EDINBURG, Texas – Teachers in the Rio Grande Valley are cautiously optomistic they will get a hefty raise this year. The Texas House just passed a comprehensive education funding bill which includes a $5,000 raise for more teachers in Texas.
The Texas Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 3, which would raise the annual salaries of full-time public school teachers and librarians by $5,000.
“Most people are not in it for the salary,” said Edinburg AFT President Marsha Gonzalez. “They’re in it because they love to teach.”
Texas teachers earn a salary of $7,000 below the national average pay for teaching. Gonzalez says she believes the bill would help educators cover their expenses, including increased pensions by some school districts.
“A lot of us haven’t seen an increase for some time — especially those of us that are over 20 years of experience — the ladder kinda stops,” said Gonzalez. “And we don’t get very much of an increase. It’s not even the cost of living.”
Since the Edinburg chapter of the American Federation of Teachers was established 11 years ago, it has grown to around 400 members including teachers, bus drivers, security guards and other occupations employed by schools.
“We’re able to advocate for our members at the local level, so there’s a lot more power,” said Gonzalez. ” We have the resources to go ahead and talk to the administration, to talk to the community and to be actively engaged.”
Governor Greg Abbott declared teacher pay an emergency item in his State of the State address in February. Senate Bill 3 would cost the state $4 billion over the next two years.
The house has since referred the bill to the department of education, and in order to be officially signed into law by the governor, it must also agree upon this proposed senate bill.
Governor Abbott has vowed to sign the measure into law as part of a bigger education funding law. The senate is expected to vote on the bill next week.