Education Secretary Cardona: We Have a ‘Crisis of Respect’

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona has put issues of educator respect front and center, calling for increased teacher salaries and better working conditions.

During a roundtable discussion at the White House this week, Cardona said in reference to the nationwide teacher shortage, “(This is) a crisis of respect. And it shows in how educators are paid. […] If we are serious in addressing the teacher shortage issue, we must first address the teacher respect issue. And that means, first and foremost, paying our teachers a livable and competitive wage.“

As stated in our Lost Decade Report, public school teachers in Texas make an average of $7,449 less than the national teacher salary. 

In an interview on CBS News’ Meet the Press two weeks ago, Cardona echoed these same sentiments about teacher salary, focusing this time on the effect inflation has had on teacher wages: “In the last 25 years, when you adjust for inflation, teachers have made only $29 more than they did 25 years ago. We need to do better there. And that will address some of the shortage issues.”

Inflation has had a significant effect on teacher salaries in Texas, especially in recent years. According to TEA reports and CPI data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas teachers now make $6,697 less (or 10.21% less) than they were in the 2009-2010 school year when adjusted for inflation.

Our national AFT union has worked closely with Cardona and other members of the Biden Administration to provide relief to educators through programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which forgives the student loans of governmental employees, including teachers, who have made a certain amount of monthly loan payments.

Our union will continue to advocate for teachers to be respected at the state, local, and national levels. You can join our #RespectUsorExpectUs campaign by taking our Respect Pledge today.