In this legislative session, the largest teachers’ union in Texas is focusing on teacher pay.

Throughout the legislative session, advocacy groups of all stripes make their way to the State House to advocate for their interests.

Among them are the Texas State Teachers’ Association, the largest teachers’ union in Texas, and an affiliate of the state’s National Education Association. TSTA President Ovidia Molina said she wants the state to channel part of its multibillion-dollar budget surplus into “totally funding public education.” This means something different in different regions, she says, but in general it means funding programs that districts must serve students.

“We expect our legislators to make sure they invest in our students, in their future,” she said. “Our rural communities need something different than our suburban and urban communities need.”

According to Molina, the urgent need now is to increase teachers’ salaries in the face of widespread teacher shortages.

“Our teachers need a pay rise,” she said. “I use the word ‘educators’ because our elected officials like to use the word ‘teachers’. But there are so many other professionals besides our teachers who also need pay increases in our school systems.”

» MORE: Here are five public education issues to keep an eye on during the 88th Texas Legislative Session.

Molina said TSTA polls show that many school workers need a second job to make ends meet and that the association will push for big pay increases that are not offset by things like rising health care costs.

Molina said the TSTA wants to hear the voices of teachers in conversations about schools and curricula, especially after the controversy over library books and in-class discussions about race and sexuality.

“The rhetoric coming from the people who ran for the positions that are now in power, trying to drive a wedge between parents and public schools, is a small group of high-profile people who have taken on the drama and created a problem. she said. “We all want to work together to ensure our students get the best education. And we’re going to continue to speak up and help parents understand that our doors are open. We want you to be in our schools; we want you to ask questions.” “.

» TELL US: What do you want to see from the Texas Legislature in 2023?

Molina said she expects bipartisan support for education, especially from Republicans who represent rural areas where communities don’t have many alternatives to the public school system.

“We know we have representatives on both sides who support our public schools, especially in our rural communities where they feel school districts need to get really creative in making sure they have teachers before students so that they are programs that need funding,” she said. “We need to be as vocal as the other side that says we are only hurting our students because we know we become educators to help our students provide them with the best education and brightest future. ”

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