FEATURED, FROM LEFT: Mike Carrera, Owner, Carrera Communications, headquartered in Edinburg, on Thursday, April 6, 2023, met with Rio Grande Valley lawmakers at the Texas Capitol, including with Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen.
Photograph Courtesy MIKE CARRERA
Sen. Hinojosa serves as key author of Senate Bill 9 for teacher pay raises, vows to seek up to $10,000 across-the-board pay increase for all educators
By DAVID A. DÍAZ
The Texas Senate on Thursday, April 6, 2023 approved Senate Bill 9, which would grant a $2,000 across-the-board pay raise for all Texas teachers – and an additional $4,000 for teachers in small and rural district – because teacher compensation lags behind that in other states.
Those teachers in smaller districts would qualify for the $6,000 bump in pay, in order to bring them more in line with their urban colleagues.
Texas is 28th in the nation for teacher pay.
Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, voted for Senate Bill 9, nicknamed “The Teachers’ Bill of Rights” by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who is the main primary author of the legislation.
Legislation is a proposed or enacted law or group of laws.
The author is the legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process (also called the main primary author).
The Texas Senate allows multiple primary authors for each bill or resolution.
A bill is a type of legislative measure that requires passage by both the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives and action by the governor in order to become effective. A bill is the primary means used to create and change the laws of the state.
“Bill” types include Senate and House bills, Senate and House joint resolutions, Senate and House Concurrent resolutions, and Senate and House resolutions.
“I am a primary author of Senate Bill 9 because supporting our teachers continues to be a priority for me this session,” Hinojosa said. “With this legislation, we are standing up for teachers and providing them with additional compensation and benefits for their dedication to the education of our children.”
• Teachers would also be empowered to remove a disruptive or abusive student from the classroom and would have to sign off on any plan to return the student to class.
• Aside from compensation, Senate Bill 9 seeks to improve teacher support through mentorship programs.
The Texas Education Agency would assist school districts with implementing certain teacher programs including programs that encourage high school students or other members of the community in the area served by the district to become teachers, including available teacher apprenticeship programs.
It would establish a residency program, where college students learning to be educators can actually work alongside veteran teachers in the classroom to gain valuable experience and be paid to do so.
Senate Bill 9 also increase funding for the Teacher Incentive Allotment that provides bonuses up to $36,000 for high-performing educators. Eligibility for the Teacher Incentive Allotment is also increased so that at least 50 percent of Texas teachers can earn designations that come with additional pay.
Senate Bill 9 also creates a grant program to reimburse school districts that employ retired teachers for the cost of their contribution amount to the Teacher Retirement System.
Hinojosa wants $10,000 across-the-board pay raises for all teachers
“The $1.625 billion that the Senate has committed to invest in Senate Bill 9 will provide a $2,000 to $6,000 payment for our teachers who stay in the classroom during the next school year,” Hinojosa said.
He said he will support improving Senate Bill 9 as it goes through the legislative process.
“While I know that they deserve and need much more, my vote today (Thursday, April 6, 2023) is not to show my satisfaction with the proposed compensation, but rather a commitment to continue advocating for more funding and to show my support for the additional benefits this bill provides,” Hinojosa added. “On the Senate floor, I voted for Sen. Morgan LaMantia’s (D-South Padre Island) floor amendment to increase the compensation to $10,000 but it did not have enough votes (in the Senate) to get adopted.”
An amendment is any proposed alteration to a bill or resolution as it moves through the legislative process. Amendments to a measure may be proposed by members in their assigned committees or by any member of a chamber during that chamber’s second or third reading consideration of the measure.
A reading is the presentation of a bill before either the Texas Senate or the Texas House of Representatives by the recital of the caption of the bill.
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Until a bill is finally passed, it will be in the process of a first, second, or third reading.
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“Public education is the cornerstone of our society, and teachers are the backbone of our education system,” LaMantia said on Sunday, April 9, 2023. The Senate Democratic Caucus is proud to advocate for a better future and higher living standards for our educators. Despite my amendment for an across-the-board pay raise of $10,000 (ten thousand) for educator failed.”
Hinojosa provided the following other highlights of Senate Bill 9, as passed by the Texas Senate:
Childcare for teachers
Free Pre-Kindergarten for children of classroom teachers. Teachers with young children could take advantage of existing Pre-K programs at campuses where they teach. Creighton said that many teachers don’t currently qualify for these programs, which are aimed at children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
According to the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Legislature determines eligibility requirements for free, public prekindergarten in the state. When state lawmakers established the prekindergarten program the intent was, and still is, to provide early learning experiences to students who are most at risk for school failure.
If a district identifies 15 or more eligible children who are four years of age on or before September 1 of the current school year, they are required to offer a prekindergarten program.
Study of teacher time
Teachers all over Texas are worn out. They have inherited too many responsibilities, they are often required to spend too much time on non-teaching duties, and many are leaving the profession because the burden has proven too great without sufficient pay.
Many new teachers are entering the profession with little to no experience in the classroom. As the single greatest influence on a student’s achievement and progress in the school building, teachers need support.
Senate Bill 9 protects teacher time by providing supports that seek to limit how much time a teacher spends outside of their assigned work calendar. Workloads may be further reduced through innovative strategic staffing and funding methods already implemented in other school districts.
Senate Bill 9 creates support for districts to learn from already-successful districts and implement them at home.
The Texas Education Agency will provide support to school districts to study how the district’s or school’s staff and student schedules, required non-instructional duties for classroom teachers, and professional development requirements for educators are affecting the amount of time classroom teachers work each week.
Creighton: Senate Bill 9 developed to keep more teachers in profession
“(Senate Bill 9) is specifically designed for the hearts and minds of our Texas teachers and how we can make sure that they not only feel lifted up and valued, but they feel inspired and renewed again to stay in the profession,” said Creighton, who serves as Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
While the average starting pay for a Texas teacher is near $60,000 annually, in rural areas, Creighton said, many begin around $30,000 a year.
Senate Bill 9 would also expand the state’s teacher merit pay program.
Since implementation in 2019, Creighton said that the program has benefited more than 7,000 (seven thousand) Texas teachers, adding between $4,000 (four thousand dollars) and $17,000 (seventeen thousand dollars) to their base salaries.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 11, 2023 at 11 a.m.
Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website’s Audio/Video Archive.
For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).