Texas teacher shortage linked to low wages, oversized classes

Published 8:00 am Monday, April 29, 2019

By Eric Galatas

Texas News Service


AUSTIN, Texas – Texas teachers earned more than 22 percent less in weekly wages than similar college graduates in 2018, after accounting for education, experience and other factors, according to a new Economic Policy Institute report
Report co-author Sylvia Allegretto, an economist at the University of California, says that’s a problem because more teachers are leaving the profession, and fewer college students are choosing a teaching career, in many cases because the pay isn’t enough to cover their student loans.
“One of our highest ideals is to educate each and every kid regardless of means, and I think the teachers’ strikes that we saw last year and this year are bringing attention to that failure,” Allegretto states.
Allegretto adds teacher shortages lead to class sizes that are too large, and lack of funding also means out-of-date textbooks, fewer school librarians, nurses and counselors, and deferred building maintenance. 
The report’s release comes as the Texas Senate Education Committee is set on Thursday to consider House Bill 3, a school finance measure. 
Lawmakers consistently have pointed to tight budgets as the biggest challenge for fully funding public education.
Allegretto argues that the only thing standing in the way of the richest nation in the world having the best public school system in the world is political will. 
She says when companies such as Amazon don’t pay their fair share of taxes, and tax cuts are given to those who have taken in the largest share of wealth, state and local governments are put in a tough spot.
“And what the result is, that there’s a price to pay,” she stresses. “And the price to pay is public schools, public infrastructure. That’s what happens when you don’t have the tax base, but there’s no reason that we couldn’t have the tax base.”
Male teachers earn more than 30 percent less in weekly wages than similar college graduates, and predictably, fewer are entering a profession where three in four are women. 
Allegretto points to numerous reports of boys having trouble in school, and says one known remedy, having more men in schools, is not currently an option.