Texas Senate leaders seeking to raise teacher pay by $5,000 annually

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Leaders from the Texas Senate want to give classroom teachers a $5,000 raise each year. 

Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed Senate Bill 3, which would set aside additional state funding for the salary increases. 

“The most important investment we can make in education is our teachers,” Nelson said in a released statement. “They are the key factor in preparing our students for success. Teaching has always been a labor of love, but we need to elevate the profession, recruit the best and brightest to the classrooms and compensate our teachers for the critical role they play in shaping the future of Texas.” 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick highlighted SB 3 during his speech at Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony. Patrick, along with Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen have all emphasized school finance and property tax relief as top legislative priorities for this session.  

“Next to the parent, there is no one more important than the school teacher,” Patrick said. “That’s the first step in raising those salaries up to $10,000 along with other programs in schools that’s we’re going to fund so they can create incentive programs and extra programs for teachers to make money.” 

Nelson, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, also filed the Senate budget, Senate Bill 1, which includes $3.7 billion for the teacher pay raises. Last week, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state has money to accomplish its goals. He estimated lawmakers will have $119.1 billion, an 8.1 percent increase from the budget two years ago. 

For Manor Early College High School freshman English teacher Samantha Kanzler, the idea is music to her ears. 

“I’m a single mother, so raising my kids on my own and knowing financially that I don’t have to work all summer and I don’t have to work over breaks or find a job at night would be great,” she said. 

Kanzler works side jobs in order to make ends meet, something she says is common amongst her colleagues.

“I do photography work on the side,” she said. I do some curriculum writing. I do teach summer school during the summer.” 

Kanzler’s principal, Dr. Alime Sadikova, has seen first-hand how low teacher pay can drive professionals away from the industry. 

“One of my friends, she was a teacher before and now she’s an engineer, so she works less hours and she’s making twice as much money,” Sadikova said. 

“Appreciative and excited” are the words Monty Exter with the Association of Texas Professional

Educators described Nelson’s legislation for pay raises. However, Exter pointed out that categorizing who the bill would impact as “classroom teachers” may leave out key educators that don’t have a physical classroom, such as those who focus on special education or remedial coursework. 

“So they may not be a homeroom teacher, but they’re still definitely a teacher and we want to make sure they get captured,” Exter said. 

The House’s budget proposal sets aside $7 billion more for public schools and was filed prior to the inauguration ceremony. 

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