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Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: Texas Teachers Paid "Very Fair Salary"


by: Ben Sherman

Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 03:00 PM CST



David Dewhurst at the Jan. 16 debate in Montgomery, TX

In a debate against his Republican primary opponents on Thursday, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst made a ludicrous claim.

"At the end of the day, we're paying our school teachers - when you count in cost of living - a very fair salary," Dewhurst said about education. "We need to have better results. We need to make sure that we're not just paying more money and we need to look at more choice for parents."

In reality, Texas teachers are some of the lowest-paid in the country taking home an average of $48,100 annually. That's more than $8,000 below the national average. Texas ranks 38th among the states and D.C. in teacher pay. Dewhurst's claim about cost of living is also dead wrong -- according to a Sam Houston State University survey, 44 percent of Texas teachers take second jobs during the school year to make ends meet.

The Texas State Teachers Association has something to say about Dewhurst glossing over the plight of Texas teachers in an effort to justify not funding schools.

More below the jump.

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"To David Dewhurst, a teacher's classroom may as well be a foreign land," said Texas State Teachers Association President Rita Haecker in a statement. "Teachers are dedicated professionals who work under difficult circumstances that state leaders should try to improve, not dismiss with inaccurate statements designed to cover up their failure to provide for our children's classrooms."

Dewhurst's lack of interest in improving Texas education is glaring. The quote his "very fair" claim comes from is also notable for its complete lack of substance. The only reform he notes for a system that produces some of the least educated Americans in the country is "choice for parents". That means charter schools, amorphous private entities receiving public money to "educate" students standards-free.

This is the same Dewhurst who championed the $5.4 billion in education cuts that Texas families suffered over the last few years.

David Dewhurst is a danger to Texas children.

TSTA's release:

TSTA: Dewhurst out of touch with teachers

In remarks to The Texas Tribune today, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst demonstrated he is out of touch with the needs of Texas teachers, ignores their financial reality and doesn't understand what effective classroom instruction requires.

Dewhurst wrongly said that the average teacher salary in Texas is "a little north of (more than) $50,000" and, when national cost-of-living differences are factored in, "Texas pays our school teachers well above a 50 percent median."

"To David Dewhurst, a teacher's classroom may as well be a foreign land," said Texas State Teachers Association President Rita Haecker. "Teachers are dedicated professionals who work under difficult circumstances that state leaders should try to improve, not dismiss with inaccurate statements designed to cover up their failure to provide for our children's classrooms."

Dewhurst also suggested the state may consider more online instruction "so we can give our children the best education possible."

"Technology is essential in 21st century education," Haecker said. "But the heart of a world-class education is a classroom teacher who can give students the individual attention at the heart of the learning experience."

FACT CHECK:

- The average teacher pay in Texas for the 2012-13 school year, the most recent data available, was $48,110 - more than $8,000 below the national average.

- Far from ranking in "the median," Texas ranked 38th among the states and D.C. in teacher pay.

- The average Texas teacher pay dropped by $528 following the $5.4 billion in school budget cuts imposed by Dewhurst and the legislative majority during the 2011 session.

- According to a Sam Houston State University survey commissioned by TSTA last spring, the cost of living in Texas cities is high enough that 44 percent of Texas teachers take second jobs during the school year to make ends meet, and the average Texas teacher spends $697 a year out of pocket for school supplies because the school finance system is so poorly funded.

Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer said in a statement: "Everyday Texans would be appalled to hear that out-of-touch Republican David Dewhurst is just looking for his next million dollar payday instead of minding the store. Middle class Texans are struggling every day to pay bills and take care of their families. We need a Lt. Governor that's more interested in funding our local public schools, expanding quality healthcare, and building small businesses, rather than a rich politician preoccupied with their next big payday."



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