Lt. Gov. Dewhurst Says TX Teacher Salaries 'Very Fair'; Houston Teachers Say, 'Not Really'

Nathan Bernier, KUT
Lt. Gov. Dewhurst talking to a Catholic school student about math at Austin's Cathedral School of St. Mary in December of 2012.
A local teachers' union is taking issue with what Lt. Governor David Dewhurst had to say about teacher salaries.

The average salary for a teacher in Texas is slightly more than $47,000 a year. That's according to testimony from the ongoing lawsuit over how the state funds public education.

At a debate against three GOP primary challengers in Houston last night, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst said public school teachers earn a very fair salary, when you factor in the state's cost-of-living.

"I would seriously doubt he could adapt to what a teacher lives on."

Gayle Fallon is president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. She says, in the past, teachers went into the profession knowing it didn't pay very well. But they believed the respect they earned from the community would partly make up for that.

"The respect factor is gone. The only thing that replaced it is that they're blamed for everything a child does, which totally exonerates the parent."

Fallon says it is getting more difficult to keep new teachers on the job for an entire school year.

"They come in, and we've had a number of them, as they're walking out the door mid-year tell us, 'I'm sorry, I won't tolerate being treated that way on any jobsite.'"

Teachers with 30 years' experience typically top out in the $60,000 range. Fallon would like to see that gradually raised to $100,000. She warns the combination of low pay and declining working conditions will eventually create a shortage, as more teachers from the baby boomer generation retire.

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