The Texas Education Agency—responding to widespread criticism over seating only two teachers on a 28-member Teacher Vacancy Task Force—added 24 more teachers to the task force on Tuesday. Names have not been released yet for those additions, except for the new task force chair, Dallas ISD teacher Josue Torres. Torres made headlines in 2019 when Gov. Greg Abbott overstated his compensation and the salary potential of other teachers.
Torres also testified at the Legislature in 2019 in favor of the Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA). Districts participating in that program use STAAR scores to a large degree to determine which teachers receive additional compensation funded by the state. However, Texas AFT has consistently pointed out the harm caused by pay based on student test scores, and our members have testified on the significant problems with Dallas ISD’s Teacher Excellence Initiative and Accelerating Campus Excellence programs that led to limited numbers of higher salaries. These incentive programs cannot raise pay overall, are unfair, inconsistent, and based on faulty means of measuring effectiveness.
When we last reported, the TIA for the entire state only added compensation to about 1% of Texas teachers. That fact alone shows why teacher members on this task force should have the ability to focus their efforts on overall pay for the profession and not just performance pay, which often detracts from that issue.
Texas AFT remains skeptical about what results will come from the task force, since we already know what is needed to retain educators—give them the respect and the pay they deserve. Nevertheless, we will be following the task force, which will meet every other month, and we will continue to push it to produce useful recommendations for the next legislative session in January 2023.