Texas Education Leaders Prepare For Special Session On Teachers Pay And School Vouchers

While there’s still time this year for Texas lawmakers to carve out legislation to raise teachers’ pay, educators are still disappointed that they will enter the school year uncertain about what those raises could be.

Despite entering the regular session with a record $32.7 billion surplus for Texas, legislators failed to reach an agreement on teacher pay increases.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde spoke at the event alongside state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, San Antonio teacher Laura Herrera and Texas Private Schools Association executive director, Laura Colangelo. In the conversation, moderated by Tribune public education reporter Brian Lopez, participants spoke about the 2023 Texas Legislature, school funding, teacher pay, a potential voucher-like program for Texas and school safety.

Teacher Salaries

Creighton, who chairs the Texas Senate’s Education Committee, acknowledged that approval for teacher pay raises failed to make it through the finish line during the regular legislative session due to the lack of agreement between the House and the Senate. Senate Bill 9, which he helped author, would have paid a one-time bonus of $2,000-$6,000 to teachers, but it failed.

Several other education bills did not move forward this year because of disagreements between the House and Senate. Near the end of the regular session, several of these ideas were incorporated into a single omnibus bill, House Bill 100, but it also ran out of time due to a lack of agreement among lawmakers by the deadline.

Education savings accounts

Abbott has declared voucher-like programs — which would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private school tuition and other educational expenses — a priority this year. The governor is expected to call another special session this fall to address the issue.

However, if such a proposal can gather enough support remains to be seen.

Creighton added that a voucher-like program would only affect a small number of children — about 1% of Texas students — who seek private alternatives. He noted that $500 million was planned during the regular session for the initiative.

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Author: Ethan Klein

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