May 10, 2024: We Appreciate You

Header reads: Texas A-F-T. The Hotline.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Images of lots of money and rich looking people. Text reads

Now is as good a time as any to remind you that you can find this meme and more by following Texas AFT on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, or X/Twitter 

‘Teacher Appreciation’ 

In theory, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. But you wouldn’t have guessed it from recent education headlines in Texas.  

If you want to know how “appreciated” Texas educators are feeling right now, you should head over to the comments section on Gov. Abbott’s rote Teacher Appreciation Week social media post. This state’s teachers had a few thoughts about being celebrated by a governor who has spent most of the past two years attacking them as “radicals” and poisoning their pay raises with voucher legislation.  

To our members and all Texas educators on this misnomer of a week, we say thank you. Our union sees the work you do every day and the powerful impact you have on 5.5 million Texas kids. You deserve more than gift cards, jeans passes, or free donuts. You deserve a real raise and a public education system funded to help you and your students thrive.  

We continue that fight, arm in arm with you. In the meantime, you deserve a little treat too. We encourage you to enter longtime corporate supporter Horace Mann’s Teacher Appreciation Sweepstakes, as well as the drawing from AFT’s Share My Lesson to win a visit from Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels and a classroom set of his new book.

In this week’s Hotline:  

  • In 2022, we reported on a Lost Decade for Texas teacher and support staff wages. Two years later, we can report the losses continue.  
  • The May 4 municipal elections yielded a rousing victory for educator-endorsed candidates in North East ISD. Can we keep up the momentum for public education in May 28 primary runoffs? 
  • Next week, a Texas Senate subcommittee will meet to discuss issues of free speech, antisemitism, and DEI in higher education.  
  • The TRS Board of Trustees met last week to discuss health insurance premiums for active and retired educators  

— Report

Cover of The lost decade report.

Texas AFT’s Updated 2024 ‘Lost Decade’ and a Half Report Reveals Deepening Crisis in School Employee Pay, Retention 

When Texas AFT and Every Texan published “The Lost Decade” report in 2022, the report exposed how misplaced legislative priorities had produced a school funding system that failed to keep up with rising costs, resulting in stagnant and declining pay for teachers and staff.  


Two years later, an update to the report using the latest salary data available shows the situation has only worsened, pushing educators’ and school employees’ compensation further behind inflation and exacerbating a growing retention crisis in our public schools. 


The numbers from the 2023-2024 school year are stark: 

  1. When adjusted for inflation, the average Texas teacher salary has declined by over 9% since the 2009-2010 school year, a figure significantly worse than the 4% decline in real wages between 2009-2010 and 2020-2021. In many districts, the drop has been much more severe with teachers losing nearly 20% of their earning power over this “Lost Decade and a Half”, including in Corpus Christi ISD (-20.48%), Lubbock ISD (-19.56%), and North East ISD (-18.87%). This decline in real wages reaches as high as 30-40% in some districts.
  2. Texas teachers now make approximately $9,000 less on average than their peers nationwide, a gap that has widened since the 2022 report. Even when adjusting for differences in the cost of living between states, Texas ranks a dismal 30th out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. for teacher pay and in the bottom 10 nationwide for per-student funding.
  3. Average salaries for paraprofessional staff like educational aides and certified interpreters, as well as support staff like bus drivers and cafeteria workers, remain at poverty-level wages less than half those of teachers and administrators. Modest gains in base pay over the past 12 years have been largely eroded by inflation over the past few years. For example, the average paraprofessional base pay has actually decreased by almost 2% since the 2011-2012 school year when adjusted for inflation. 

— Event

Event graphic.

Educating Texas: Is Change Possible? 

Tuesday, May 14 

6-7 p.m. CT 

Texas has the eighth-largest economy in the world and a $32.7 billion budget surplus, but our schools are starved for resources. How did this happen? What can we do to fix it? Can it be fixed? 

Head back to school with Texas AFT for a brush-up on your civics education. In this bimonthly Zoom series, we’re walking through who holds the power in this state, what they’re doing with it, and what we need to build thriving public schools — and a thriving Lone Star State democracy. 

Our next session is this Tuesday, May 14, where we’ll try to find an answer to the question on everyone’s mind: “Is change possible in Texas?” Sign up for this and all other sessions on our Mobilize page. 

Missed our previous sessions? Watch the recordings on our YouTube page. 

— School Board Elections

Decisive Victory for Public Education: Spotlight on North East ISD School Board Sweep 

On May 4, Texas voters cast their ballots in several important municipal elections across the state. High among our most-watched races was the high-stakes North East ISD board election in San Antonio, with both moderate and ultra-conservative candidates vying for control of San Antonio’s second-largest school district. 

The outcome would determine whether the board remained divided or shifted toward a solid pro-educator majority. 

Now, we’re happy to report that all five North East AFT-endorsed candidates on the ballot secured decisive victories, ending a year of stalemates between three moderate and three conservative trustees. 


In what hopefully serves as a portent for the rest of this election year, voters chose to bring stability to the board, which has been wracked with fights over culture-war issues like COVID-19 masking, banning library books, and curriculum censorship. 

— Elections

Reminder: Early Voting Starts May 20 for May 28 Primary Runoffs 

Collage of voting merchandise.

Fund Our Fight: Every purchase made at acts as a donation to our union’s political fund. Grab your voting merch for this election year now!

One May election down, one to go! As we get closer to the primary runoff election date (May 28), it’s hugely important that we make our voices heard in this upcoming election. As the war on public education — and public educators — continues, we must elect candidates, especially to our state & local governments, who not only oppose school vouchers but will also put their full support behind supporting teachers and students


For the May 28 election, early voting starts Monday, May 20, and runs until Friday, May 24. The deadline to submit a mail-in ballot is May 17. You can check your registration status before voting, and keep in mind that a photo ID is required in order to cast a ballot. 

— Event

Text Out the Educator Vote with Texas AFT COPE 

Thursday, May 16 

6-7 p.m. CT 

Without new leadership that makes public education a real priority, we cannot build the future we want to see: one with public schools funded and supported to thrive. Election Day for the primary runoffs in Texas is May 28, setting up a crucial general election for public schools this November. Join Texas AFT COPE for political action text banks on Zoom so we can make sure every educator in Texas knows what’s on their ballot and what’s at stake this election year! 

For more information and for Texas AFT COPE’s current endorsements, visit our Voter Education Hub at 

— Texas Legislature

Texas Senate Subcommittee to Consider DEI, Free Speech, & Antisemitism Next Week 

Next Tuesday, in the wake of significant unrest on college campuses across the state and across the country, the Texas Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education will convene to address the issues of free speech, antisemitism, and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).  


The hearing will include an opportunity for public testimony. Texas AFT, in cooperation with our higher education affiliate Texas AAUP and other members of our coalition, is offering a testimony training this Monday at 6 p.m. CT, in preparation for the hearing the following day.


Each of these items was an interim charge set by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for the subcommittee to study in preparation for the next legislative session. Because this is an interim hearing outside of a legislative session, no specific bills will be considered. Instead, the committee will be considering the issues broadly and will not take any action. 

— Teacher Retirement System

Texas AFT Retiree Pamela Davis-Duck provides public testimony to the TRS Board of Trustees. Watch her testimony, along with that of Texas AFT Retiree Phyllis Ruffin, here (about 10 minutes in). 

TRS Discusses Health Insurance Premiums for Active, Retired Educators at Quarterly Meeting 

Last week, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) board convened for its quarterly board meeting. At the meeting, the board approved higher TRS-ActiveCare rates for next school year and discussed the development of a plan to reduce TRS-Care rates for retirees with Medicare advantage. 


As a result of legislation passed in 2021, rates for TRS-ActiveCare are set based on the regional Education Service Center (ESC) to better reflect the local cost of health care. As a result, premium increases are not uniform across the board, but TRS assures us that premium increases will be less than 10% for most participants. 


Meanwhile, in response to savings caused by the streamlining of the Biden Administration’s Medicare advantage system, legislative leaders instructed TRS to develop a plan to decrease premiums for TRS-Care retirees who are enrolled in the TRS-Care Medicare Advantage plan. To allow more retirees to take advantage of this pending premium reduction, the board also approved rulemaking authority to allow for a limited open enrollment period over the summer for retirees who previously left the TRS-Care plan, many due to premium increases.  

— Gun Violence

Texas Coalition to Rally May 18 for Gun Violence Prevention, NRA Accountability 

In just a few days, the NRA comes together for its annual meeting in Dallas one year after the devastating mass shooting at Allen Outlets mall, six years to the day after the shooting at Santa Fe High School near Houston, and almost two years since the shooting at Robb Elementary that robbed the Uvalde community of 19 children and two educators. 


In Texas AFT’s latest membership survey, gun violence was the top concern for our members statewide. Our union of educators is deeply committed to fighting the gun lobby’s campaign of fear and division that puts profits over public safety.  


On Saturday, May 18, community members, survivors, responsible gun owners, and our partners from GIFFORDS, Texas Impact, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown will rally in Dallas and call for accountability from the NRA and the gun manufacturers it protects.  

Texas—Rally for Gun Violence Prevention & NRA Accountability 

Saturday, May 18 at 9 a.m.  

1500 Marilla St 

Dallas, TX 75201 

We hope you’ll be able to join us and our community partners, both for this event and in this critical movement. Together, we can be a driving force for meaningful change in our schools and our communities. 

— Event

Event graphic.

Listening Sessions: Experiences with Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) in Texas 

Session Dates: May and June 

IDRA and Texas Appleseed are holding listening sessions with students, families, teachers, school and district leaders, lawyers, and community advocates to learn about their experiences with disciplinary alternative education programs (DAEPs) in Texas public schools. If you are interested, please complete the registration interest form below. 

Recommended Reading

Texas education news from around the state that’s worth your time

📖  Unlicensed teachers now dominate new teacher hires in rural Texas schools. Texas schools now hire more unlicensed new teachers than licensed ones. The supply problem is especially acute in rural and small-town schools, where almost 75% of new teachers hired in 2023-2024 were unlicensed. (The Conversation, May 6)  


📖  ‘We have a problem’: Public schools in Texas face funding shortfalls. Texas schools are among the lowest funded in the nation, and in the last legislative session, that did not change. Despite a record surplus, the per-student funding schools receive, the basic allotment, remained flat at $6,160, which has stayed the same since 2019. (ABC 13, May 7)  


📖  Katy ISD board member calls for legislative action to allow tracking immigration status of students. A Katy ISD board member has asked the district to push for legislation that would allow the district to monitor children who are in the country illegally. All children in the United States are entitled to a basic public elementary and secondary education regardless of their immigration status, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. (Houston Chronicle, May 7)