This story accompanies KXAN’s investigative project on Texas teacher resignations called “The Exit: Teachers Leave. Students Suffer.“
Austin (KXAN) – A survey of more than 20,000 Texas teachers found “personal overload” was the number one issue cited by educators who recently quit or retired, according to the Texas Education Agency data released on Tuesday.
Jean Streepy, a Highland Park middle school teacher and Texas Teacher Vacancy Task Force member told lawmakers on Tuesday additional expectations on teachers at the onset of the pandemic worsened the ongoing teacher shortage in the state.
“What is new are the expectations to implement the technology, substitute for little or no pay, mentor new teachers, and take on additional tutoring,” Streepy said. “We are simply wearing out the people we want to keep.”
Two months before the school year started in 2021, the Governor signed into law HB 4545 – giving school districts fewer than two months to figure out how to provide 30 hours of extra tutoring to more than a half million students in the state.
Rep. Harold Dutton, who wrote the bill, said in an interview Monday he plans to fix the law this upcoming session– including reducing the number of hours required for each student and providing funding to help hire tutors and other resources.
“I hear the problems. I kind of knew that when we passed this bill, because we passed it under some rather strange circumstances. But I knew teachers being the kind of people they were, would take it and make it work.”
Rep. Dutton, D-Houston, said the committee will re-examine the state’s recapture system, which requires the most property-rich school districts to pay back money to the state then it is distributed to poorer districts in the state, and state mandated salary minimums.
“If we don’t make changes such that we get the salary schedule bumped up, moved up and started towards the place it ought to be just like before we will lose more and more teachers and the real victims in this is the students,” Rep. Dutton said.
TEA Deputy Commissioner Kelvey Oeser told lawmakers during the hearing Tuesday they should consider ways to improve working conditions for teachers, including expanding support.
“The documentation teachers go through in their classroom is unbelievable,” Texas State Rep. Brad Buckley, R- Bell County, said. “For everything we ask them to do, we need to take two things away.”