State Lawmakers Study Teacher Shortages And Retention Rates
According to the Texas Education Agency and data compiled by the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the state as a whole does not have a shortage of teachers, but for many school districts, finding educators that can teach English as a second language or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math programs can be a real challenge.
Patty Quinzi is with the Texas American Federation of Teachers and says some school districts are in a real crisis when it comes to hiring the right teachers for the right job.
“If you look at certain districts that have lower property wealth values you are going to find more teachers that are not certified to teach the subject in which they are teaching. So in that respect there is a shortage of properly certified teachers in the areas that are most needed," Quinzi explained.
Quinzi said lawmakers have a specific program at their disposal. It’s called the Educational Aide Exemption or “Grow Your Own Teacher” Program, where the school districts can offer classroom aides with specialized degrees from a previous career access to teaching certificates.
“One great thing about this Grow Your Own Teacher program, they have about 90 to 99 percent retention rate. The University of Florida did a study and they found that because these para-professionals already love the kids, they know what the classroom experience is like, they’re going to settle in and make a career out of it," Quinzi added.
The Senate’s Education and Higher Education committees are studying how to decrease the number of teachers leaving after a short time on the job. Quinzi said she and other teacher support groups will be asking lawmakers to increase the amount of state funding for the Educational Aide Exemption Program during the 2017 legislative session.