James Talarico, a former middle school teacher-turned-politician, wants to pay teachers more. He left the classroom for a career in politics because he couldn’t support his family on a teacher’s salary. Now he’s using his position to make sure that teachers don’t have to choose between a job they love and paying their rent. On March 11th, he tweeted that he filed bill HB3580 mandating a minimum salary of $70,000 for every teacher in Texas. Why? He was tired of hearing teachers called heroes without getting paid like it. We are too. It’s time for a change, and this is a step in the right direction.
Teachers deserve higher pay
This is a no-brainer for teachers. It doesn’t make any sense that college-educated professionals, many with advanced degrees, are paid low salaries. There’s no shortage of articles and research about how teachers have two jobs or can’t afford to buy a home or pay off student loans. The numbers speak for themselves:
- Teachers make 20 percent less than other college-educated workers with similar experience.
- Texas teachers’ salaries are $5,700.00 behind the national average.
- Forty percent of teachers work another job during the school year.
- Ninety-four percent of teachers spend their own money on supplies.
“Research indicates a $70,000 – $75,000 salary is the baseline income needed for emotional well-being,” Talarico wrote. He proposed that the state government could fund the raise with “a combination of federal funds, new revenue, and cutting wasteful spending.”
What teachers are saying
What his former students are saying
Politics aside, I hope we can all agree that former teachers “get it.” Teachers shouldn’t have to have second jobs or side hustles. And if they do, they shouldn’t make more from their side hustle than teaching! Yes, it’s been a brutal year. But if this is any indication of the change ahead, or what’s possible for education, we are feeling hopeful.