HOUSTON, Texas (FOX 26) — There could be pay raises in the near future for teachers in Texas. Texas Senate Bill 3 aims at giving teachers a $5,000 pay increase funded by school districts throughout the state. FOX 26 News spoke with two teachers who are hoping that what their peers are experiencing in Colorado doesn't happen to them.
"I think that if you look at, not just HISD, but across the state, the lack of really competitive salaries has led to high turnover," says Chris Williams, a Houston Independent School District teacher. "Low pay for teachers has led to lower quality student performance."
Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently mentioned that Texas students who are graduating aren’t ready for college or a career. One of the reasons is because teachers are not being paid enough.
Williams teaches high school history and philosophy. He even tutors summer school to help supplement his income, but the last ten of his 12-year career has been a financial struggle.
"By my second year of teaching, my rent increases, student loan payments, and other essential expenses that I had essentially required that I get a second job.” Williams tells FOX 26.
For the last decade, Williams has worked at Barnes and Noble, clocking in 15-to-20 hours a week to help him get by.
“I would much rather be taking the hours that I am spending at the bookstore and staying with the students, and helping them to get ready for what is a really competitive job market," says Williams. He is not alone as many teachers share the same story.
Quanethia Rhodes also tutors on the side but also has to rely on the income of her children. They stay with her in a one-bedroom apartment unit to help since she is also a victim of Hurricane Harvey. A pay increase would mean the world to her and her family.
"I wouldn’t need their assistance, but I will still be there for my sons, of course, as well as my daughter, but yeah, it would mean that I could afford, even if it’s just a two-bedroom two-bath, just to have an extra guestroom,” Rhodes tells FOX 26.
Both these teachers hope that change is coming soon.
"I look at what’s happened in West Virginia, Los Angeles, and Denver and I think that this is a moment where teachers are finally saying you know what we’ve been pushed too far,” says Williams.
"We are losing teachers every single year to other countries, and other districts and even other states," says Rhodes. "We need to keep good teachers here.”
Texas American Federation of Teachers is conducting a rally where the teachers unions from throughout the state will gather in Austin on March 11.