S.A. Teachers Using Spring Break Monday to Lobby State Lawmakers

San Antonio teachers are not sleeping in on this first day of Spring Break, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

In fact, they got up early to head up I-35 to Austin to twist the arms of state lawmakers in support of education reform proposals which are currently being debated in the Legislature.

Plans have been approved by the State Senate to grant an across the board $5,000 pay raise to teachers and school librarians, and to incrase state funding for Pre-K programs to full-day.

"It increases funding for critical programs," said Clay Robison of the Texas Federation of Teachers.

But Robison says the plans currently coming up for debate in the House have some concerns, especially a change in the pay raise bill supported by Speaker Dennis Bonnen and others.

"We oppose the part of the bill that turns over a lot of money to school districts and basically says 'this is for teacher pay, but you can use it in whatever way you want to'."

Teachers are worried that much of the money will go for six figure salaries for more assistant deputy superintendents and football coaches, and too little of it will make it to to the teachers.

“We predict this will be one of the largest and most important rallies on the capitol in recent years,” stated Wanda Longoria, President of Northside AFT.

“A movement has taken hold in our nation demanding states prioritize education across our country and Texas is the next state to feel the shift. Legislators will be overwhelmed with the numbers of educators who will walk the halls."

Other demands of the teachers include the restoration of cuts that were made to public education in previous sessions, to extend the across the board pay raises to nurses and counselors, and to pass a measure that requires that the raises be permanent. Much of the increase in public education funding being considered this session will rely on oil and gas severance funding, and teacher groups are worried that when the oil industry slumps, as it will again, those raisies would be withdrawn.

Teachers are also calling for lawmakers to abandon the concept of 'performance pay,' which Republicans have embraced for the last several sessions. That would tie pay raises for teachers to student test scores. Teachers say there are too many variables out of their control that affect test scores.

Teachers will also be calling for an end to 'high stakes testing.' There is growing support for abolishing the STAAR test. New Mexico earlier this year eliminated the use of testing to determine who advances from grade to grade and who graduates, in favor of metrics which teachers say are more accurate and more equitable.

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