Teachers rally at Capitol for more pay

A rally of teachers and education support staff at the Texas Capitol Monday was not as large as those held during past legislative sessions.

The smaller size was made up with a bigger volume from the cheers. Among those attending was El Paso Librarian Lisa Lopez. She brought her husband and daughter on the10 hour trip instead of going to the beach. 

She had no regrets giving up the first part of their Spring Break.

“Not at all, I wouldn't have missed this for the world, this is Amazing, there is a band, there's people here, everybody is in Red. It’s really exciting,” said Lopez.

The group brought banners and signs. Some creative, others right to the point, which urged lawmakers to follow through with the promise to reform public education funding. For many, the rally almost had the feeling of a victory party; almost.

"We've been seeing it little by little and I think this year we are going to win,” said Channelview ISD Read Specialist Pam Stelly. 

Education reform is an emergency item for state lawmakers. From the Senate; there’s a $5,000 pay bump for teachers and librarians, as well as extra cash based on job performance. A more comprehensive package from the house also raises pay but that proposal leaves it up to school boards to decide who gets the money and by how much. The difference in opinion about which is the better deal is not limited to those debating under the capitol dome. 

"I like the $5,000 plus the Librarian because I feel we deserve the it we've been waiting for a long time, we haven't had a pay increase form the state in many years, I’m afraid if we give it to the school districts we may not get all the monies we deserve,” Patricia Sosa, a 4th Grade math teacher.

Dynell Hall, who works at Galena ISD thinks local control would mean more staff will get more money.

"Let the school board ... More long term,” said Hall.

While there is confidence change is coming - uncertainly of what it will look like had rally organizers, like TSTA President Noel Candelaria issuing a warning.

"We are encouraged by the emphasis on education, and the early attention to school funding, and the pay raise Bills, but nothing has been delivered yet." 

A pay hike is not the only issue for those here at the rally. There is also a call for increases in Teacher retirement and reforming their Healthcare Plans.

"We put in a lot of time and energy in our future, right now, in our future, and I think it would be nice to have that comfort of knowing that when we do get to that ripe old age, we have something to fall back on. And that is not going to be jeopardized by greed,” said Cy-Fair teacher Natalie Torres. 

A final grade for lawmakers may not happen when the session ends in May. It could come later at the ballot box.