Commentary: Texans agree — It is time to invest in teachers

Each school day, 9 in 10 Texas schoolchildren enter a public school in communities across the state. Their experience and success in the classroom is the foundation of our future. While many people and factors influence the experience of our students, no one is more essential to their success than teachers.

For this reason, we must not hesitate to invest in public education by investing in our teachers.

In Texas, the strongest support for public schools comes from those who know schools best. Among parents with children currently attending public schools, 89 percent are satisfied with their child’s education, according to our
2023 poll on Texans’ attitudes toward public education.

Texans also acknowledge challenges in public schools. Although 82 percent of Texas parents say their child experiences a sense of belonging at school, two-thirds think their child is at risk of bullying or discrimination, and more than half of all Texans worry about school shootings. We must ensure every child is safe — their bodies, minds and hearts — at school.

Texas teachers are foundational to strong schools, serving students through successes and struggles, ups and downs, breakthroughs and tragedies. Teachers cultivate the individual and collective learning experiences in the classroom, weaving together key academic skills with powerful and engaging instruction that ultimately helps shape the future leaders of our state. It’s the intentional development of those skills — academic, social, workforce and leadership — that will equip each student with a lifetime of opportunities as adult Texans.

When asked about their own education growing up in our state, 84 percent of Texan adults recall a teacher’s positive influence in their lives. Teachers matter.

Our polling shows the path forward is simple and urgent: We must invest in Texas teachers now. Eighty-nine percent of Texans support increasing state funding to boost teacher salaries. This support is strong across age groups, political affiliation and geography. Texans believe teachers deserve a professional salary commensurate with all they have done for generations of Texans and all they continue to do for our students and our communities.

Texas students deserve teachers who are valued, respected and passionate about teaching an ever-changing body of students in an ever-changing world. It is time to invest in Texas educators the same way they invest in our children and in the future of our state.

Shari Albright is the head of the Charles Butt Foundation and guides programs designed to raise the quality of teachers and school leaders, boost collaboration among families, schools and communities, and apply a combination of technology and classroom teaching to improve student performance.