By Scott Blair

There’s an argument over whether there’s a teacher shortage or not in Texas. However, if you dig deeper into the numbers, evidence points to yes, there is.

The state of Texas has experienced a shortage of teachers over the past few years, and it’s not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers are leaving for several reasons, such as low-pay. The average teacher makes $20.31 per hour in Texas. Plus, poor benefits, classroom sizes being too high for their liking, and statewide political fights have all contributed to this trend.

The dance between online and in-person lessons, mask debates, arguments over what should and shouldn’t be taught in the classroom, and classroom safety have all contributed to this compounding problem as well.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know about the teacher shortage in Texas. 

The Scope of the Teacher Shortage in Texas

The attrition rate, [how many teachers are leaving their jobs] is the biggest problem Texas is facing regarding its shortage.

 “We have a lot more teachers leaving the profession, which is creating a lot of additional vacancies.,”  Kelvey Oeser, Texas Education Agency (TEA’s) deputy commissioner of educator and system support, says. “We saw teacher attrition go up. What we don’t know is [if] it’s going to level out again, or are we going to see it continue to go up?” 

Retirement rates have also increased. Texas has experienced an average of 7,500 teachers retiring since the fiscal year of 2018. The latest numbers from the fiscal year 2021 show an increase to 8,600. However, the state added 26,000 new teachers for the 2021-22 school year.

Numbers Show an Increase in Teachers, But…

The most recent numbers appear to show an increase in teachers. The attrition rate in 2021-22 was 42,839, and the hire rate was 42,973. However, those numbers can be deceiving. The gap between new hires and teachers that are leaving has become increasingly smaller. For instance, it was 7,000 in 2020-21. For the most recent pre-pandemic year, the difference was around 1,000 teachers. Job openings have significantly eclipsed hiring since 2018.  

More Evidence of a Teacher Shortage 

The teacher shortage in Texas is complicated. Whether you agree with it or not, here are the most recent state-approved numbers according to the United States Department of Education (ED) and the TEA regarding shortages. 

  • Bilingual/English as a Second Language – Elementary and Secondary Levels
  • Special Education – Elementary and Secondary Levels
  • Career and Technical Education – Secondary Levels
  • Technology Applications and Computer Science – Elementary and Secondary Levels
  • Mathematics – Secondary Levels

Approved shortage areas help administrators support the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. 

Underqualified Teachers

Another prominent issue involving the teacher shortage is the hiring of under qualified educators to fill the gaps. Research by Annenberg University shows that, on average, per state, there are 136,000 teaching positions held by underqualified teachers. Underqualified teachers are those teaching subjects they don’t have a degree or training in. Plus, there’s been an increase in teachers in the workforce that have taken a one-year certification course instead of having a bachelor’s degree. 

Alternative Certifications

There’s been a boom of teachers in Texas that aren’t traditionally certified. For the reasons mentioned above, teachers are needed, and they’re needed fast. So, how can you help? You can become a certified teacher after taking a one-year course and passing a subsequent test. 

The biggest issue, however, is that research shows teachers who enter the education sector through these quick certification portals leave the job faster. This is another reason a teacher shortage has been compounded in Texas. 

What Should Be Done About It?

First and foremost, teachers should feel safe in the classroom. They should be able to do their job and not worry about getting hurt or worse. Plus, getting over the mask debate issue and the political infighting on lesson plans could help. Providing teachers with better benefits and smaller classroom sizes could help also. Teachers are extremely important worldwide, and we must treat them as such.