The Texas Classroom Teachers Association has reviewed the recent report from the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, which offers recommendations to the Texas Legislature on the key areas of teacher compensation, training and support, and working conditions.
Although TCTA appreciates that the task force seems to have recognized many of the concerns Texas teachers are facing, overall, the report’s resulting recommendations are disappointing.
“Instead of making bold recommendations that meet the severity of need demonstrated by the current crisis in the teacher workforce, many of the recommendations nibble around the edges of existing programs and constructs, are broadly stated, and lack specific tangible actions to take,” said Holly Eaton, TCTA’s director of professional development and advocacy. “It’s a missed opportunity, when the state is experiencing a record budget surplus, to promote strong and meaningful changes to shore up the profession at a time when teachers need it most.”
For example, the recommended mechanism for raising salaries is within the same construct that has been in place for years, under which teacher salaries have not kept up with inflation or increases in funding to schools.
The task force cited the very real problem that 40% of newly hired teachers come from alternative certification programs or are not certified, and data shows that these less-prepared teachers are more likely to leave the profession. But the task force makes no recommendations on how to specifically address improving education preparation programs in the alternative certification pathway in particular.
Student discipline is consistently cited by teachers as a key reason for leaving the profession. Yet, although the task force recommends expanded access to additional counseling staff, services and partnerships to ensure student needs are addressed proactively so teachers can focus on teaching (and preparation/training), it missed the opportunity to specify tangible ways to do this, such as increasing the school safety allotment to provide funding for campus behavioral specialists to assist classroom teachers and improve the quality of disciplinary alternative education programs.
Increased additional duties and decreased protected non-instructional time are also among the top reasons teachers cite as reasons to leave the profession. Although the report does recommend that the Legislature should fund a time study to examine all duties of a teacher with the intended outcome to better streamline teacher tasks, the associated recommendations referred to things like freeing up time to “internalize high-quality instructional materials,” when teachers are actually asking for more time to plan and collaborate with their peers, and to achieve an improved work-life balance.
In short, the task force's chosen ways of addressing the issues that educators have clearly pointed to as reasons for driving them out of the profession are not likely to provide immediate and sufficient relief to the more than 360,000 teachers in Texas.
Holly Eaton talked with KXAN this week about the task force's recommendations. Read the article and watch the video here.