The American Federation of Teachers met with Houston-area school leaders Tuesday to host a roundtable discussion to discuss short- and long-term solutions to address the teacher shortage across the state of Texas.
According to the American Federation of Teachers, 43,000 Texas teachers left the education system at the end of last school year.
“We know that the job will not be accomplished alone, it will take all of us working together, not just the employees and the teachers and the staff of the schools, but also the school districts and their leaders and the members of the school board,” he said. AFT President Zeph Capo.
Many local school districts have faced challenges in filling teacher pools and retaining the current teachers they have.
Leaders came up with six suggestions that could possibly solve the problem: find ways to hire new teachers and retain current ones, increase employee pay, reduce class sizes to better support teachers and students, provide comprehensive services in schools and demand respect for the teaching profession.
“Teaching is the profession that helps and grows all the rest,” said AFT National President Randi Weingarten. “It’s time if we want to prepare our children for today and tomorrow, to respect educators.”
Weingarten also said that all children deserve the same resources no matter what district or type of education they are receiving.
“We want to have conditions in all schools, not just schools in rich districts, not just private schools,” he said. “We want every school to have sports, have a band, have clubs and have the kind of extracurricular activities that I know I thrived on.”
One way leaders are working to get new teachers is by implementing two new programs, the University of Houston has an Accelerated Certification Program and Texas A&M University-Commerce’s Pride Pathways program for prospective teachers already working in the school system.
“One of the big areas that attention has been focused on is the fact that the pipeline to education has been drying up,” Capo said. “Too many children no longer have an interest in studying.”
Capo said many teachers enter the education profession through an alternative certification program, spend thousands of dollars, and lose interest in the profession.
“In many cases, we don’t retain the ones we actually bring into the classroom for more than a year,” he said.
Houston ISD increased teacher pay by 11%, which has been a major concern among teachers. Director of Talent Dr. Jeremy Grant Skinner said HISD will continue to look for ways to support current and new teachers.
“Today was a great opportunity for us to come together as representatives of school districts, as representatives of employee associations at the local, state, and federal levels, as institutions of higher education, and as legislative advocates to explore ways that we can ensure that can recruit and retain excellent educators and support staff in all of our schools,” he said.
HISD has a Community Teacher Equity Development Program that was implemented by AFT and the University of Houston. The program allows prospective teachers to receive their Bachelor of Science in Teaching in Apprenticeship in 15 months while still working as a Paraprofessional. The district also has a free Alternative Certification Program.
Dr. Grant Skinner says that to continue compensating teachers and providing resources for potential teachers, state funding is needed. This year, Houston ISD allocated seven percent of its entire budget to add $159 million to employee pay.
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