Texas teacher unions push new state task force for more pay to keep teachers on staff

The governor is launching a task force to remedy teacher shortages. Teachers say low wages are the cause.

By Jill Ament & Caroline CovingtonMarch 9, 2022 10:42 am, ,

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is launching a task force, to be led by the Texas Education Agency, to address the problem of staff shortages at Texas public schools. Staffing issues started several years ago, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem, especially in rural school districts.

Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reporter Edward McKinley tells Texas Standard that teacher groups argue shortages can only be fixed by increasing teacher pay.

Listen to the interview with McKinley in the audio player above or read the highlights below to learn more.

– Members of the task force will be announced this week. Information about the task force’s specific goals are forthcoming.

– Teacher unions want the state to increase teacher pay as a way to improve recruitment and retention. McKinley says salaries in Texas are about $7,000 below the national average, and have been dropping over the last decade.

– Retired teachers also haven’t seen a cost-of-living increase in about 20 years. That means as tax rates change, retired teachers living off their pensions see less in their monthly checks.

“It really changes the amount that they’re able to budget for their lives, and it makes things much more difficult for them,” McKinley said.

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