ensure our state's economic prosperity, we must recruit, reward and retain highly qualified and experienced teachers who are fully certified, well paid and dedicated to a lifelong career with our most precious resource, our children.
Tragically, as many as 50,000 students drop out of Texas schools every year. These dropouts cost our Texas economy $11.4 billion every year. Add incarceration and welfare costs of dropouts to the costs of teacher training and recruiting and other state and federal expenses, and the annual price tag jumps to $13.3 billion.
My report showed turnover is highest where teacher pay is lowest. I would rather spend $1 billion today investing in our future by giving teachers this much-deserved pay raise, than continue paying for failed policies of the past--$13.3 billion year after year after year.
The return on our investment: keeping good teachers, fewer low-performing schools, fewer failing students, fewer dropouts and a stronger economy for the state of Texas.
As a former public school teacher and a former school board president, but most importantly as a momma and a grandmomma, my goal is to drive more of every education dollar directly into the classroom with the students and the teachers, where it belongs. Today, our Texas teachers are underpaid and underappreciated. Texas is great, but we can do better.
Carole Keeton Strayhorn