School privatization group thinks a teacher pay raise would be “wasteful”

Although the Senate Finance Committee approved Senate Bill 3 to give all Texas classroom teachers an overdue, $5,000 across-the-board pay raise, not everyone is on board. One prominent Austin group thinks such a pay raise would be “wasteful.”

That would be the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which would rather turn public schools over to corporate-style charters or waste money on private school vouchers than adequately pay educators. Here is how Kara Belew, TPPF’s senior education policy adviser, was quoted in The Dallas Morning News this week: “Across-the-board pay raises (for teachers) are wasteful.”

Kara Belew needs to sit down and have a talk with TSTA member Virginia Caldwell, who told the Senate committee on Monday how she makes more money in one day as an Uber driver on the weekend than she makes in one day as an ESL teacher in Hutto ISD, despite having eight years of teaching experience and a master’s degree. Caldwell won’t be wasting a pay raise.

Neither will the thousands of other teachers who also have to take extra jobs during the school year to meet their families’ needs. This is about 40 percent of Texas teachers, according to TSTA’s most-recent moonlighting survey.

Other teachers are scrimping on their medical treatments and prescription drugs because they aren’t paid enough to afford them. They won’t be wasting a pay raise either.

And thousands of very effective teachers are quitting the profession each year because they simply can’t afford the low pay. That is what is really wasteful – for taxpayers and school children.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation wants to limit pay raises to a very limited number of teachers and make them jump through hoops – such as STAAR test scores – to “earn” what they and their colleagues already have earned – many times over.

TSTA will continue to fight for a significant pay raise for all teachers – to bring us as close as possible to closing the $7,300 gap by which average teacher pay in Texas trails the national average. We also will fight for state funding to increase pay for the other school professionals and support staff whose work also is critical to student success and safety. We also will seek better benefits for retired educators.

And we will fight against “merit” or incentive-based pay, which would unfairly – and wastefully — exclude the vast majority of hard-working, effective Texas educators.

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