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Texas teachers drop out more often, report finds | KTA

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AUSTIN (Nexstar) — New teachers in Texas are leaving after their first year at increasingly high rates, a problem education advocates say is contributing to labor and staffing issues.

In 2010, there was a 100% retention rate for first-year teachers, according to a 2021 teacher workforce report from the University of Houston and the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation. Since then, this number has steadily decreased, with 49.8% of teachers leaving after their first year.

The National Education Association and the National Parent Teachers Association drew attention to the issue at a press conference on Thursday, stressing the need for more resources and support from educators.

“It was a challenge even before the pandemic, when experts predicted annual shortages of more than 100,000 teachers – the result of low pay, high stress, crumbling schools and difficult working conditions,” said NEA President Becky Pringle.

Elisabeth Meyer, a special education teacher at Austin ISD, said she and a number of her colleagues are considering following a different career path because the challenges are getting too much to bear.

“We have to bear the burden of social problems. We have students in our classrooms who need counseling and psychological support that we are not ready to accept,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see this because we want the best for our students and we want them to be healthy.”

One in four teachers in America planned to quit their job by the end of last school year, according to a survey by a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group, the Rand Corporation.

“I just need people to start listening to me and understanding that we know what we’re talking about as teachers,” Meyer said. “Because what’s going to happen is all the teachers really love and care about it, we just can’t do it anymore. And we are going to be in a serious crisis in a year or two.

Besides burnout, schools in Texas and across the country are facing shortages due to coronavirus outbreaks, fueled by a surge in the omicron variant. These shortages have caused schools to close, forcing parents and students to quickly change their plans and return to online learning.

“Ninety-six percent of our schools [nationwide] reopened to in-person learning right after the holidays and within a week many of them had to close. Not just because of the spread of omicron, but because we just couldn’t get enough staff,” Pringle said.

In addition to teachers leaving after their freshman year, Pringle said they also see masses of educators leaving mid-year.

“It is the tragic consequence of decades of chronically underfunding education and running out of students,” she said.

Since 2010, annual base salaries for teachers in Texas have only fluctuated by plus or minus a few thousand dollars each year.

“When you don’t pay professionals in a way that reflects the important work they do for society, it impacts how they think they are perceived by society,” Pringle said.

The Texas teacher workforce report gave a long list of recommendations based on the findings — many of which suggest the state invest in more data collection and analysis to better understand these trends and better inform policy development.

A key finding from teacher mobility and retention found that educators were more likely to move to better-funded campuses with students from more affluent economic backgrounds.

“Texas teachers are more likely to move from campuses with higher levels of economic need than from campuses with lower levels of economic need. This trend is worrying because it leaves students most
particularly vulnerable,” the report says.

While the NEA, the PTA, and the report all highlighted the far-reaching issues facing educators, all noted that the issues end up hurting far more than teachers.

“If we don’t address the welfare of educators, the welfare of our students will suffer,” Pringle said. “Their learning, their growth and development and whether or not they will succeed and become those leaders we know they need to be – those critical thinkers, those problem solvers – we know the impact that will have on our students. “

Texas teachers drop out more often, report finds | KTA

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