Future and Current Teachers React to Governor Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke’s plan to Incentivize Teachers in Texas

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Music Education majors Manuel Jasso (seated) and Mary Silva (standing) observing the early morning music class at Veterans Memorial High School. Contributed by Brandon Morin

Alexia Garcia, Reporter

With the Texas Election of 2022 coming up just around the corner on Nov. 8, there have been many topics to engage voters about the current Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott and challenger Governor of Texas, Beto O’Rourke. One of those topics being their plans on incentivizing teachers in Texas and raising their wages. 

In 2019, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 3, which was introduced by Texas Legislatures as part of a goal to raise Texas educators wages up to six figures. According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website, the Texas Incentive Allotment (TIA) was made to generate additional funding for districts through teacher designations to “reward and retain their most effective teachers.”

The TIA opens two possible opportunities to earn a designation, with the designations ranked from Recognized, Exemplary, and Master. First, teachers who are National Board Certified may automatically receive a Recognized designation if they meet TEA designation requirements. Second, teachers can become approved for a local teacher designated system, which consists of a multi-step process by meeting the district and the TEA designation requirements, then submitting a system application to the TEA, along with a date validation process conducted by Texas Tech University. 

Lori Linsteadt, an English teacher at Veterans Memorial High School, discussed her thoughts about the TIA system. 

“Teacher Incentive Allotment is not a new thing. Attempts to award teachers who rise above and get the results the state wants have been around for years,” Linsteadt said. “The problem is that the systems are all subjective. We deserve better pay without an incentive. This is the only profession I know of where working off the clock is unavoidable. Again, how much do teachers need to sacrifice?”

The TIA system has already begun in 378 schools across Texas as applications are either accepted, or in the process of being accepted. These schools range from rural to non rural districts, which will in turn affect how much allotment a teacher can receive. 

Manuel Jasso, a senior Music Education major, showed his support for the TIA system and how it can encourage teachers to put in more work. 

“It may be hard to achieve, but if teachers want this kind of increase in their salaries, anything will be done to get to that outcome,” Jasso said. “It’s more of a matter of how hard one is willing to work for it. For me, I wouldn’t care what I’d have to do to get that, I would make it work. I think if a teacher makes six figures, they would definitely have bigger outcomes and better turnouts.” 

Also showing support for Abbott’s TIA system, Danielle Zinsmeyer, a senior Kinesiology major, discussed her thoughts about Abbott’s expectations for teachers in Texas. 

“With Abbott implementing the pay raise system, it provides motivation to be the best teacher you can possibly be,” Zinsmeyer said. “It shows the expectation Abbott has on the education Texas is providing as a whole. I believe that if a teacher gets a raise, they need to work for it. If you do not put in the extra work and a fellow teacher is, it is not fair to award both the same.” 

During the only gubernatorial debate on Sept. 30, O’Rourke was asked to provide his plan for incentivizing teachers, where O’Rourke went on to mention how teachers in Texas are paid around $7,500 less than the national average. 

“There is a lack of teachers due to the amount of problems they put up with and don’t get compensation for it,” Jasso said in response to teachers in Texas being underpaid. “Teachers aren’t only responsible for teaching new criteria, they’re responsible for keeping students accountable and providing guidance of a proper education for students. There is a lot of behind the scenes that goes unrecognized and they should be compensated for the work being put in.”

O’Rourke promised he would raise the wages for teachers so they would no longer have to work more than one job to sustain themselves. He mentioned cutting back on property taxes as a way to fund public schools and raise wages for teachers. Jasso also commented on how this plan could affect teachers and schools. 

“I believe it is very effective,” Jasso said. “Public schools need more funding because not much is being allotted, and it’s causing problems in giving students proper education. If teachers get paid more, less people would be leaving the profession and possibly consider staying and putting in the effort. From experience, teachers put up with much more than they have to and are short funded.”  

During the debate, O’Rourke talked about how teachers should be allowed to utilize as much class time as possible, and to do this, he plans on bringing an end to the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. 

“Standardized tests are the culprit of all evil,” Linsteadt said. “I will cry out of sheer joy when we end this madness. The STAAR test does not do what taxpayers pay for it to do and yet we still spend $90 million a year on it. We work hard to get kids to grow by differentiating their learning, and then we judge them based on standardized tests.” 

“For me, it is not just that challenging the STAAR would divert funds to teacher salaries or one of the many other underfunded areas of education. Dismantling the STAAR and dedicating less time to standardized tests in general would give teachers and students so much more time for content and building relationships with students. We lose an incredible number of days to testing,” Linsteadt said.

 

Sources:

https://mesquite-news.com/highlights-from-the-abbott-orourke-debate-include-immigration-gun-control-abortion-and-teacher-pay/ 

https://tiatexas.org/about-teacher-incentive-allotment/

 

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