Texas A-F-T president Zeph Capo, flanked by local union presidents, speaks from a podium at Public Education Advocacy Day outside the Texas A-F-L-C-I-O.

‘The most aggressive of Texas’ four teacher groups’

The Texas American Federation of Teachers (Texas AFT) represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher education employees across the state. We support our members fighting for better working and learning conditions in their district, and we advocate for a thriving public education system at the state Capitol.

And we do so fiercely.

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Thriving in Texas public schools, not just surviving.

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 — not to mention the support staff and paraprofessionals who support those teachers.

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.

We can’t grow our economy if we’re leaving teachers behind. In fact, we can’t grow much of anything without teachers — no firefighters, no nurses, no small business, no realtors.

The path to thriving public schools

Lawmakers cannot continue their shortsighted shortchanging of educators and school staff if they have any hope of growing an economy that lifts us all up.

The state of Texas spends roughly $3,314 less per student than the national average each year1. That adds up to about $18 billion less spent on Texas public schools than elsewhere in the United States2.

There is no fiscal reason why Texas, a state that boasts the world’s ninth-largest economy, should be spending $18 billion less each year on its public schools. Likewise, there is no fiscal reason that Texas educators’ real pay should have declined over the past decade or that school support staff in Texas schools should be earning wages close to the federal poverty threshold, as we reported in our joint publication, The Lost Decade, in 2022.

The money is in the budget. The outstanding question is whether the political will exists.

We did the math: Often, we are asked what “fully funded” means in terms of Texas public schools. In a joint report with Every Texan, we provide an answer to that question. Read the report.

Report the real issues: We are looking for Texas public school employees to participate in a monthlong project. Our goal: track working and learning conditions. Sign up today.

Vote for retired educators: After over a decade of waiting for a pension increase, the Legislature finally passed a small COLA for retirees. It will be on the November ballot. Commit to vote.

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.