AUSTIN – The Texas House’s vote last night to punish its best teachers will undermine the state’s objectives to improve teacher quality and student performance, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

“The House’s action last night was shameful,” said Jamie Story, education policy analyst for the Foundation. “They slashed the pay of our best teachers, precisely the ones we need to encourage to stay in the classroom.”

By a 90-56 vote, the House adopted an amendment by Rep. Rick Noriega to completely de-fund the state’s incentive pay program for its best teachers and instead allocate those funds through a negligible across-the-board pay raise. Full-time teachers, nurses, librarians, and counselors will get a raise less than $900, but the excellent teachers who received the incentive pay will see their pay cut by up to $10,000.

“The members who claim this as a pay raise are either misinformed or misleading the public,” Story said. “This is not a teacher pay raise, as average pay will remain the same. Those members only shifted dollars from excellent teachers to ineffective ones.”

“In every school, there are teachers who are outstanding and hard-working, and also teachers who are mediocre and indifferent,” Story continued. “Across-the-board pay raises make no distinction between these two groups. We need to reward the former and purge the latter.”

Story also noted that part of the teacher incentive program was designated for low-income schools, whereas the Noriega amendment applies equally to all districts. “Low-income schools will lose funding, while wealthier schools will gain,” she said. “Many of the Noriega amendment’s supporters will be in for a rude awakening when their local schools lose out.”

The Foundation will re-double its efforts to educate lawmakers on the virtues of incentive pay. Story urged the Senate to fully restore the incentive pay amount in its appropriations bill and to hold firm on the issue in the budget conference committee.

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