FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 10, 2022
The Agenda for the 88th Legislature? Respect for Public Schools
Educators’ union releases a list of legislative priorities intended to retain teachers and staff, fund schools appropriately, and make schools safer for students
AUSTIN, Texas — As members were sworn in to the 88th Texas Legislature on Tuesday, educators, school employees, and allies announced a raft of legislative priorities designed to stem the exodus of teachers and staff from Texas public schools.
Gathered at the Capitol, leaders and members of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a statewide union of 66,000 K-12 and higher education employees, discussed their key demands for the Legislature, under the banner of the Respect Agenda.
Among those demands:
- A $10,000 across-the-board raise for teachers and certified staff, including nurses and librarians
- A 15% across-the-board raise for classified staff, including bus drivers, maintenance workers, and custodians
- A substantial increase to the basic allotment to fund these raises, as well as investments in our schools to make them safer and more supportive of students
- Closing the class size loopholes that allow districts to overcrowd classrooms without penalty
- A defined work year for educators so they aren’t expected to sacrifice weekends and evenings consistently
In his remarks, Texas AFT President Zeph Capo noted that these measures, while good for educators and school staff, are also important for students:
“Our kids deserve classes small enough that they can learn from a certified, qualified teacher,” Capo said. “They deserve schools fully staffed by adults who care about them. They deserve to go to school every day and sit in classrooms that have been funded by the state of Texas rather than their teachers’ pockets.”
Texas AFT leaders were joined by multiple lawmakers, who discussed bills they’ve filed that move the Respect Agenda forward.
“I am here to announce the 88th Legislature as the public education session,” said Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin), who is filing a bill, co-sponsored with Rep. Hugh Shine (R-Temple), that would move Texas public schools to a more equitable and robust enrollment-based funding model, providing more resources for significant salary increases.
In his remarks, Capo called the agenda “unifying,” a statement supported by the bipartisan delegation of lawmakers present. Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos (D-Richardson) and Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) were in attendance, and both underscored the importance of increased funding for public education and prioritizing educator and student needs.
“It’s time to walk the walk and talk the talk,” Hunter said, before noting the comptroller’s announcement Monday about the nearly $33 billion budget surplus. “This session, we have to put education on the front burner.”
Educator & Student Voices
If you would like to connect with anyone featured in the below video or one of our school employee members statewide, please contact Nicole Hill.
Testimonies from public school employees read by President Zeph Capo during the event on what a $10,000 or 15% raise would mean to them:
- From El Paso: “It means I can stop working in the summer break and spend more time with my own children who are young kids. It means that I can stop stressing to make up payments. It means I can enjoy my work.”
- From Northside ISD: “It would mean I would be able to finally save for a house. I wouldn’t have to worry about groceries. I wouldn’t feel guilty for quitting my second job.”
- From Duncanville ISD: “It would mean not thinking about looking for other opportunities to make more money to make ends meet. It would mean continuing to work in education.”
- From PSJA ISD: “Being able to afford food on the table for my own kids and not worry what are we eating today or worry for paying the utilities bills or food for the week.”
- From Crosby ISD: “It would mean I could be reimbursed for items I purchase for my classroom.”
- From Richardson ISD: “It would mean a lot. It would mean a step in the right direction in teacher retention, and an act of good faith by the state in showing that it cares more about our kids and public schools.”
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.
912 Hwy 183 S, Suite 100-A, Austin, Texas 78741