After the 2021-22 school year, more Texas teachers were considering leaving the field than any time in the past 42 years, the Texas State Teachers Association reported.

In a survey of nearly 700 teachers, the union found that 70% of them were “seriously considering” quitting their jobs—a substantial increase from 2018, when 53% of teachers reportedly considered leaving the field.

Texas is facing a teacher shortage as schools deal with high turnover rates. In an attempt to tackle this problem, the Texas House passed two bills on April 27 that are aimed at increasing funding for schools and providing more support for teachers.

House Bill 11, by Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, would provide additional funding for teacher residency and mentorship programs, which help aspiring and early-career teachers. The proposal also increases the Teacher Incentive Allotment, a program designed in 2019 to give “outstanding” teachers additional compensation.

“This bill ultimately provides ... an opportunity for all of our schools—all five and a half million students in Texas to get a better quality education,” Dutton said.

House Bill 100, by Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, would increase the amount of money schools receive from the state and adjust how some funding is determined. King’s bill also raises the minimum salaries for certain school employees.

Both bills are among House Speaker Dade Phelan’s top priorities for the legislative session.

Teacher vacancies

In March 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott established the Texas Teacher Vacancy Task Force, a coalition of teachers and administrators from across the state. Abbott directed the task force to study and provide solutions to address school staffing issues, including the recruitment and retention of teachers.

The task force released its final report in February, after approximately one year of work. The 53-page report outlines eight key recommendations to better support teachers, with specific information about how to implement each recommendation.

The task force asks state leaders to:
  1. Raise overall teacher compensation and provide support for schools to continue these investments
  2. Give teachers additional benefits, such as mental health services and decreased insurance costs
  3. Increase incentives and support for hard-to-staff areas, such as bilingual and special education positions
  4. Improve training opportunities for aspiring teachers
  5. Expand opportunities for teachers to receive mentorship and take on leadership positions
  6. Broaden access to high-quality instructional materials
  7. Demonstrate respect for teachers’ time and increase planning periods
  8. Provide additional counseling and administrative support
Both bills respond to recommendations from the task force.

The Texas Education Agency reported that 11.57% of public and charter school teachers—or over 42,800 people—left their jobs before the 2021-22 school year. This is the highest attrition, or departure, rate since the 2007-08 school year, when the TEA began collecting annual data.

Schools hired roughly 43,000 new teachers for the 2021-22 school year.

Funding struggles

Public schools across Texas have faced consistent funding challenges due to lower attendance rates that began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials from Pflugerville ISD, which is near Austin, previously told Community Impact the district lost roughly $1 million during the last 12 weeks of the 2021-22 school year.

State money is funneled into public districts through the basic allotment. Schools receive $6,160 for each student who regularly attends school. This means schools lose money if children are frequently absent, even if day-to-day operations do not change.

According to a report from policy nonprofit Every Texan, nearly 300,000 students were uncounted during the 2021-22 school year, due to recurring absences.

In response to inflation and increasing educational costs, public school advocates have asked the Legislature to raise the basic allotment. With inflationary adjustments, the basic allotment should reach at least $7,100, according to Raise Your Hand Texas, an education policy group.

Proposed solutions

HB 11, by Dutton, creates a new teacher residency program, which would allow aspiring teachers to co-teach in classrooms for one year. Universities and other teacher certification programs would partner with schools to place residents with experienced teachers.

After a year, schools could hire their residents.

The bill expands on a residency program that was created in 2013. Under the updated program, schools could receive an allotment of $22,000-$42,000 for each resident, and rural or “high-need” schools could potentially qualify for extra money. For residents working in bilingual or special education classrooms, schools would get an additional $2,000.

According to the bill, up to 50% of each resident’s salary could be covered by the allotment.

To help early career teachers, HB 11 would also give schools $2,000 for each teacher who participates in a mentorship program, which pairs teachers with less than two years of experience with veteran educators.

Dutton’s bill increases the Teacher Incentive Allotment, a program aimed at paying six-figure salaries to high-performing teachers. Teachers who qualify for the allotment can receive additional amounts of money each year on top of their regular salaries.

Additionally, HB 11 would provide funds to help schools rehire retired teachers; require schools to adjust schedules to ensure teachers have time to meet student needs and plan for future lessons during the school day; and waive fees for teacher certification exams.

These initiatives are largely meant to improve teacher retention through increased support.

“If you don’t start with a quality teacher ... it’s gonna be hard for you to get to the other side of having quality students,” Dutton said.

HB 11 was approved by the House with a 145-3 vote on April 27. It now heads to the Senate.

HB 100, by King, raises the minimum salaries for teachers, librarians, nurses and counselors based on experience and certification.

“House Bill 100 is a historic bill that is infusing an estimated $4.5 billion into public education while making policy shifts that will support critical increases in teacher pay and greater predictability,” King said on the House floor.

Currently, the TEA requires that teachers with five years of experience receive at least $38,880 annually. King’s bill would raise that to $45,000 for someone without a teaching certificate and $50,000 for teachers who are certified.

HB 100 also adjusts the basic allotment, which has not changed since 2019.

The bill increases the basic allotment by $140 over the next two school years. During the 2023-24 school year, districts would receive $6,250 per student who attends school regularly—or a $90 increase. During the 2024-25 school year, the basic allotment would go up to $6,300—an additional $50 increase.

The TEA would also be required to adjust the basic allotment for inflation every two years.

The bill states that districts must use half of the basic allotment to pay school employees. The rest of the money would be available for other expenses, such as maintenance, construction, supplies and more.

This means school employees can expect raises if HB 100 becomes law. But at most, teachers will see an additional $80 per month next year, according to the Texas American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents Texas educators.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, proposed raising the basic allotment to $6,500, which he said would better support teachers and other school staff. The amendment failed.

HB 100 would also fund certain school programs, such as bilingual, early education, and gifted and talented classes, based on enrollment. This means that schools would receive funding for every student, rather than only those who attend class on a regular basis.

The House passed HB 100 on April 27 with a 141-3 vote. It now heads to the Senate.