Teachers voice concerns over finances, benefits at Longview educ - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Teachers voice concerns over finances, benefits at Longview education rally

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(Source: Viewer Jennifer Myers) (Source: Viewer Jennifer Myers)

Pay raises, pensions, and health insurance funding are the concerns East Texas teachers hope to bring to state lawmakers.

More than 800 education workers attended a rally held in front of the Gregg County Courthouse on those subjects and more on Wednesday. With signs and banners, a big crowd of current and former educators turned out to express their concerns over the state of educators in Texas.

"I stayed in the system 45 years, have never had one raise yet, " said retired teacher Susan Cox. "The lack of public support for public education and the legislators have totally left us out to dry. They've upped our insurance, given no cost of living raises, and we need help." 

Madeline Scott, a retired Longview teacher, hopes to make a statement. 

"I'm hoping we make a statement about our benefits," said Scott.

Of crucial concern are rising health care costs, pay issues, and the lack of a cost-of-living increase in over a decade for retired teachers.

"Education appeared to have a target on it in the regular legislative session," says retired educator Susanne Bardwell. "We're going to be paying one-half to one-third of our pension on insurance alone. We're going to pay more for less,"

Brent Beal, whose wife is an educator, said that the government needs to keep the promises they made to educators. 

"If they were promised health care, if they were promised retirement, that's not something that we should just pull out from underneath them, " said Beal.

"We made a promise to them and they did their job, they held up their end of the bargain. And for politicians to yank that away after they retire, that's something that shouldn't happen," said Beal. 
Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt, spoke of the critical importance of teachers.
"Teacher attrition rates are way too high. Given that you are the builders of our future, losing even one good teacher is one too many," Stoudt said.
How bad is it? Many say they simply can't make it on a teacher’s salary alone.
"I just passed my exam to be a real estate agent to help save for retirement, " said White Oak teacher Stacy Shellhorse. "As a teacher, half of our salary goes to health insurance." 

And if the state won't listen, they say they'll use their voting power.

The rally was held to let legislators and the public know of their concerns before the legislature's special session beginning July 18.

Rally organizers say Governor Abbott has called for a $1,000 pay raise for Texas teachers, but it is unman-dated.
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