Texas AFT President Zeph Capo told some 40 reporters in attendance that teachers’ extraordinary discontent has been festering for a long time but has increased over the past couple of years over concerns about COVID-19 safety and health. “The fact that two-thirds of educators are thinking about quitting is really frightening,” Capo said. “Educators witness every day the devastating effects on our students when schools have staffing shortages. It’s only going to get worse unless teachers’ concerns are addressed.”
When asked what would make teachers stay in public education, our members surveyed said the top changes would be:
45% said they want pay Incentives (retention bonus, pay raise)
35% said they want changes to workload (fewer responsibilities)
8% said they want workplace safety improvements
“Teachers need a livable salary that allows them to live in the same district they work in,” Capo said. They need a saner workload that doesn’t make them sacrifice every evening and weekend with their families.
Another Texas AFT survey of educators in January showed that only 12% of the 2,500 respondents felt safe being on campus in the Omicron surge. Capo said in addition to the problem of relaxing safety protocols, members surveyed in January also noted the side effects of the surge. Teachers are paying out of their own pocket for N95 masks. Bus drivers cover two or three routes each day. Nurses are left alone with no one available to help, spending 95% of their time testing students and staff for COVID or trying to do what contact tracing they can. School employees asked to do the impossible with next-to-no-resources—not even guaranteed paid COVID leave if they themselves get sick.
“They’re asking to be provided with N95 masks and rapid tests, to be able to take leave when they’re sick,” Capo said. “This is basic stuff.”
We’re on the brink of a historic educator shortage.
We need to elect candidates to office that will give educators the respect they deserve and entice them to stay in the profession with higher wages, more manageable workloads, and respect for their expertise and education.
Beto O’Rourke speaks to Texas AFT members on the need for higher salaries. Watch the video.
Which is why Texas AFT is endorsing former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke for Texas Governor. He has pledged to listen to educators and is committed to working to raise educator salaries. We need a candidate for governor that is speaking to our members’ primary concerns, and that is Beto O’Rourke.
Show early voting some love with our Valentine’s Texting Mixer
Monday is Valentine’s day, but educators working to elect pro-public education candidates to statewide offices, the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education know that Monday also marks the first day of early voting.
Show some love to your fellow educator by joining Texas AFT for a virtual Valentine’s Day texting mixer supporting candidates fighting for the rights and needs of educators. Sign up here and we’ll send you all the details for the event that runs from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Participants will meet on Zoom and will send texts to Texas AFT members across the state reminding them to early vote for our endorsed candidates. Every participant will receive a special AFT sticker pack as a Valentine’s Day gift from Texas AFT.
Valentine’s day isn’t the only holiday getting some Texas AFT love this February. Stay tuned for more information on our next holiday-themed virtual text bank the following Monday on President’s Day.
Ready to step it up and hone your leadership skills?
Are you ready to take a more active role in your union and make a difference for your schools and profession?
We invite you to attend one of our Regional Leadership Conferences sponsored by Texas AFT’s Bridges Institute. The Bridges Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to providing professional learning opportunities for Texas public school employees. Four conferences will be held throughout the state:
McAllen, February 19
Dallas, February 26
San Antonio, March 5
Houston, April 2
Courses will be offered for members to help them build union power at their worksite. The sessions focus on strategies and tips for organizing—foundational pieces for moving potential members to members, members to activists, and activists to leaders. See the full course lineup and register here.
Save big on Valentine’s flowers and gifts with your member benefits
Join our team to support our member educators and recruit more school employees to the union movement. We’re seeking several organizers in the Houston area to work with local unions. See all the details here.