SAN ANTONIO – Public teacher supporters say districts are at a pivotal time when they must change the status quo to retain teachers and make the profession attractive for future educators.
In May, San Antonio ISD teacher Luke Amphlett was on the fence about whether or not he would return to teach the next school year. He said he was unhappy about the amount of out-of-classroom work that was being required of educators.
Amphlett said the message from a new SAISD leader changed his mind.
“That message was a message of hope, and it made me think I can give it another year,” he said.
The 3% raise helped, as did the promise and intent by Superintendent Jaime Aquino to listen and look at where some of the workloads can be eased.
“People leave (teaching) when they feel like they’re not being respected, when they’re not being paid what they’re worth, what their level of education is, when they’re not being listened to,” Aquino said.
Aquino’s promise is to raise the district to become a destination for educators.
“I think the teachers know that I understand what it is to be in a classroom and that I am committed to making sure that we implement changes that they find the profession more rewarding,” he said.
Monty Exter with the Association of Texas Professional Educators said more has to be done at the local, state and national levels to keep current teachers and make the profession more appealing to future educators.
“We need to dramatically increase the support and the rigor in the pipeline so that we can produce more high-quality educators,” Exter said. “We are also going to have to make the profession more attractive from a financial standpoint in order to recruit significantly more high-quality educators into the profession.”
To get by, some districts have turned to teaching waivers, which allow qualified applicants without a teaching certificate to fill vacancies.
The waiver, also known as an emergency teaching certificate requires a bachelor’s degree or relevant work experience.
The certification is valid for three years Then, a permanent teaching certification is required.
It’s a temporary solution, but without those permits, SAISD would be facing a bigger shortage.
“Our main shortage area and those 60 vacancies are bilingual and special education, which are a critical shortage shortages area for the country,” Aquino said.
District officials say emergency teaching permits and hiring bonuses are only temporary fixes. Aquino said it’s up to state and national leaders to make public education a better-paid career.