In November, 66% of Texas AFT members surveyed told us they were considering leaving their jobs. We are in a crisis, but educators and staff across the state have told us how to fix it. They want respect. Explore the facts here.
Learn what “RESPECT” Means to Us
Power of Solidarity: Explore Local Wins
Become a Member & Demand Respect
New Actions You Can Take
- Take Our Respect Pledge – School employees, parents, and students are coming together across Texas to demand respect from our state’s elected officials — and demand they take the pledge too.
- Join Our Working Conditions Task Force – We know class sizes and extra (uncompensated) work are problems. But we need to hear directly from you on the specific problems with your working conditions.
- Join Our Movement – There are 650,000 school employees in Texas. We have power — we just have to use it. We’re strongest when we stand together. Will you join our movement?
- Look at the Facts – Explore multiple reports, surveys, and polls that clearly show that employee voice is the number one solution to solving the staffing crisis in our schools. Texas Needs Teachers! is our newest report outlining solutions to support public school employees.
Hear What Our Members Have to Say
You deserve a voice in your profession. We appreciate Dallas ISD teacher & Alliance/AFT member Katrina Rasmussen for using hers to advocate for herself, her peers, and her students.
Who suffers when teachers and support staff leave our schools in droves? Students, as Chikita Washington, a Cy-Fair AFT member and teacher, explains from her own experience.
“We started getting all these stories about, ‘I can’t buy my medicine,’ ‘I can’t put a new air-conditioning unit in my home,’ ‘I can’t visit with my grandchildren’ — and we said, no, it has to stop.” – Rita Runnels, Texas AFT Retiree Plus
Four Texas AFT members explain the challenges they face in their jobs and define what true respect for teachers and school employees looks like. #RespectUsExpectUs
RESPECT = Safe Working Conditions, Free from Gun Violence
In the wake of the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, we surveyed school employees and parents about their reactions and concerns:
- 90% of Texas school employees have worried about a shooting happening at their school.
- 42% of those employees said the Uvalde shooting may affect their decision to return.
- Still, 77% of Texas school employees reject the idea that teachers should be armed in the classroom.
- Instead, high majorities of both Texas school employees and parents support red-flag laws (87%), required background checks (87%), raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21 (85%), and even a ban on assault weapons (75%).
Additionally, 96% of survey respondents support the Texas Legislature increasing funding for public education to invest in mental health resources and make meaningful security upgrades.
RESPECT = Pay that Reflects the Worth of Our Work
In “The Lost Decade,” a report published in April 2022, Texas AFT and Every Texan revealed startling trends in Texas’ funding of public schools, as well as the effects that underfunding has had on teacher and staff salaries.
Among our findings:
- Salaries of Texas public school teachers have fallen by an average of 4% over the past 11 years when adjusted for inflation.
- Public school teachers in Texas make an average of $7,449 less than the national average teacher salary.
- Salaries for school support staff in Texas may have risen slightly, but many roles — including paraprofessionals and food service workers — remain close to poverty-level wages.
- Texas ranks 45th in the nation for per-pupil spending, which means fewer resources for students’ classrooms and academic programs, as well as employee salaries.
- House Bill 3, the last major school finance bill, meanwhile, has done much more to cut tax rates for corporations than to provide additional funding to public schools.0
Fortunately, in 2022, we saw a number of school districts dig into their reserve funds and federal COVID-19 relief funds to provide meaningful raises for employees — with the hard work and advocacy of Texas AFT local unions and Associate Membership Program members. But to make these raises sustainable, we need state action on public education funding.
You can see the funding and wage situation for districts across Texas (along with the wins earned by our members) with our interactive map.
RESPECT = Workloads that Don’t Require Sacrificing Our Own Families
From listening to our members, we know that compensation is enormously important in retaining teachers and staff. But we also know that working conditions matter as much or more.
When your workload rises every year, but your paycheck doesn’t, it becomes impossible to separate your paycheck and benefits and from working conditions. That’s what we heard in focus groups of 100 Texas educators.
- 24% of Texas AFT members surveyed in November 2021 said their No. 1 workplace concern was their workload.
- COVID-19 made the problem of rising workloads even worse, with every available staff member being asked to cover multiple classes, bus routes, or other duties. But these issues existed long before the pandemic.
- The added load of COVID-19 comes at a time when many educators are trying to complete state-mandated Reading Academies, which have added anywhere from 60-120 hours of extra unpaid work to their plates.
- Rather than blaming school employees for staffing shortages or wasting precious instructional time on STAAR preparations, the state of Texas could take action to lighten the load for the workers who have kept our schools running for three schools years disrupted by pandemic.
- Instead, in the wake of Uvalde, many of these politicians have suggested asking educators to take on the role of law enforcement and carry guns in their classrooms.
RESPECT = A Secure and Dignified Retirement
Retired educators in Texas have gone more than a decade without an increase in their pension benefits — and some have never seen one at all.
The average pension is just $2,118 per month, hardly enough for a dignified retirement for public servants.
These retirees also do not have Social Security checks to supplement their pensions, as most Texas educators are not vested in Social Security. As a result, many are living pension check to pension check, struggling to pay their bills and stay in their homes.
Research from Texas AFT & Partners
A substantial number of polls, surveys, and studies in the past year all show the same thing: Texans respect their public schools. Our leaders don’t.
Texas AFT New Report | Texas Needs Teachers!
In a call to action, the Texas AFT reached out to Battelle for Kids (BFK), a national not-for-profit serving K-12 education systems for over 20 years, to facilitate conversations with a broad geographic distribution of teachers to not only uncover contributing factors, but to surface solutions and give voice to those closest to the work. This paper presents the findings from a series of focus groups conducted in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley. Texas Needs Teachers! synthesizes the perspectives of the dedicated teachers who contributed to advance this important discussion. Teacher voice needs to be incorporated into shaping the path forward. In order to solve this critical teacher shortage, we must create deeper understanding of what it is like to be a modern teacher and align solutions accordingly.
AFT New Report | Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?
AFT’s national Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force released a report, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? The report outlines targeted solutions to ensure educators have the tools, time, trust, and training they need to do their jobs and to stay in their jobs. The report offers practical, research-proven solutions to reverse the shortages and revitalize the education profession, and emphasizes treating teachers and school staff like the professionals they are, with time to plan and prepare for classes, the chance to collaborate with colleagues, the power to make day-to-day school decisions, and ongoing professional development so they can grow in their careers.
Texas AFT Report | The Lost Decade
In “The Lost Decade,” a report published in April 2022, Texas AFT and Every Texan revealed startling trends in Texas’ funding of public schools, as well as the effects that underfunding has had on teacher and staff salaries. If our state and local leaders fail to address issues like back-sliding pay, we will continue to see headlines about massive teacher and staff shortages, and we will continue to lose hard-working, experienced educators.
National Survey of Public School Parent Voters
A recent national poll commissioned by the American Federation of Teachers shows that parents overwhelmingly support public schools and teachers.
Connected Through Our Schools 2022 Poll
A poll of Texas public school parents released this year by the Charles Butt Foundation shows that 69% of Texans think public school teachers are undervalued in society; 63% think salaries for teachers in their community are too low.
Texas AFT 2022 Gun Safety Survey
In June 2022, Texas AFT surveyed educators statewide, along with parents and community members, about their feelings after Uvalde and solutions they want to see implemented to protect our schools.
2021 Texas AFT Membership Survey
In November, we surveyed our 65,000 members statewide about a variety of issues. In that survey, 66% said they were thinking of leaving education, and they cited the key issues of respect behind that feeling: stagnant pay, rising workloads, concerns about retirement and healthcare, and worries about their own safety.