This post is sixth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.
This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.
EFFECTIVE TEACHERS FOR EVERY STUDENT
The most important factor in student success is having qualified teachers in our classrooms. Texas has a serious teacher shortage. Teacher pay and benefits are not competitive with private sector pay for occupations requiring comparable knowledge and skills. To recruit and retain our best to teach, Texas Democrats advocate the following:
- raise teacher and support staff pay to levels exceeding the national average;
- extend quality state funded health insurance to all education employees;
- respect and safeguard the rights and benefits of education employees;
- guarantee that every class has a teacher certified to teach that subject;
- recruit and train teachers who reflect the state’s diversity;
- provide a mentor (a master teacher) for every novice teacher;
- base teacher pay and evaluations on multiple measures that give a full, rounded picture of student and teacher accomplishment, and oppose Republican plans to use narrow test results instead;
- provide retired teachers a cost-of-living increase to restore their pensions’ purchasing power, which has eroded more than 20 percent under Rick Perry and the Republicans since the last increase in 2001;
- repeal the federal government pension offset and windfall elimination provisions that unfairly reduce Social Security benefits for educational retirees and other public employees; and
- provide tuition credits and financial assistance for college students who become certified public school teachers and teach for a specified period of time in public schools.