Texas State Lawmaker's Bill Would Raise Teachers' Minimum Salary To $70,000

Just about everybody has a story about a teacher who helped them make a breakthrough over something that had been holding them back, or who recruited them for an important duty and encouraged them to be their best self — a teacher who changed the course of their life, basically.

We ask a lot of teachers. They're the people who we trust with the safety of our kids while we're at work, and who guide them not only through how to communicate, add, multiply, divide, and think, but how to be good people. Many stay long after the bell, too, coaching sports teams or directing and producing plays or putting together concerts.

Just how much we ask of teachers has become apparent during the pandemic, and it has one lawmaker in Texas thinking that they've earned a big pay raise.

Under new proposed legislation, teachers in Texas would earn $70,000 a year — minimum.

Unsplash | National Cancer Institute

House Bill 3580, introduced by Texas State Rep. James Talarico, would increase educators' salaries significantly.

According to a report from the Texas Education Agency, teachers in the state made an average of $57,091 in the 2019-20 school year, which Talarico says is about $5,700 below the national average.

Talarico listed off a few good reasons he wants to give the state's teachers such a big raise.

For one, he used to be a public school teacher himself and he says that he's seen first-hand how much some teachers in Texas struggle.

"When I was a public school teacher, I struggled to make ends meet," he wrote on Twitter. "My coworkers drove Ubers at night and sold their blood plasma for extra money."

"[Forty percent] of teachers work another job during the school year," he added, citing the Texas State Teachers Association.

For another, Talarico sees it as necessary to the state's ability to retain talent.

Unsplash | Ivan Aleksic

"This is not just about fairness," he wrote on Twitter. "It's about recruiting and retaining the best talent in our classrooms.

"We’re losing 45% of our teachers in the first five years. And that was before the pandemic.

"I left the classroom because I knew I could never support a family on my salary."

That $70,000 figure didn't come out of thin air, Talarico wrote.

Unsplash | CDC

"Research indicates a $70,000 - $75,000 salary is the baseline income needed for emotional well-being," he wrote.

How does he propose the state pay for such a large raise for teachers?

"Our state government can fund this pay raise with a combination of federal funds, new revenue, and cutting wasteful spending like the $800M we spend grandstanding on the Texas/Mexico border," he wrote.

Talarico also filed another bill that would affect teachers' pay in Texas.

Unsplash | CDC

In addition to HB 3580, Talarico also introduced HB 4098, which would provide teachers with a sales tax exemption for any supplies they purchase for their classrooms.

"[Ninety-four percent] of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. These educators, on average, spend $497 annually on supplies," he wrote, citing the Texas AFT.

"Teachers are THE most important profession. Without them, there would be no other profession," he added.

"Instead of just calling teachers 'heroes,' let’s pay them like heroes."

What do you think? Should teachers receive a minimum of $70,000 a year in salary? Let us know in the comments!

h/t: KOSA