Union–NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
A national public education study gives the state of Texas mediocre grades.
Scholaroo released the 2022 Student Success Rankings this month. The scholarship and data site reports that this is the first national study to analyze the impact of the pandemic on the public school system.
Texas ranked 26th overall in the nation in providing a good environment for a student to succeed in school and maintain a healthy physical and mental lifestyle.
For context, many northeastern states made it into the top 10.
The study shows that the worst performing rankings for Texas relate to student achievement and quality, which include dropout rates, test scores, teacher experience and salaries.
Click here to read more details about the study.
Alliance AFT, which represents Dallas ISD employees, said this reflected the outcry from teachers throughout the pandemic.
“What we see and hear in this study roughly matches what we hear in our schools today,” said Rena Honea, President of Alliance AFT.
At a statewide press conference this month, Texas AFT released a list of demands for the Texas Legislature, including establishing better pay for teachers, more safer for students and educators during the pandemic and more support in addressing learning loss.
Unions said the failure to have these things has led to teachers quitting at an unprecedented rate and districts facing record teacher shortages.
“It seems to have taken a toll on so many people. And what’s very sad to me is that we don’t have a lot of people interested in wanting to get into the field of education. They’ve seen the lows salaries in Texas is what’s happening to our teachers,” Honea said.
Honea said another issue was workload. Teachers are exhausted from working nights and weekends to keep up.
Unlike other states, there is no law in Texas that allows something called “collective bargaining rights,” which allows teachers to negotiate the terms and needs of their contracts to work.
Honea said meeting these teacher needs is key to helping students succeed.
“We have people leaving who have been in our schools for years. Not because they are not good teachers, but they are just physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. And there doesn’t seem to be any relief. at all,” she said.
She also said unions also want to see a higher public minimum wage set for teachers.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the minimum wage for teachers, full-time librarians, full-time counselors, and full-time registered nurses is currently set at around $33,000 for starting salary. The paytable increases with experience.
The minimum has remained the same for the past four years, down from $28,000 in 2018.
Honea said these lower amounts are common in more rural districts as opposed to larger districts like Dallas ISD and Fort Worth ISD, which each offer very competitive salaries and bonuses for new hires, as well as employee bonuses. existing.
“Not everyone can afford higher salary incentives,” Honea said. “Dallas ISD is currently offering any teacher or anyone with a bachelor’s degree to participate in the alternative certification program for free. This has never been done in my 40+ years of education, to my knowledge. This just shows the things the districts have to do to try to attract people to bring them into the districts to work with our students.”
With housing costs skyrocketing in North Texas and inflation, Honea said the disparity in salaries among school districts across the state has led to teachers struggling to buy homes, pay rent or even afford to continue teaching.