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Texas teacher salaries largely lag behind the national average

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Public school teacher salaries in Texas lag behind the national average by more than $7,500, according to a new ranking from the National Education Association.

Based on state financial data reported to NEA, the average compensation for Texas teachers in the 2021-2022 school year is $58,887, putting the state at 26th in the nation.

The NEA’s research also includes the latest available data on average compensation for first-year teachers and top salaries for veteran educators.

“Texas offers one of the most dramatic examples of grossly deficient pay for experienced teachers,” the NEA writes in a corresponding report on average salaries for the 2020-2021 academic year.

While new teachers in Texas earned on average $44,527, or about $2,700 more than the U.S. average, the average top pay for veteran teachers in Texas was nearly $13,000 dollars below the U.S. average. By that measure, Texas ranks 43rd lowest in the nation.

Ovidia Molina, president of Texas State Teachers Association, said the disparity points to why school districts in the state struggle to retain teachers as they gain experience.

"We are seeing educators come in and they do a couple of years and they get burnt out because of all the other stresses and because they see no path for growth as far as salaries. They have to have other jobs. They have to do other duties. They have to turn to administrative work in order to make more money in education."

According to TSTA, which is an NEA affiliate, about one third of new teachers in Texas leave the profession within five years.

Texas teachers are earning 1.5% less today than they were during the 2012-2013 school year. The trend is even starker at the national level, according to the NEA, where the average classroom teacher salary has decreased by an estimated 3.9% in the past decade.

According to Molina, state lawmakers can help bring teacher pay up to the national average by budgeting more funding for public education. She added that a new task force Gov. Greg Abbott directed the Texas Education Agency to set up last month to address staffing issues in public schools should start with increasing education funding in the next state budget.

“We love to be number one in Texas. We should be looking to be number one in this area to ensure that we get the best educators and that we keep the best educators in our public schools,” Molina said.

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Joseph Leahy anchors morning newscasts for NPR's statewide public radio collaborative, The Texas Newsroom. He began his career in broadcast journalism as a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio in 2011. The following year, he helped launch Delaware's first NPR station, WDDE, as an afternoon newscaster and host. Leahy returned to St. Louis in 2013 to anchor local newscasts during All Things Considered and produce news on local and regional issues. In 2016, he took on a similar role as the local Morning Edition newscaster at KUT in Austin, before moving over to the Texas Newsroom.