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Lost Decade Nightmare: Salary Plummeted By 9% Amid Voucher Wars

Texas is facing a severe retention crisis among certified teachers and qualified school staff, exacerbated by stagnant and declining salaries. Despite the critical role educators play, their average salary has not only remained unchanged over the past decade but has actually decreased by 9% when adjusted for inflation. 

A comprehensive report by Every Texan and the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT), titled The Lost Decade, reveals the profound impact of chronic underfunding on educators’ livelihoods, making it increasingly difficult to keep them motivated and in the classroom.

The Lost Decade reported a 4% drop when adjusted for inflation and the updated report, The Lost Decade (and a Half), now highlights an alarming 9% drop in salaries for Texas public school teachers since the 2009-2010 school year.

This financial decline is driving district-wide layoffs, school closures, and significant cuts to extracurricular programs, deepening the crisis in Texas education.

In a recent statement, Texas AFT President Zeph Capo expressed grave concerns: “Across Texas, from large urban districts to small rural schools, our public education system is struggling to survive severe budget shortfalls. Students are losing beloved teachers, librarians, custodians, and principals—key figures who contribute immensely to their academic and personal growth, often in unseen ways.”

Governor Greg Abbott’s focus on private school vouchers has significantly harmed Texas public schools.

In the last legislative session, he held public education funding increases hostage to push his voucher agenda. Since the House opposed his voucher scheme, no comprehensive education bill was passed. As Capo stated, “Our updated report highlights the gamble Gov. Greg Abbott is taking by not releasing the already budgeted funds for school funding increases. Instead of addressing the critical funding issues in our public schools, he’s fixated on private school vouchers.”

Here are some of the key insights from the report

  • In the initial 2022 report, Texas AFT and Every Texan found that teacher wages had decreased by an average of 4% since the 2009-2010 school year. Just two years later, that inflation-adjusted wage loss has ballooned to 9%.
  • Texas teachers now earn about $9,000 less on average than their counterparts nationwide. Even when adjusting for cost of living, Texas ranks 30th in the nation for teacher pay and falls in the bottom 10 for per-student funding.
  • Although school support staff salaries have seen modest improvements since the original report, many positions still hover near poverty wages. Recent inflation has eroded the real value of any gains made over the past 12 years.
  • Teacher turnover has steadily increased over the last 14 years. A Spring 2024 AFT member survey indicated that 45% of respondents cited salary as their top workplace concern, a rise from 34% in 2021.

You can review the full report to get district-level breakdowns of educator salaries from 2009 to the present.

The updated report serves as a call to action. Immediate legislative intervention is needed to resolve the funding crisis in Texas public schools and to ensure educators are fairly compensated for their essential roles.

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


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