Texas teacher’s salary ‘virtually flat’ over past decade, report says

A new report from the Texas American Federation of Teachers union and nonprofit think tank Every Texan shows a “lost decade” in teacher compensation.

Between the 2009-10 school year and the 2020-21 school year, the average salary of teachers decreased by 4%, according to the new report which examines Texas academic performance reports and Bureau of Labor Statistics data adjusted for inflation.

On-campus administrative employees, such as principals, also saw their salaries drop by an average of 4% over the same period.

The average drop in teacher salaries was more severe in some school districts like North East ISD (-14%), Houston ISD (-13%) and Corpus Christi ISD (-11%).

The report shows a significant before and after effect on teacher compensation due to the pandemic.

Between 2009 and 2020, teacher pay was “virtually stagnant”. When extended to 2021, real teacher salaries since 2009 fell by 4%.

“This significant drop in the percentage change of most employee salaries when comparing 2009-2010 to 2020-2021 (as opposed to 2019-2020) appears to be the result of both the relatively rapid evolution of consumer price index from 2020 to 2021 and the general budgetary effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the 2020-2021 school year,” reads the report.

“The percentage pay cuts may not seem significant on paper, but they add up quickly when you compare them to other aspects of the economy,” the report continues, citing increases in rents and mortgage payments. .

Apart from teachers’ salaries, the salaries of other school employees such as support staff (nurses, librarians) have only increased by about 2%, and the basic salary of many auxiliary employees (drivers buses, food service workers) and paraprofessional staff (interpreters, teaching assistants) remains so low that some paid positions are approaching federal poverty levels.

“For example, the average employee of a school cafeteria in Texas earns $24,497,” the report said. “If this employee was a single parent and/or caretaker of other family members in their household, they may well be at or below the federal poverty guidelines for a family of three ($21,960) or four. ($26,500).”

This is especially a problem in big cities like Austin, where the cost of living is much higher than the national average.

To explain why salaries for teachers and school staff remain stagnant or steadily declining, the report looks at House Bill 3, a sweeping school finance property tax bill of 2019.

“HB 3 does not require the legislature to increase the base allowance each year,” the report said. “However, it requires the legislature to reduce property tax rates every year. This forces the state to take on a greater share of responsibility for funding schools with no other source of revenue to compensate for the loss of property tax revenue.

“In 2019, the Legislature set the base allocation at $6,160 per student for the 2020 and 2021 school years,” the report said. “When they returned in 2021, the legislature elected to keep the base stipend at the same rate for the next two years — essentially denying school districts funding that would have triggered pay increases for teachers and other members. school personnel.

The new report comes amid a shortage of educators in Texas that has seen the governor create a task force. Educators said the shortage stems from low wages that were a problem before the pandemic.

The National Education Association’s latest report on teacher salaries shows Texas public school teachers earned an average salary of $57,090 in 2019-20, ranking 27th in the nation in teacher pay and $7,043 in less than the national average.

Julio V. Miller