Statement on Gov. Abbott’s teacher retention task force

Snapshot of Abbott letter with official governor seal. Letter linked in story

March 8, 2022

Rob D’Amico, 512-627-1343,

Texas AFT President Zeph Capo commented today on Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to TEA to form a task force on teacher retention.

In January, Abbott rebuffed a reporter at his parental rights press conference who asked what he was going to do about the staffing crisis in public education. Abbott cited his signing of House Bill 3 as the cure, but it has not been an effective one. Why? Because HB 3 was fundamentally more about property-tax reform than funding public education. HB 3 hasn’t done anything to address the teacher shortage, and Abbott knows it, so he creates a task force instead. We’re not against bringing together bright minds to help push for what we already know is needed—respecting educators by providing a real pay increase, reducing unrealistic workloads, and eliminating unnecessary, excessive paperwork. But we need action and leadership now on getting to those solutions.

If Abbott really wanted to do something right now to help the crises in our schools, he’d cancel the STAAR test this spring. Adding standardized testing—which isn’t going to provide any meaningful results—to an already chaotic and exhausting campus schedule is just piling on more stress to our students and educators. 

It’s not just a matter of finding a warm body to put in each classroom. The students suffer when you have underpaid, overworked teachers and jam-packed classrooms. Teachers can only be stretched so thin before they break. It’s impossible to give kids the focus and attention they need when the system is breaking the very people expected to inspire our kids to achieve.

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