Statement on SB 3 teacher pay raise bill

February 25, 2019

Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343

Texas American Federation of Teachers President Louis Malfaro commented, and Texas AFT member and teacher Traci Dunlap testified today on the Texas Senate Finance Committee hearing on SB 3, which would provide a $5,000 pay raise for every full-time teacher.

Louis Malfaro: Today we heard from numerous teachers expressing the dire need for higher pay as they face rising health-care costs and struggle to make ends meet with a salary that is $7,000 less than the national average. Our legislators also got to see other faces from the entire team that works to educate our schoolchildren—librarians, counselors, diagnosticians, and others—who supported a pay raise for teachers, but asked that their essential role be considered as well.

The enormous support for the bill from senators is a welcome start in addressing the need for an overall investment of new funding for our schools.

Do our teachers want a pay raise? Of course they do. But they are not going to turn their backs on the team members that are crucial to making their work successful, and they’re going to be pushing for a pay raise for all school employees. Expect to hear that message loudly as our members gather by the thousands for a rally on the Capitol steps in two weeks.

Traci Dunlap (Austin ISD Kindergarten teacher, who testified before the committee):

Like many teachers, early in my career I had a second job, out of necessity. Now, 30 years into this profession, I find myself thinking of taking on a second job again, when I need to be able to focus on my young students. The small raises provided by my district have not been enough to make up for increases in health insurance, housing, and other expenses.  A few months ago I had a health scare, and my first thought was, “Can I afford this?” Unfortunately, my story is not unique. Teachers are leaving the state, or leaving the profession altogether, out of frustration at not being compensated in a way that values the very complex and important work that we do.

While it’s true that classroom teachers are struggling, so are the other members of the team who work toward the success of our students. From the bus drivers who get children safely to school, to the cafeteria workers who make sure children are fed, to the teaching assistants who often work with our most challenging students, to the custodians who keep our schools clean and maintained, we all contribute to the safety, health, academic growth, and social-emotional well-being of the children of Texas.  I’m asking that all members of the education team be added to this bill. We all need a raise.

Texas American Federation of Teachers represents teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.6-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.