More Texas Schools Dealing with Teacher Shortages

posted by Jim Forsyth - 

As shortages of teachers continue in many Texas districts, some schools are getting creative to cope with the shortage, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods, who heads the fourth largest school district in Texas, says teacher shortages get the most attention in rural areas, but that isn't the only place where that is happening.

"Generally you can find folks to teach math and science," he said.  "It is really challenging to find somebody who can teach the advanced math, the calculus and things like that.  That's a really hard thing to find."

Woods says bilingual teachers and teachers who can teach trades, especially at the district's many career-driven magnet schools, like Health Careers, Communication Arts, Construction Careers Academy, and Business Careers are also difficult to find.

"We create a list of what we know we are going to struggle find, and I will allocate resources to it, stipend those people, as we're recruiting," he said.

Not only is the Texas economy essentially at full employment, but schools are facing a double-whammy as they try to attract teachers.  Due to the growth in the state's immigrant population, the school age population is growing faster than the adult population, largely because immigrants tend to be younger than the population as a whole.

The strong economy has allowed people who are skilled in various areas to demand far higher pay than teachers can receive, especially after the Legislature has slowed the growth of teacher pay in recent sessions.

In addition, rural school districts are having additional problems because of the general depopulation of rural Texas.

Woods says some schools are getting really creative.He says some classrooms have 'virtual' teachers, where the teacher teaches the kids via video hook up, and students can ask questions through a microphone.

Some districts in other states are also going to a four day classroom week, to make teaching a more attractive field for young professionals.

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