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Shortly before the end of the third special session, House Public Education Committee Chairman Brad Buckley released text of a proposal that has become the House version of the school choice bill, HB1. It is strong, to say the least: the proposal makes every Texas child is eligible, provides tremendous resources and flexibility for parents, and prioritizes children with the greatest need.

But there’s also a lot in it to help recruit, retain, and reward the best teachers in Texas. The Chairman’s proposal:

  • increases public school funding by over $7 billion, including increases to teacher pay, on top of the $6.3 billion in new money already passed this year;
  • improves work / life balance by offering teachers the option to take paid leave separately from FMLA due to pregnancy or the birth or adoption of a child;
  • offers outstanding teachers a pathway to a six-figure salary, esp. teachers in low-income and rural communities, by offering an additional $3,000 – $42,000 on top of their current salary;
  • offers all Texas teachers a bonus of $4,000 for full-time teachers and $2,000 for part-time teachers in this 2023-24 school year, and sustains the increase by increasing the Basic Allotment; and
  • creates a residency program for aspiring new teachers to learn under an experienced teacher and offers $42,000 for each new teacher who receives a residency.

Opponents of ESA have said repeatedly there will be no compromise, no matter how much money public education gets or what benefits teachers receive.

If I were a teacher and confident in my ability to do my job, I’d be angry at the ESA opponents for leaving billions of dollars of new education funding on the table, including my pay raise and improved benefits. And I’d be deeply insulted that the premise of their opposition is that I’m so terrible at my job parents and students would jump at the chance to leave my classroom.