Will the 2020s be another ‘lost decade’? New map shows depth of Texas’ underfunding of public schools

As legislators meet Tuesday about educator recruitment and retention, Texas educators’ union collects the data behind the funding and staffing crisis.


Sept. 20, 2022

CONTACT: press@texasaft.org

AUSTIN, Texas — A new data map from the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a statewide union of K-12 and higher ed employees, highlights startling statistics about school funding in Texas: 

  • A public school teacher in Doss, Texas, makes roughly 20% less today than they did in 2009 when salaries are adjusted for inflation.  
  • Dallas public schools lost an estimated $349 million in revenue from charter schools in the area.  
  • The average base pay for auxiliary support staff like food service workers in Canutillo ISD is little more than $23,000, a 12% decrease from their pay a decade before, when adjusted for inflation.  

By pulling together disparate data from the Texas Education Agency, Texas AFT aims to quantify the bleak state of public education funding and support across the state. 

“We’re glad the Legislature seems to be taking an interest in the educator retention and recruitment crisis our union has been sounding the alarm about since February,” said Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT. “Our goal with this map and with the many reports we’ve compiled this year is to give decision-makers and our communities the information they need to define the problems and fix them.”  

The release of this map and its associated data comes as the House Public Education Committee and the House Higher Ed Committees convene for a joint meeting Tuesday on the topic of retaining and recruiting Texas educators.  

When the educators’ union released The Lost Decade, its joint report with non-profit Every Texan, in April, data showed that Texas teachers made nearly $7,500 less than their national peers. As the 2022-2023 school year began, that number was cut to $6,697.  

What helped to narrow the gap? A wave of locally implemented pay raises in school districts across the state — another piece of data the map shows.  

For example, in Houston ISD, the 6,000 members of the Houston Federation of Teachers and the 1,100 members of Houston Educational Support Personnel worked together to advocate for significant employee pay raises. As a result, the district approved an 11% average pay raise for teachers and staff on the teacher pay scale, as well as pay raises from 6-16% for support staff.  

These pay raises are significant, but they were not sustainably implemented, as Jeremy Grant-Skinner, chief talent officer for Houston ISD, reminded attendees at a roundtable with school admins hosted by Texas AFT last month. These raises — along with many others highlighted on Texas AFT’s map — were made possible by local districts increasing their efforts to retain staff, using one-time federal ESSER funding or digging into their own fund balances.  

Further investments from the state will be required to keep school employee compensation at appropriate, respectful levels. The target is already moving: With the new school year well underway, school districts across the country are raising their own pay scales too. If the Legislature does not raise statewide funding — and soon — Texas will be worse off than before the wave of local pay raises this year.  

Data like this, Capo said, should inform the House committees’ discussion of how to resolve our schools’ current staffing crisis.  

“The priority for the 2023 legislative session must be to raise the basic allotment that funds our schools,” Capo said. “If legislators will not do that, we will continue to lose qualified, dedicated educators and staff members — and not just because of stagnant salaries.”  

“The priority for the 2023 legislative session must be to raise the basic allotment that funds our schools. If legislators will not do that, we will continue to lose qualified, dedicated educators and staff members — and not just because of stagnant salaries.”  

Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT

Underscoring that point, several Texas AFT members signed up to testify at Tuesday’s committee meeting, despite the difficulties the uncertain schedule presents. Many of the things they say will keep them in their jobs — like smaller class sizes or relief from non-teaching tasks so they can give students more personalized attention — all rely on additional funding from the state.

“I would’ve loved to have stayed in the classroom, if we had taken the lessons learned from the pandemic and used them to reimagine public education,” said Rebekah Ozuna, a former pre-Kindergarten special educator teacher and now a grant specialist in Austin ISD. “Educators are trusting lawmakers as we share our personal experiences about what’s truly happening in our schools. This isn’t some act. It’s a reflection of our souls. Whether legislators on these committees choose to listen and act will be a reflection of theirs.”  

Using Texas AFT’s Data Map

Map view of Texas with school districts shade in varying degrees of red depending on their salary numbers.

Texas AFT combined data available from the Texas Education Agency into this visualization.  

Statewide View

The landing page for the map displays Texas school districts shaded according to the percentage change in the average teacher salary in the district between the 2009-2010 and 2020-2021 school years in 2021 U.S. dollars. 

The map view defaults to show school district boundaries, but you can toggle that selection or choose to overlay:  

  • Texas House districts 
  • Texas Senate districts 
  • Congressional districts 
  • State Board of Education districts 

To look at data for specific public school districts, either hover over them on the map or use the search button to enter the district name.  

Full District Profile

By clicking on the name of the selected school district, you will open a page with a full district profile, housing information like:  

  • Percentage change in average teacher pay between the 2009-2010 school year and the 2020-2021 school year, when adjusted for inflation 
  • Attendance and enrollment data for the 2020-2021 school year, with the percentage change in the past five years 
  • Estimated revenue loss from the public school district because of students transferring to charter schools  
  • Total state and local funding numbers for the 2020-2021 school year, along with the district’s recapture liability 

Data Employee Pay (up to 2021-2022)

By clicking on the Data: Employee Pay button on the district profile page, you can open a spreadsheet with yearly salary breakdowns adjusted for inflation:   

  • Average teacher pay (2009-2010 – 2020-2021) 
  • Average starting teacher pay (2009-2010 – 2020-2021)  
  • Average campus administrator pay (2009-2010 – 2020-2021) 
  • Average central administrator pay (2009-2010 – 2020-2021) 
  • Average support staff (salaried, non-teaching staff) pay (2009-2010 – 2020-2021) 
  • Average paraprofessional pay (2011-2012 – 2020-2021) 
  • Average auxiliary staff pay (2011-2012 – 2020-2021) 

This spreadsheet also collects available data on teacher turnover rates and the average teacher’s experience (in years).