Teacher Shortage Crisis Worsening
A new and revealing study shows teacher vacancies have risen 35 percent among the 37 states analyzed, including Louisiana and Texas.
The teacher shortage crisis is going from bad to worse. That’s according to the latest analysis by researchers from Brown University, on what has become an increasingly intractable problem across the country and here in the Red River Radio listening area. As the Washington Post first reported in late August, the team discovered that teacher vacancies have grown by 35 percent in the 37 states examined, in recent years. Those states include Texas and Louisiana.
Tracey Burrell, Ed.D., from Bossier Parish Schoolsexplains how their district has been working to offset the losses. “With the teacher shortage and challenges with finding quality teachers in the pipeline, many districts are moving to grow your own programs so that they can identify individuals that may be interested in joining the path of teacher certification.”
If Dr. Burrell’s name sounds familiar, it’s likely because she is the host of the Red River Radio monthly podcast known as “Teach, Reach, and Inspire.” She primarily serves as the recruitment and retention supervisor for Bossier Schools.
Burrell has more than 20 years of teaching experience in Louisiana and Alabama. This gives her insights into the motivations, the challenges, and the obstacles today’s teachers may face on any given day. Burrell says coordination with local colleges and universities is a key component in making this “grow your own” model a success. “To work with the universities, to partner with them to find education majors and bridge them into the district through residency programs,” explained Burrell, adding, “It was to look at paraprofessionals and see which paraprofessionals may be interested in moving on a track to teacher certification, and supporting them along the way.”
Teacher preparation programs in Louisiana include a year-long residency alongside an expert mentor, and a competency-based curriculum. It also requires a four-year commitment.
But such efforts are not expected to completely compensate for all the departing teachers, especially in the South, which has far greater shortages.
In a story broadcast earlier this year, National Public Radio reported that the teacher shortage is blamed largely on low pay, a strong economy, bitter politics and burnout. Recruiting and retention programs include benefits like stipends, bonuses, and those mentor programs. But here again, there is potential trouble on the horizon.
In a commentary in May of this year, by the prestigious think tank the Brookings Institution, it cited a U.S. Department of Education report, which showed declining enrollments in teacher preparation programs, as well.
Burrell explains how these days, more than ever, instruction in the classroom constitutes only some of the expectations for being a teacher. “And so, it is challenging those teachers are serving as nurses, they’re serving as doctors, they’re serving as counselors, along with classroom instructional leaders. And so, it’s a very tough job and we’re, we’re very honest about that as we recruit people,” as Burrell cautions, “It is a noble profession, but it’s a very intense profession.”
Burrell also told us about a new grow your own initiative entitled Educators Rising. This program exposes middle and high school students to various aspects of the teaching profession.
Burrell added that one exciting component of this program is that students get to compete in local, regional, state, and even national competitions to develop the soft skills needed to effectively lead classroom instruction.
The first of two events is Coaching Session on Tuesday, October 17 from 10-11:30 a.m. This involves coaching a group of students on how to effectively script and deliver a creative lecture (Ted Talk style).
One month later, there’s also a need for a competition judge for Tuesday, November 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Both events will take place at our Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) campus.
Burrell asks that if you or someone you know is willing to serve in either of these areas then include the category of interest when you contact the district through email.