Paying Our Debt to Our Texas Teachers

The great Henry Brooks Adams, the grandson and great grandson of American Presidents, famously said that “a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Adams was right when he said it.  He still is.  

Teachers are the great, yet, oftentimes, unsung, heroes of  our society. They are the molders of future leaders and help  prepare our young people with the tools, skills, and know ledge they need to enter the adult world; equipped to handle  whatever life throws at them and well-prepared to teach the  next generation of Americans.

Our school teachers, past and present, are owed a debt of  gratitude for their important work—a debt that can never  fully be paid. Texas voters will have the unique opportunity  to help right the score on November 7th when they cast  their votes in the General Election. 

I’m asking you to join me in supporting Proposition 9 on  the November General Election ballot. Prop. 9, if passed,  will provide the first cost-of-living adjustment since 2004 for  some 420,000 Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) retirees including teachers, administrative personnel, school  bus drivers, nurses, cafeteria workers, and more.

No Texas public-school employee who has retired since  September 1, 2004, has ever received a cost-of-living increase. That is 70% of TRS retirees! TRS annuitants are living on  an average monthly annuity of just $2,174. More than  140,000 receive $1,000 or less per month! 

Under Joe Biden, inflation is the highest it has been in forty  years. All TRS retirees are suffering from inflation, but longer-term retirees are hit hardest. Many are struggling to pay  their bills, and oftentimes are forced to make difficult choices  about food and medicine. No one should have to make those  choices, especially our retired teachers.  

As taxpayers you should know that, if passed, Prop. 9 will  not create a tax increase! The Texas Legislature has already  set aside the funds to make this happen with voter approval  using surplus funds. In fact, Prop. 9 has unanimous legislative support. Every single member of the Texas Senate and  House, both Democrats and Republicans, voted to support  this much-needed retirement increase for those educators  and other school personnel who have served our state and  our communities so well. 

Now, it’s up to us to support them with our votes. Election  Day is November 7th. Early voting begins Monday, October  23th, and continues through Friday, November 3rd.  

I’m a proud product of Texas public schools. I received a  great public education that helped make me the man I am  today. My teachers and other school leaders helped me to  prepare for college, business, and beyond. Many remain my  life-long friends and mentors. While education reform issues  being discussed by lawmakers during the special session of  the Texas Legislature must include a much-needed pay raise  for current Texas teachers, Texas voters can ensure on  November 7th that our retired teachers and other education  personnel get the cost-of-living increase they deserve and so  desperately need. 

Jacques Barzun, the historian, philosopher, and a Texan later  in life, wrote “teaching is not a lost art, but regard for it is a lost  tradition.” In just a few days from now, Northeast Texas voters can demonstrate we still hold our school teachers in  high regard by voting YES on Proposition 9.