Local teachers react to pay raises

The persistent call for better compensation has now been answered by lawmakers in Austin who set aside more than $2 billion to pump up teacher pay.

While legislators left school districts some flexibility in distribution, educators with five years in the classroom could see raises approaching $4,000.

And critical to those on the receiving end, the pay hike won't be directly linked to student test scores.

"As an educator, I would like to see just a little increase in pay for us now because you got some teachers that are living pay check to pay check," said Flojean Williams, who teaches kindergarten within Houston ISD.

Corina Ortiz of the Houston Federation of Teachers believes the pay bump could help slow an ongoing exodus of veteran instructors from inner city campuses.

"It's going to certainly help the situation as opposed to the bleeding jugular vein that we see every year with educators flowing out to the suburbs and the outer districts," said Ortiz.

The teacher raises are imbedded in a public education appropriation which boosts average spending per Texas student by nearly $1000 per pupil.

Veteran educators are tempering their celebration with genuine concern that some of the money will be siphoned away from the classroom.

"We going to have to monitor and make sure it doesn't go into some pet project they've cooked up they want to use the money for instead of giving it to the teachers and to the children," said Helen Wheatley, a 16-year veteran of the classroom.

Heading into the legislative session, Texas ranked 27th among the states in teacher pay.