Teacher Pay Becoming Serious Issue as School Year Begins

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With the start of school just around the corner, the head of the Texas Education Agency is painting a grim picture of teacher pay and retention, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath told a state legislative hearing that, 30 years ago, most teachers had 15 years’ experience.

"Today, that's not what the profession looks like.  The most likely teacher to run into is in their first year.   The second most likely teacher to run into is in their second year."

He told the House Public Education Committee that there's a direct link to teacher compensation.  Doctors and lawyers, which he says have similar educational requirement, get annual raises

."With teachers, you get almost no raise for 30-years of your life, which just doesn't mimic the growth in their professional capacity."

Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, agrees

"Average teacher pay in Texas lags more than $6,000 below the national average and about 20 percent below pay in Texas for other jobs demanding comparable education and expertise.”He says priority one should be raising base teacher pay.  

Over the past 15 years, teacher pay in Texas has stagnated, and adjusted for inflation, he says teachers’ average pay actually has declined 2.7 percent since 2010. 

"Meanwhile, pensions have been eroded by inflation, and both active and retired teachers and support personnel are seeing their compensation further eroded by dramatically rising health-care costs. This situation is creating a financial disincentive for quality employees to enter or remain in education.

"Morath says the end result is that fewer of the best-of-the-best college students are choosing teaching as a profession. 

 Fewer than one-in-four Texas teachers graduated in the top third of their class.

"Compare that to Singapore and Finland and Korea, where 100-percent of the teachers come from the tops of the graduating class."

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