If House Bill 1548 passes, Texas will grant teachers a $15,000 pay raise, and school librarians, counselors, and nurses will also receive a $15,000 annual raise, while other school employees enjoy a 25% pay increase.
House Bill 1548, authored by Rep. James Talarico, is poised to give teachers the highest pay raise in Texas history. Rep James Talarico, a former teacher, held a press conference, supported by his Democratic colleagues in January, to discuss the bill, giving teachers across Texas the hope of a raise this year.
James Talarico noted that while working as a teacher, many of his colleagues drove for Uber or sold their plasma to supplement their earnings.
“Educators have always been underpaid and overworked; We work well over the 40 hours which we are barely paid for. We spend our own hard-earned money to make the school environment unforgettable for our students,” said Deanna Perkins, a teacher with Leander ISD, during the House bill 1548 press conference.
According to Zeph capo, the president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, the bill is a welcome relief—a great initiative to compensate for the lost pay and lost opportunities for teachers in Texas.
“We’re hoping that this bill gets passed because that 15,000 dollars to our teachers is vitally important to ensure that we maintain our best teachers in our schools.” Said, Capo
If passed, the bill will see the lowest-paid teacher (with zero experience) salary rise to $48,660 while the average teacher’s salary will be $73,887.
This bill aims to address the state’s teacher shortage by attracting educators to the profession, as they’ve been departing due to low pay, excessive workload, and health concerns.
Addressing the press conference on House Bill 1548, Telarico noted that the bill needs bold action and the state needs to “go big” on teacher pay.
“Texas is currently sitting on $47 billion worth of unused state funds. We can give every Texas teacher a $15,000 raise and still have HALF of the surplus left over.” Said Rep. Telarico.
Upon House Bill 1548’s passage, Texas teachers would become the 7th highest-paid in the nation. Texas ranks 25th in teacher pay, with teachers earning $7,500 below the national average.
Maryland, New York, and California are among the states that offer the highest salaries to teachers, with pay ranging from $80,000 to $90,000 per year. The top five states with the highest teacher salaries are New York ($92,222), Massachusetts ($88,903), California ($87,275), Washington ($81,586), and Connecticut ($81,185).
While the average teacher’s pay in Texas is around $60,000 a year, inflation and the cost of living have increased steadily, unlike salaries reducing teachers’ earnings further.
Zeph Capo, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, reports that teachers in different Texas school districts have experienced a 12%-20% reduction in their actual pay over the last ten years because of inflation.
“It’s been almost a 12% reduction in the Bryan Independent School District. So that we know that this is well overdue and we hope that this certainly passes.”- Zeph Capo, speaking to KBTX about House Bill 1548.
Capo noted that legislators could also address the teaching shortage by making a bill that gets funding directly to teachers and increasing the allotment sent to Texas school districts. Currently, Texas funds schools based on daily student attendance rates. With an average attendance rate of 92%, schools continue to miss out on some funding—affecting teachers in the long haul.
Other legislators in Texas have prioritized teacher pay increases. According to The Texas Tribune, both State and House in Texas have proposed raises in teacher pay.
For example, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick Lists Teacher pay raise as a priority. Sen. Jose Menendez filed Senate Bill 657, which would introduce teacher incentives of over $10,000 per year. Senate Bill 657 also proposes an award of $40,000 worth of scholarships to students who pursue teaching.
However, the last teacher pay increase was through House Bill 3 (HB 3), passed by the state legislature in 2019. The HB 3 bill provided for:
- $6.5 billion in additional funding for public education, including $2 billion for teacher pay raises.
- An average pay increase of about $4,000 per year for Texas teachers.
- Funding for districts to provide additional compensation for teachers with more experience and qualifications- Districts were required to use at least 30% of their funding for teacher compensation on raises for teachers with more than five years of experience or who have earned additional certifications.
- Improving public education in Texas, such as funding full-day pre-kindergarten and increased funding for programs to support low-income students and English language learners.
The contributions provided by HB3 were significant in addressing teacher compensation in Texas.
However, some educators and advocates argue that further action is necessary to guarantee fair and competitive salaries for teachers, especially considering the challenges and demands of the profession.
For example, State Rep. James Talarico, who authored House Bill 1548, says 40% of Texas teachers have a second job.
House Bill 1548 would mean a new dawn for Texas teachers if implemented. It will create more opportunities for new and experienced teachers to learn, propelling the profession to new heights.
Additionally, teachers will no longer need to consider side hustles like Uber driving. They’ll focus on encouraging, motivating, and raising the bar on student performance in schools.
“A $15,000 raise would undoubtedly attract new talented teachers and would definitely retain existing well-trained, experienced teachers, as well as help heighten the teaching profession.” Daniel G. Diaz, a fifth-grade teacher- Kennedy-Zapata Elementary.
Teachers across Texas have welcomed the $15,000 increase proposed by House Bill 1548. Even though it may just be a one-time bonus, it’s a demonstration of prioritizing Texas state teachers.
This move by Texas can be considered a step toward advancing and supporting teachers’ wages.