Public Education in Texas is a $50 billion industry annually. Yet, teachers are being asked to do more with less. Most Texas school districts are the largest employer in their district boundaries and region. Shaleen Margolese, a 3rd Grade Teacher in Richardson ISD, shared her story about the realities of being a teacher in Texas today. Living out her dream, has come with its fair share of costs. Teachers are asked to wear many hats that they are not adequately compensated for. On average, teachers spend $479 of their own money on classroom supplies.
With a complicated accountability system, increased class sizes, growing economically disadvantaged, and English Learning populations place additional burdens on educators. Texas is experiencing rapid growth and is currently adding 50,000 new students each year which ranks #4 in enrollment growth in the nation. Every 22 new students requires 1 new teacher. More students = higher classroom sizes, making it even more difficult for teachers to provide supplies for all students in their classroom.
Teacher pay has been falling since the 1990s — and particularly over the last five years, said Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute. As it did for many professions, the recession hit teachers hard. Districts fought to hold off on layoffs, but the pink slips still came — and so did salary freezes and weaker state funding. Slowly, as the economy improved, school districts began hiring more teachers. But fewer people want to become teachers now. Over the last five years, there has been a 35% decline in enrollment in teacher education programs, Darling-Hammond said. Potential teachers can be lured into other fields with more promising wages like tech — or waitressing and bartending.
The bottom line: When it comes to teacher pay, Texas ranked 27th in the nation — right around the middle. But Texas is dead last in teacher retirement funding and puts a little more than the minimum into the Teacher Retirement System.
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