Our union has documented in detail the staffing crisis in Texas public schools, but our schools aren’t alone. Across the nation, questions remain on how to address all the issues fueling teacher and staff shortages, but paying teachers more would resolve many.
The American Teacher Act, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in December, aims to address that very issue by proposing a national minimum salary of $60,000 for teachers. The bill was introduced by Reps. Federica Wilson (D-Fla.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), both former educators, and it has attracted endorsements from notable education advocates, including the American Federation of Teachers.
Because the bill was introduced in late 2022, in the 117th U.S. Congress, it it would need to be reintroduced this year in the 118th U.S. Congress. If passed, an appropriations bill would determine how to fund the new salaries. Currently, the bill would be funded by federal grants. The bill could take effect as soon as the 2024-2025 academic year, with the new minimum salary being adjusted for inflation each subsequent year, beginning with the 2025-2026 school year.
Most Americans believe that teachers should have higher salaries. Public school teachers often work more than their scheduled hours, with some teachers having to work extra hours or other jobs to make up for low pay. In 2022 alone, 115 bills regarding teacher compensation were introduced in state legislatures and 113 were enacted. Several states have either proposed or passed legislation to increase teacher salaries to $60,000. Thanks to local wage campaigns from Alliance AFT and the Houston Federation of Teachers, all starting teachers have salaries at or above $60,000. Stay tuned to the Hotline for updates on how the American Teacher Act progresses.