Gov. Abbott’s call for more Texas teachers making $100k draws surprise, skepticism
AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott called this week for top teachers in Texas to earn six-figure salaries, a wage that less than 1 percent of the state’s educators are currently earning,
About 400 teachers in Texas earned more than $100,000 in the 2017-2018 school year, a Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News analysis of teacher salary data shows. That’s less than one percent of the state’s 363,174 teachers. The majority of them are loading up on extra-curricular activities, like coaching sports teams or leading the high school orchestra or band, records show.
State lawmakers, including the Texas education commissioner, have repeatedly said that school districts should reward high-quality teachers with higher salaries, especially those who teach at struggling schools. The state’s average teacher pay was estimated at $53,000 this year — about $7,000 below the national average. Many teachers struggle to keep up with rising living costs unless they start taking on more duties at school.
Abbott’s latest comments, made during a roundtable discussion with teachers in New Braunfels Monday, come after lawmakers unsuccessfully tried to increase teacher pay last year.
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“We want to structure the compensation plan that would be the very best educators on the pathway to earning a six-figure salary,” Abbott said Monday in New Braunfels, according to Austin TV station KXAN. “That will reward good educators but, in addition to it, it will attract other people into the profession who will create a legacy of good educators.”
Abbott did not say how the state would pay for the salary increases or whether he’s expecting local school districts to foot the bill. The governor’s office said Abbott plans to make teacher pay a priority in the 2019 session that begins in January.
Teacher advocacy groups say state lawmakers like Abbott have long talked about raising pay but have failed to act.
“If you’re going to propose a salary increase, you need to come up with a way to pay for it, or else it’s a fake salary proposal,” said Clay Robison, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, who called the governor’s plan a “political fantasy.” Abbott made increasing teacher pay a priority last year during a special legislative session, but the bill failed to pass in the Legislature.
A more precise tally of teachers making more than $100,000 was not available because of errors in the state database of teacher pay. The Chronicle/Express-News analysis excluded teachers who reportedly earned more than $175,000 because cross-checks showed those numbers to be inaccurate.