More than a year in the making, the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, convened by the Texas Education Agency, has issued its final report with recommendations for the Legislature.
In a statement, Texas AFT President Zeph Capo thanked the task force for its work and made special note of the contributions of the 23 classroom teachers on the task force.
“By and large, the solutions laid out in this report are practical, thoughtful, and urgently needed,” Capo said. “This is what happens when you bring teachers to the decision-making table and give them a voice in their profession. That’s why we advocated so hard for their inclusion on this task force when they were initially left out.”
The task force was established in March 2022 by Gov. Greg Abbott to “examine the teacher retention and recruitment challenges across Texas.” As you may recall, the initial membership of the task force included just two full-time teachers. After widespread criticism — including from our members — 24 more teachers were added in May 2022.
In its report released today, the task force made recommendations in several areas for retaining and recruiting Texas educators. Notably, most of these areas mirror what our union has recommended in reports over the past year and in our legislative agenda.
- Increase overall compensation and support “strategic compensation” strategies
- Enhance teachers’ total compensation package
- Provide incentives and support for hard-to-staff areas (like special education and bilingual education)
We agree completely that the basic allotment that funds our schools needs to be increased by the Legislature (for the first time since 2019). Likewise, our Respect Agenda includes a demand for a minimum $10,000 across-the-board raise for teachers and certified staff (along with a 15% across-the-board raise for classified staff).
An area of potential concern is any increased emphasis on the Teacher Incentive Allotment, the pay-for-performance scheme that uses STAAR scores as a major factor in pay raises.
Training and Support
- Improve the pipeline and pre-service preparation of novice teachers
- Expand training and support for teacher mentorship and teacher leadership opportunities
- Provide access to and support for high-quality instructional materials
The answer to our school staffing crisis is never to lower the bar for educator qualifications. We’re glad to see the task force has agreed with our emphasis on practical “grown-your-own” programs that help paraprofessionals already working in our schools get their teaching certifications.
- Demonstrate respect and value for teacher time
- Schoolwide culture and discipline supports
Our members have told us repeatedly over the past year that respect in their paychecks, on its own, isn’t enough to keep them in their jobs. Pay raises must be paired with additional campus support to significantly improve working conditions.
It’s refreshing to see the task force specifically cite “respect” as a cause for concern and improvement.
We hope that, beyond this report, task force members will urge the Legislature to act on critical improvements to working conditions, like closing class-size loopholes and defining the work year for educators.
We’ll be breaking down the major recommendations in the report and what they mean for educators in more detail over the next three weeks. Stay tuned to the Hotline each Friday for our analysis.
“The devil will be in the details, and we’ll be looking at how that strategic compensation plan comes together,” Capo said in his remarks. “What’s clear: the Legislature has a mandate and a duty to act by increasing the basic allotment, raising teacher and school staff pay across the board, and making serious quality-of-life improvements to the day-to-day operations of our schools.”