It isn’t enough for Texas public schools to survive. Our students deserve schools that help them thrive.
It’s Time to Thrive
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.
Our union’s professional development and advocacy programs help members create a school culture that allows both employees and students to thrive.
Thriving in Our Schools
Teaching 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.
AFT has launched a yearlong campaign, Real Solutions for Kids and Communities, that rejects the toxic attacks against public education in favor of working to strengthen public schools, making real solutions for kids a national priority. Nationally, we are addressing learning loss, loneliness and literacy through transformative strategies that can be sustained, integrated and scaled to help children recover and thrive
Fighting to Thrive
Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. By taking care of our needs as employees, we ensure our students have what they need to succeed. Lawmakers in Austin have refused to give you a pay raise, just like they’ve refused to take up bills that would improve your day-to-day working working environment. We are going to raise our voices together until they listen. Join an upcoming event.
Your union representatives act as resources and can provide support if you need legal protection or if you need to file a grievance with your school or your district. But we want you to have the information you need before a problem arises to advocate for yourself and your rights. Use our Know Your Rights resource hub to learn more about your rights as a public school employee in the workplace.
The Path to Thriving Texas Schools
The state of Texas can afford #SchoolstoThrive. In a 2022 report, Texas AFT and Every Texan put a price tag on a different future, one in which lawmakers prioritize respect for public schools and their employees and one in which we work together to build a public education system that helps Texas children thrive.
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.
Right now, teacher pay raises and school funding are being 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thriving in Our Profession
When educators are well-supported, they provide even better learning experiences for their students. Yet, educators face stress every day from the strain of managing the trauma and anxiety that is showing up in student behavior, the non-stop paperwork and administrative tasks, and culture wars that make it difficult for them to teach what students need to know — namely, the truth. AFT‘s report with Educators Thriving explains it doesn’t have to be that way.
No matter how great the preparation, the minute you become a “real teacher,” theory goes out the window in favor of “real life” advice that helps you navigate the complexities of being a new teacher. Our free 2023 webinar will help new teachers and their mentors consider important topics like institutional knowledge, handling conflict, social media, unions, and how to keep all the balls in the air! This is just one of the free resources available to AFT members through Share My Lesson!
The Bridges Professional Development Institute is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to providing professional development and educational resources to Texas educators and expanding the “community schools” model of support for public schools — all with the goal of improving student achievement. The organization was renamed in June of 2019 to honor the late Texas AFT president Linda Bridges, an amazing teacher and mentor herself.
We’re Stronger Together
When we say #ThriveTogether, we mean it. Real meaningful change for ourselves, our students, and our public schools is only possible if we stand and work together. Click to join our movement today.
Thriving Across Texas
Regardless of what state and district leaders choose to do, our members work tirelessly every day in their communities to help students thrive. From COVID-19 vaccine clinics to book giveaways to winning better working conditions in our districts, our union’s work is documented in our 2021-2023 Biennial Report.
You’re Not A-Loan: AFT Student Debt Aid & Advocacy
Activists Never Retire: The Fight for Secure Educator Retirement
Retired teachers, coaches, custodians, food service workers, and others who devoted decades to taking care of Texas kids are struggling to make ends meet. Our Texas AFT Retiree Plus chapter has fought long and hard to get a cost-of-living adjustment for TRS retirees passed. On Nov. 7, 2023, Texas voters can approve one. Help us GOTV.