The Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) strongly opposes certain recommendations of the Educate Texas “Texas Teaching Commission” that would make it more difficult to recruit and retain quality teachers in our classrooms while ignoring the major problem plaguing our public schools.

TSTA withdrew from the teaching commission when it became evident that the group was more interested in eliminating the teacher salary schedule and using standardized tests to evaluate teachers than it was in finding the resources necessary to invest in elevating the teaching profession.

“Teachers are the heart and soul of our public education system. They demand to be treated and compensated as dedicated professionals, working in schools that have the resources their students need to succeed,” said TSTA President Rita Haecker. “Unfortunately, this report’s recommendations lack the courage to do what’s needed, and instead, it simply recycles a number of ‘remedies’ that have been tried in other states without proven results.”

“The first priority of anyone who truly cares about the future of public education in Texas should be restoration of the $5.4 billion that the governor and legislative majority slashed from our schools during the last legislative session,” Haecker added.

Educate Texas is proposing an unproven merit pay plan for teachers, which would be tied in part to Texas’ unreliable and increasingly unpopular system of high-stakes standardized tests..

Educate Texas also would eliminate the teacher salary schedule, which means that many teachers would suffer cuts in actual take home pay as their deductions for health care benefits continue to increase. Texas ranks among the bottom third of the states in average teacher pay. Following the 2011 budget cuts, average teacher pay in Texas declined by $264 a year to $48,375 for the 2011-12 school year.

“The salary schedule is one small thing that keeps experienced teachers in the classroom, and at a time when the state has cut funding and teachers are losing their jobs, it is often the only way an experienced teacher has the money needed to keep up with rising health insurance premiums and other items that shrink take home pay,” Haecker noted.