Teacher pay raise bill sails through committee and is placed on Senate calendar

A bill that would grant all full-time classroom teachers a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise was placed on the Texas Senate Intent Calendar today. This move places the bill one step away from a floor vote in the upper chamber, which could happen early next week if the Senate continues the current practice of taking Fridays off.

The Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously Monday to approve Senate Bill (SB) 3 by state Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who also chairs the committee. Gov. Greg Abbott has declared teacher compensation an emergency issue for this session, making bills dealing with teacher pay eligible for more expedited consideration by the legislature. SB 3 has been filed as one of the Senate’s highest priority bills for the 86th legislative session.

Sen. Jane Nelson invited ATPE State Vice President Tonja Gray to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb. 25, 2019, about a proposed pay raise for teachers.

ATPE State Vice President Tonja Gray was invited to testify Monday in support of the bill. She provided oral and written testimony outlining the need for increased compensation and suggested that legislators could expand the raise to include school personnel aside from just teachers. Several other ATPE members and educators testified in support of the bill during Monday’s committee hearing, which coincided with “ATPE at the Capitol,” our legislative advocacy day held every legislative session.

The committee made a handful of changes to Sen. Nelson’s original bill on Monday. These include expanding the raise to include charter school teachers and covering the state’s and school districts’ increased cost of TRS contributions as a side-effect of the raise. The committee approved the revised bill by a unanimous vote of 15-0.

Research has proven that teachers are the single most important in-school factor contributing to student performance, and the best way to boost student performance is to provide students with access to the best teachers. This fact has been acknowledged by the governor, lieutenant governor, and house speaker in countless public statements over the past several months.

ATPE members filled the committee room for a hearing on Senate Bill 3 during ATPE at the Capitol on Feb. 25, 2019.

ATPE has been driving the conversation on teacher compensation, emphasizing that an across-the-board raise is important to help attract and retain high-quality educators. ATPE looks forward to talking about programs to offer additional, differentiated pay for educators who go above and beyond their regular classroom duties. This includes offering to pay educators more for volunteering at more challenging campuses, for obtaining advanced training and high-need certifications, and for taking on campus leadership roles, such as mentoring.

In order to give these programs the best prospects for success, it’s important that local districts be given the flexibility to design their own programs, include local educators in the process, and provide a professional level of base compensation by giving all teachers a long overdue raise first. It’s also critical that compensation decisions are not based upon student test scores, which are not a scientifically valid measure of teacher effectiveness.

After the Senate Finance Committee approved SB 3 on Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick met with ATPE members and announced that a teacher raise would be the “first or second” bill the Senate passes this session. The Senate has prioritized an across-the-board raise, setting aside $3.7 billion for raises in the Senate’s base budget proposal.

The Texas House is also looking at educator compensation as a priority issue, but the leadership in the lower chamber has not yet released its version of a bill to address teacher pay. In the meantime, House leaders have indicated in the meantime their support and preference for recommendations of the Texas Commission on School Finance, which include changes to weights and allotments and a merit-based pay program based upon Dallas ISD’s “ACE” model. This program would enable a small percentage of qualifying teachers to earn up to $100,000 for working at high-needs campuses. While a bill has yet to be filed, the cost of creating a statewide program similar to Dallas ISD’s initiative has been estimated at around $100 million, which is significantly less than the $3.7 billion price tag for the Senate’s across-the-board pay raise in SB 3.

The House’s budget includes an additional $7 billion for public education contingent upon the passage of property tax relief legislation. ATPE believes the $3.7 billion proposed by the Senate could fit within this $7 billion with enough room left over for property tax relief and additional school funding. Our primary goal in supporting SB 3 and other school finance-related proposals this session has been to work in a bipartisan manner with both chambers and other stakeholders to find comprehensive solutions to the state’s complex and growing public education needs.

If the full Senate approves SB 3 as is expected, Sen. Nelson’s teacher pay raise bill will head over to the House and the committee process will start all over. It is important to note that there are likely to be many changes along the way, and ATPE looks forward to working with both the House and Senate to reach an agreement that will benefit all 5.4 million Texas public school students.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins and ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Mitchell contributed to this report.

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13 thoughts on “Teacher pay raise bill sails through committee and is placed on Senate calendar

  1. Joyce sternberg

    It would be nice if they thought of teachers assistants who barely make over $1,000 per month. They sure could use a raise.

  2. Cynthia oropeza

    This is awesome. I hope that they look at testing . Especially for our Special Needs students. How do they expect a person with a disability to take same test as other kids? I have kids functing at K or 1st grade level trying to take an 8th grade test. This is so demoralizing and humiliating to our students with disabilities. Their self esteem takes a big hit to the point that they want to give up. If they want to test them
    ..bring back The Modified version of test. They should be tested at functional level…this is why they have a disability..because they are not like other students…why are they trying to shove this test down their throats? I dnt understand how parents have allowed this. Why hasnt the state ha not been sued yet? If a person with a disability had to park like others…they would be sued. Same thing…taking a test like others when it is clearly not on their level is soo wrong.

  3. Pam Cantey

    Who will pay for this? School districts cannot afford to add this to their struggling budgets. Will the state fund it and continue to fund it? And yes our paras and aides need a raise. They work for insurance and not much else.

  4. Denise Dean

    I agree, paraprofessionals are extremely under paid. How can someone be expected to work for less than $20,000 per year. These individuals work directly with our students in the instructional setting, in most cases. The professionals could not adequately service our students without our paras.

  5. CW

    This is great on the surface for currently employed professionals. However, I have some concerns:
    1) who will fund the entire money needed
    2) retired teachers have not even had a cost of living raise in over 13 years yet the health care benefits for retired teachers has almost doubled in the last year. Addressing these issues also benefit current teachers in that their future benefits will be as promised
    3) if the state would put some of these funds toward increased contributions to TRS then ALL educators would benefit at one point

  6. Ronald Sursa

    The bill looks good on the outside. It shows the state is willing to begin to look at the needs of teachers and pay. What it does not address is the way in which distrcits have different funding. The flat teacher pay raise they mention does not included Ell, Sped, Librarians, Dyslexia Specialist and more. These teachers are right in the trenches pulling students daily. The bill does not address how $5000 a teacher at some smaller distrcits now puts teachers and administrative pay almost equal. They mentioned that distrcits should make up the difference. In reality that is not possible, and if we look at education as a whole, without aides, bus drivers, cooks, secretaries, and more we are not able to support the needs of our students. The bill should be a percentage base pay that allows for all those connected to education to have a higher wage. If this happens the 350 thousand Texas educators will not get the needed pay. So yes, I applauded them for trying to help our educators, but make sure to do it equitably so that everyone can enjoy that much needed raise.

  7. Tommy Reed

    If we are given the $5,000 raise it will put us in a new tax bracket, therefore causing us to bring home less money. I would rather they fully fund my insurance for me and my family. That way I will still get a raise without going into a new tax bracket .

  8. Luz B

    I have 3 years with out a step increase or a raise. The economy is increasing and the pay I receive is not enough for a paraprofessional.


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