Houston ISD is hosting a hiring event on Saturday in hopes of recruiting teachers, administrators and support staff for the coming school year. It comes amid an ongoing teacher shortage throughout the state and the recent Texas Education Agency takeover of the district.
Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, believes higher wages and better working conditions will be key to alleviating the shortage.
"One of the main things that keeps people leaving the profession is when they realize that they have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet," she said. "They'll leave if they find another job that pays better because they don't have to work seven days a week or 16 hours a day."
Last summer, HISD's board of trustees approved an 11% pay raise for teachers in the district, bringing the average starting teacher salary in HISD to $61,500. This raise just about kept up with inflation, however, which reached just over 10% in Houston at its highest point in 2022, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.
Texas currently ranks 28th in the country in teacher pay, lagging $7,652 behind the national average. This legislative session, State Rep. James Talarico of Austin introduced House Bill 1548, which would give all public school teachers in the state a $15,000 pay raise. The bill is currently in committee. However, many conservative state leaders like Gov. Abbott have voiced more support for bills related to school vouchers.
Anderson said the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers launched its "Respect Us" Campaign earlier this year, and it's calling on the state to spend a portion of its near $33 billion budget surplus to increase all teacher salaries by at least $10,000, raise other school employees' salaries by 15% and impose limits on class sizes.
"We have to get safeguards in place so that teachers' morale is protected," she said. "Maybe then, we won't have these critical shortages like we currently do."
Some local public education advocates believe the recent TEA takeover of HISD may lead even more teachers to leave the district and worsen the shortage. However, Anderson said it is too soon to tell whether that will be the case.
At this weekend's event, HISD will be seeking teachers, librarians, nurses, teachers' assistants, counselors, assistant principals and substitute teachers.
The event will be this Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Booker T. Washington High School.