FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/12/2015
TEACHERS HAVE DONE THEIR JOBS, NOW WE MUST DO OURS
Austin- Rep. Abel Herrero, Robstown, introduced legislation to assist teachers by confronting overpopulated classrooms, excessively expensive textbooks, and by providing benefits that would attract new teachers to the profession while retaining those who have dedicated their lives to education. Unless the state immediately addresses these matters, these issues will continue to adversely affect Texas' teachers and public school system.
"The time to act is now" Rep. Herrero said. "Teachers are struggling to keep their heads above water as they face increasing professional standards with fewer resources and inadequate benefits. Do more with less can no longer be the mantra when it comes to our educators."
Large classroom sizes and a lack of quality instructional materials makes the already difficult job of teaching nearly impossible. House Bills 3262 and 3260 offer reprieve to teachers by capping class sizes at 17 students for grades K-4 and by creating a study on the use of "open-source" textbooks. Ultimately, this legislation would allow teachers to devote more attention to each student during critical developmental ages while exploring new ways to provide them with high-quality educational tools at a minimal cost.
Upon retirement, teachers should be rewarded, rather than punished, for the invaluable service they provide to our state. The Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination provisions, however, unfairly penalize public school teachers by denying them benefits the majority of retirees are eligible to receive. HCR 82 calls upon Washington to repeal both of these federal provisions and give teachers access to benefits they have earned. Furthermore, under Texas statute, increases in cost-of-living are not automatically accounted for in teachers' retirement benefits. House Bill 3259 would provide a 3% cost-of-living adjustment to eligible teachers, thus incentivizing current educators to stay in the field while attracting qualified individuals to enter the profession.
"It is imperative to provide teachers with the environment and tools necessary to succeed within the classroom, while also ensuring we take care of them beyond their days of teaching," Rep. Herrero said. "It is my hope that these bills will dramatically help our educators and progress public education in Texas on multiple fronts."
Rep. Herrero is now serving in his fifth term as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He currently chairs the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence and serves on the House Committee on Energy Resources. He represents District 34, which includes Robstown, Bishop, Banquete, Petronila, Agua Dulce, Driscoll and parts of Corpus Christi and Sandia.