Robb Elementary surveillance footage. Photo Credit Wikipedia

K-12 schools have had a challenging few years. From the COVID-19 pandemic to online schooling, students, teachers and parents have had to juggle and navigate the unknown. There are several important issues for K-12 schools; however, the top ones are teacher salaries and safety.

At least 84% of Texans polled said a teacher affected them in at least one positive way when they were in K-12 schools, and several were affected in multiple positive ways. Eighty-nine percent of Texans support higher salaries for teachers.

Data sourced from the Charles Butt Foundation’s  2023 Texas Education Poll

In light of an ever-increasing number of school shootings nationwide, school safety is another hot-button issue for parents in Texas. Fifty-three percent of Texans feel students in their own community have a moderate risk of being involved in a school shooting, and 41% feel their children are at moderate risk. That’s way too high.

Secondary K-12 Issues

  • Ideology – 18%
  • Education Quality – 16%
  • Teacher Workforce – 16%
  • School Funding – 12%

Eighteen percent of Texans state that ideology is important, and 16% say education quality is paramount, while 16% state that the teacher workforce is essential. Finally, school funding comes in at 12%. Texas residents also worry about how students are treated during the school day.

Robb Elementary School video surveillance – Source Wikipedia

Risks that poll respondents said were an issue are cyberbullying and physical bullying. After that, sexual discrimination and discrimination based on learning abilities are also an issue. Discrimination based on racial background was also mentioned in the poll, and 54% said it’s a problem or something they’re worried about. Mass school shootings are also on the mind of Texas residents.

Overworked & Underappreciated

Seventy-four percent of Texas residents feel teachers get too little respect and are undervalued in society, while 66% think teachers are overworked. Only 39% of Texans say they want their child to become a teacher, which is the lowest rate since those statistics started being recorded.

Teachers Being Held Hostage?

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, a member of the appropriations committee, says, “The teachers are being held hostage to this policy decision when we are actually doing some good things in this budget to increase salaries for everybody else.”

State Rep Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat and member of the budget-writing committee who voted against the budget, says, “Money for a property tax cut doesn’t put gasoline in the school bus.” Fischer said, “Money from a tax cut doesn’t put new ovens in the cafeteria. It does nothing to fix the leaky roof in the gym or pay more for food service workers and bus drivers. I worry there is no safety net if these contingencies do not come to pass.”

It should be stated that the proposed budget includes giving the Texas Education Agency $1.1 billion this year to award grants to school districts and another $300 million directly to school districts.

As time winds down on a final ruling for the 2023 budget, teachers look like they’ll be left on the outside looking in. The budget will go to Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar before it finds the desk of Governor Greg Abbott.

This story is brought to you by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in partnership with Word In Black.