State house committee deals setback to merit-pay raises for Texas teachers

Posted at 2:46 PM, Mar 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 19:59:47-04

A Texas House committee on Tuesday delivered a blow to proponents providing teachers with raises based on merit.

The Dallas Morning News reports the author of the leading House bill to overhaul public school education across Texas struck a controversial plan to create a $140 million program that offered raises only to top-performing teachers.

Instead, that money will be directed toward schools with the highest percentages of low-income students. It is aimed to provide teachers with incentives to work at the toughest campuses.

The merit pay language was stripped shortly before the House Public Education committee unanimously voted to send the bill to the full House for consideration.

The bill’s author, Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, made the late switch to ensure districts retain local control. His move came after many teacher groups spoke against the proposed statewide system that would have rewarded only some teachers with higher salaries.

They have instead demanded that all Texas teachers be paid the national average before merit pay is even discussed. They have favored a Senate bill giving every Texas teacher an immediate $5,000 raise that state senators have unanimously supported.

The National Education Association reports the average Texas teacher earns about $54,000 per year. That total lags about $7,600 per year less than the national average.

Whether a plan for more teacher money can be resuscitated remains to be seen.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Speaker Dennis Bonnen have both called for increasing teacher salaries, but have expressed a preference for merit-based salary increases as a way to retain the best teachers.

Cost of the $5,000 across-the-board pay raise would cost the state roughly $3.9 billion, the News reports.

What are your thoughts on making public education and paying teachers more money?

Should it be a priority? Or are there other more pressing needs lawmakers should be worried about?