Texas teacher shortage: Houston ISD touts raises but admits more needed to retain workforce

Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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Educators and politicians are converging at the University of Houston to come to an "immediate" fix to rapid teacher shortages as a new school year gets underway.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Educators, politicians, and others met at the University of Houston on Tuesday to discuss ways to keep Texas teachers from leaving the classroom. They said it could be a blueprint to tackle this issue nationwide.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 43,000 Texas educators left the field in 2021, and Tuesday was intended to find immediate ways to keep that number from growing.

RELATED: How schools are trying to address the national teacher shortage

"Our members, they want to solve this crisis," AFT President Randi Weingarten said at a press conference following the closed-door meeting.

Houston Independent School District, which took part in the meetings, discussed the 11% raise it gave teachers for 2022 but acknowledged that more work needs to be done to keep educators in the classroom.

"(Tuesday) was a really good opportunity for us to come together, to explore ways to recruit and retain great educators and support staff from across our schools," HISD Chief Talent Officer Jeremy Grant-Skinner said.

HISD told ABC13 it is 95% staffed as of Tuesday and is working to fill the remaining 5%.

SEE ALSO: It's not just COVID-19: Why Texas faces a teacher shortage

Fort Bend ISD said it has 279 teacher vacancies, and Katy ISD said it has 200.

Conversely, both Klein and Channelview ISD's told ABC13 they're just under 100% staffed.

As for districts throughout the country with issues retaining staff, Weingarten said in June that educators are leaving because they've been "struggling for years with a lack of professional respect."

The solutions discussed included six main ideas. They want to expand the pipelines to increase access and entry into the profession, make certification more accessible, lower class sizes, provide schools with more wrap-around services, increase pay for teachers and administrators, and demand respect from elected officials.

Under those umbrellas, solutions also include mental health counseling, reimbursement plans for teachers who spend their own money on supplies, and programs that help staffers become teachers.

But no matter what comes from the discussions, the conclusion is that any solutions must be collaborative.

"We have to work together," AFT Texas President Zeph Capo said. "Districts, employees, legislatures, parents, and community."

WATCH: Teachers and officials gather to discuss 'immediate' solutions to shortages in Texas classrooms