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Massive Staff Shortages At School Districts Across Texas

Students return to class next month, and school districts all around the state feel the pinch
Photo: VCoscaron | Shutterstock

With students' impending return around the corner, school districts across the country are desperately trying to fill positions. Fewer teachers will mean crowded classrooms and an unsustainable workload. 

In North Texas, Dallas ISD has 1,000 vacant teaching positions according to its website. Houston is short in nearly the same amount, while Austin is looking for 570 instructors. 

Speaking with KERA News, Dallas ISD art teacher Katrina Rasmussen described the situation, saying, “There’s been a steady undercurrent on various social media platforms of ‘I need to get out,’ like the ship is sinking and we’re all scrambling for the lifeboats.”

As reported by Brookins, after five semesters of constantly changing mandates, and the mental health struggles teachers endured in the pandemic. By March 2021, 42% of teachers said they’d considered leaving or retiring during the previous year and more than half of those teachers said it was because of COVID-19. A survey conducted by the National Education Association shows that number to be conservative, and their results show that 55% of 3 million teachers say they intend to leave their profession earlier than originally planned. 

But the truth is that signs for the so-called “Great Teacher Resignation” were evident way before the pandemic.

Staff shortage could be explained by wage gap
Economic Policy Institute

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wage gap for teachers grew from 7.1% in 1979 to 22% in 2018 before improving slightly to 19.2% in 2019. This means teachers earned just 80.8 cents of every dollar similar college graduates earned in other professions. But the problem isn’t just compensation: There are other factors like burnout syndrome, increasing class sizes and poor funding that led to strikes across the country between 2018 and 2019, before the pandemic stroke. Then, of course, there are the school shootings.

School districts all around the country will have to find creative ways to retain their staff. Recently the Jasper ISD announced that they are switching to a 4-day school week during the 2022-2023 school year and teachers will receive professional development and other resources on Fridays. And according to CW33, more school districts are adopting the plan, especially in rural areas where retaining staff has proven to be a challenge.

But payment might be the key factor for employees. KERA News reports that Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin ISDs are offering incentives to persuade teachers to apply and keep the educators they already have. 

Local Profile reached out to school districts in Collin County for comment on the local situation, but as of publishing, hasn’t yet received responses.