Help in funding recommended as teacher group tries to get more educators in classrooms

New report focuses on three ways the State of Texas can help retain and recruit teachers
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 9:34 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:30 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Educators across Texas are trying to promote a new set of recommendations they believe will help with the state-wide teacher shortage.

The goal is to help retain teachers and attracting new ones. In a recently released 53-page report, a special group of teachers focused on three key issues: compensation, training and support, and working conditions.

Read that report here: Developing a Thriving Teacher Workforce in Texas

But the biggest talking point remains low pay. Now, teachers are hoping someone will take action to get more educators in the profession.

“It was reflective of, we don’t need help developing. We don’t have a problem developing as educators. We need help with funding,” Rick Rodriguez said.

Currently, Rodriguez is the chief operations officer for the Lubbock Independent School District. He is also one of the handful of educators and administrators asked to be on the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, which put out the new report.

“The No. 1 reason is because of pay and so that has to be the biggest piece of the pie,” Rodriguez said. “The most talked-about topic.”

Added to that was adjusting health insurance and retirement costs. That way teachers are able to bring more money home after pay day.

Another point, giving teachers better training like paid, one-year residencies, something similar to what Lubbock ISD already does.

“If you’re truly preparing yourself to be a teacher during that time you cannot work at night and come and do student teaching during the day. It’s just not feasible,” Rodriguez said.

Training is something people like Donna Brasher, with Texas Tech, are also looking into. The College of Education is rolling out a new alternative-certification system called Raider Teach.

The goal is to allow people without an education degree to enter into the career field. That goes online this summer.

“You wouldn’t have to go all the way back through the university process to get a different degree in order to become a teacher,” Brasher, the director of certification and accountability with the College of Education, said.

The third focal point from the report is providing better working conditions and support for those in the classroom. Now that students are returning to the classroom after pandemic shut downs, educators are seeing new forms of stresses and trouble.

This extends beyond the students and is one of the complaints from many teachers who have left the industry and remain in the classroom.

“There is so much pressure for a teacher that it really makes it difficult on top of a low salary just to stay in the profession,” Brasher said.

The work now is to press lawmakers and the Texas Education Agency to make the changes.

But, that is something Rodriguez says will take time.

“And as a profession we have to be patient and diligent at the same time to make sure these recommendations don’t just get put on a shelf,” he said. “But rather (say) hey, it’s 2023-24, where are we on this? Where are we on this? And where are we on this?”