KXAN Austin

New recommendations to address TX teacher shortage

AUSTIN (KXAN) — You’ve heard KXAN report multiple times about the severe teacher shortage facing so many Texas school districts. On Wednesday, possible real-life fixes were announced in the form of policy recommendations from hundreds of educators around the state. 

More than 400 Texas teachers, counselors, administrators, student teachers, and other school personnel from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) responded to a survey seeking feedback on why educators are leaving the profession. 

Workload, compensation, disconnection, and students were some factors causing the mass exodus.  Many educators said that students’ time away from the structure of school routines, as well as loosened requirements during the pandemic, such as passing to the next grade without demonstrating mastery, have hindered students’ behavior and academic habits. 

‘Let Us Teach!’ was the biggest takeaway from educators like Round Rock ISD teacher Stephanie Stoebe to the state education leaders and lawmakers.

She, along with those ATPE members who completed the survey, helped the organization craft a list of policy recommendations for the state’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force.  She saw a lot of common themes among the respondents.  

“To say that I feel like a child wrangler, or that there’s nothing left to give, or I feel, I don’t feel valued. That’s not a good thing to have in common with someone else who is in the same situation,” Stoebe said. 

Based on survey responses, ATPE had four detailed recommendations which include honoring the work/life balance by developing leave pools and compensation for hours outside of the normal workday. The organization is also pushing for employing retired teachers to serve as paid mentors. Educators also hope that veteran workers are paid based on their experience.

The association’s lobbyist, Andrea Chevalier, Ph.D., says some lawmakers are already reacting to the recommendations.   

“I think what they’re {lawmakers} looking for, is let’s think about exact solutions,” Chevalier said. “‘Is there a bill that should come out of this? Or when we’re looking at bills should there be red flags, things that we might want to take out of a bill or put in?'” 

She says school boards should also re-think how to allocate resources. ATPE says educators overwhelmingly express that they feel unable to teach because their plates are unrealistically overloaded, which, over time, has caused them to feel broken and unsuccessful in both their professional and personal lives. 

KXAN reached out to the Texas Education Agency to see if it is considering any of these recommendations. We will let you know when we hear back. According to its website, the agency is adding new members to the Teacher Vacancy Task Force before its next meeting in June.