It isn’t enough for Texas public schools to survive. Our students deserve schools that help them thrive.

It’s Time to Thrive

Education jobs are a cornerstone of the middle class. It used to be that a teacher would start their career at a livable wage, steadily earning more with more years of experience before settling into a stable retirement. Now, teachers are barely scraping by. And that’s not even mentioning our hard-working support staff, many of whom make poverty-level wages.

Fifty-two percent of Texas teachers have a second job after the school day, on top of grading papers and preparing lesson plans. Nearly 70% have thought about leaving the profession in the past year for something higher-paying and more stable. How does that serve Texas kids?

This is a crisis, one created by decades of underfunding — and one that can be fixed. Our union is working to do just that at national, state, and local levels.

Our fight to thrive is about creating respectful working conditions with more planning time, fewer added duties and extra paperwork, resources to prevent burnout before it starts, and a defined workday that doesn’t require us to sacrifice our personal lives for our jobs. 

Take Action

Thriving public schools are possible in Texas. But only if we work together to demand them. Take action with Texas AFT today. Check out our campaign action hub for steps you can take to build a Texas where we #ThriveTogether.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, our union has led the way in sounding the alarm about the real crisis in our public education system (a crisis of respect) and in presenting real solutions for our kids, our educators, and our communities. To learn more, read our research and reports.

Previous Texas AFT Reports

The Lost Decade (and a Half)

Texas AFT and Every Texan released The Lost Decade, which demonstrated how far Texas teacher and support staff salaries had fallen from 2010 to 2020. Two years later, an updated analysis shows the situation has worsened.

Texas Needs Teachers!

In a call to action, Texas AFT reached out to Battelle for Kids (BFK), a national not-for-profit, to facilitate focus groups with teachers across Texas to get to the bottom of our educator retention crisis.

Fully Funded, Fully Respected

During the 88th Legislature’s regular session, Texas AFT and Every Texan put a price tag on a future in which lawmakers prioritize respect for public schools and their employees.

The State of Texas: Surviving, Not Thriving

In many of our communities, school districts are the biggest employer. We know our kids’ educators. We say hello to the bus driver every morning. We talk to our kids’ guidance counselors about college readiness. We see them at the grocery store, at church, at the bank, and at the game. When the Legislature neglects teacher pay and school funding, they are turning their backs on both our kids and our communities.

Last year, teacher & school staff pay raises, along with badly needed funding for our schools, were held hostage as leverage for taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, which benefit the wealthy while starving our already underfunded neighborhood schools. Private school voucher schemes don’t fix the problem our schools face; they just line the pockets of corporations by putting our neighborhood schools in jeopardy of losing funds.

Close-up of small signs held by Texas A-F-T local presidents that say "Respect means fully funded schools."


Texas spends roughly $3,314 less per student than the national average each year. That adds up to about $18 billion less spent on Texas public schools than elsewhere in the United States. All this, even though our state has the world’s ninth-largest economy.

The 88th Legislature failed to put any new dollars into the base level of funding our schools get. Instead, lawmakers chased school vouchers.

Two teenagers hold up a sign that says "Respect our public schools."


Underfunding costs our students programs, extracurriculars, and chronic understaffing of educators and school staff who support them every day. 70% of Texas AFT members surveyed in 2022 said they were thinking of quitting, which is causing a staffing crisis.

The 88th Legislature refused to provide raises for any Texas school employee or even take up bills that would reduce class sizes.

Texas A-F-T President Zeph Capo with two young children holding up signs about gun violence in schools.


Lack of resources and respect also makes our schools less safe. 98% of Texas students attend a school without proper staffing of nurses, counselors, & psychologists. And 90% of school employees worry their campus could be the site of a mass shooting.

The 88th Legislature did nothing to reduce gun violence and put just 28 cents more per student into the school safety fund.

An illustration of a dilapidated and locked school building called "Abbott's Elementary"

Educators’ Thoughts on the 88th Legislature

In August 2023, we surveyed 3,452 K-12 and higher education employees about their thoughts on the 88th Legislature. 79% of K-12 school employees gave the Legislature a failing grade on retaining qualified educators, along with 78% of higher education employees. Read more of what educators had to say.

Join Our Fight: If you’re a Texas school employee (K-12 or higher ed!), we invite you to join our union & our fight to thrive. Join online today.