Are Teacher Protests a Sign of Things to Come for Texas?

Texas teachers aren’t striking for higher pay or marching on Austin to demand more public school funding, but they have a lot in common with those who are. And the protesters’ success in other states could become a rallying cry for educators and supporters when the Texas Legislature returns next January.Texas has imposed some of the deepest cuts in K-12 spending in the past decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington. Only Oklahoma, where teachers continue to walk out, slashed its state formula funding more per student, the report said. Kentucky, Arizona and West Virginia rank near the bottom on this measure, and teachers there have been protesting, too.By comparison, Texas teachers are paid more than their peers in those southern states. At almost $58,000 per year, Texas ranks 23rd on average annual pay for high school teachers, according to federal figures.That’s still $5,000 below the national average, and pay growth since 2010 has been slower for Texas teachers -- slower than the average gain for all occupations and slower than teacher gains nationwide.In Texas, teachers earn about 73 percent of the pay for college graduates, which is also lower than the U.S. average.“There may be differences in the degree of desperation in other states, but these issues are boiling just beneath the surface here,” said Ed Sills, a spokesman for the Texas AFL-CIO, a part of the giant nationwide labor federation. “Public school teachers in Texas feel squeezed, and the level of support from the state is at the center of that.”  Continue reading...

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