Opinion: Teachers Can No Longer Afford to Live in Texas

Senate Bill 9 is an insult to teachers

Opinion: Teachers Can No Longer Afford to Live in Texas

An Open Letter Governor Abbott and the Texas Legislature,

I am writing to you today because I am a veteran teacher with 10 years of experience, a master's degree, multiple certifications, and a love for the job. The experience makes me a rarity amongst my colleagues since many have less than three years of experience and are already planning to leave the profession. Needless to say, morale in the teaching profession is lower than ever.

Therefore, I was very happy when I heard that you were putting together a task force to address teachers leaving the profession in droves. I was ecstatic to see you doing right by educators in Texas. Personally, the historic inflation rates of the last two years have turned my salary from something I could live on into something where I struggle to go from paycheck to paycheck.

I have read the task force's report and was very pleased with the findings. Especially Nos. 1 and 2 about teacher pay and compensation. However, my hope of having teacher pay addressed has gone from hope to disappointment. I watched and tracked multiple teachers pay-raise bills die in the House and Senate committees. Finally, it seemed like a pay raise of at least $3,000 a year might be coming. While not what I had hoped for, at least it was something.

Today I learned that the most likely outcome would be Senate Bill 9, which would give teachers a one-time bonus of $2,000, plus an additional $4,000 for those who work in districts with less than 20,000 students. Honestly, a one-time $2,000 payment is an insult. It does nothing to entice new teachers, it does nothing to fix the lack of salary growth when compared to inflation, and it is woefully inadequate. It is an insultingly low one-time amount that isn't even a real salary increase.

I can no longer afford to live in my own state. I watch as my salary, which hasn't increased since 2019, is eaten away by property taxes and inflation. Frustratingly, I watch as my own state legislature refuses to help. It's demoralizing, disheartening, and untenable. For Texas to remain a growing, thriving state, it needs a strong educational system, and a strong educational system needs strong teachers. Strong teachers need to be paid like professionals if they are to be treated as professionals.

Cary Beshel is a high school teacher with 10 years experience and a master’s degree.

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teacher pay, SB 9, Texas Legislature, Greg Abbott, Senate Bill 9

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