East Texas educators focusing on several bills in Austin

One bill would increase pay for Texas teachers

East Texas educators focusing on several bills in Austin

WODEN TX (KTRE) - Legislators are back at the state capitol, and educators are focusing on several bills introduced this session.

During his inaugural address this week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced a bill that will increase Texas teachers' pay by $5,000.

“Teachers going to the capitol and telling them, contacting, writing, calling their legislators,” said Janie Leath, a middle school math teacher at Woden ISD. “Teachers have really expressed how they feel about a lot of issues, pay being one of them.”

In previous sessions, similar teacher pay increase bills have been introduced, laying the responsibility on school districts to increase teacher’s paychecks.

However, this time, Patrick said the budget to fund $3.7 billion for the teacher pay will come from the state’s budget.

Pre-K teacher Teresa Millard said she supports herself working at least two jobs. She said over the holidays, her daughter got a job as a second-grade teacher.

“But I don’t want her to become that statistic that quits in the first five years because she’s not making the money to support herself or do the things that she wants to do,” Millard said.

Millard is referring to the statistic that 50 percent of new teachers quit within the first five years of their careers, in efforts to find better paying jobs.

Another topic Leath and her fellow colleagues are paying attention to is the bill on eliminating current testing systems.

“I see so many students struggle to pass that STAAR test, and they’re not low students. They’re not poor students, They’re students that get stressed over the fact that they have to pass this test,” Leath said.

According to the Texas Education Agency, minimum teacher pay ranges from $28,000 to $45,000 depending on years of experience.

Teachers said they plan to attend Lobby Day on February 25 to make their voices heard at the state’s capitol.

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