Tag: teacher shortage
MONTGOMERY — A bill that would create a new tier of improved retirement benefits for education employees passed the Alabama House unanimously on Tuesday, but some lawmakers still wonder if the change should apply only to K-12 classroom teachers. Read more.
With just 15 days before students arrive for their first day of school, the Birmingham Board of Education approved hiring more than 60 teachers.
As a result of the approvals, Birmingham City Schools has filled all but 11 of the 150 teacher vacancies that were identified at the end of the 2018-19 school year, school Superintendent Lisa Herring announced during a special called board meeting July 23.
Herring said that, in the face of a teacher shortage, successfully filling almost all of the teaching positions was an important moment to acknowledge.
“That is extremely significant,” Herring said. “There are teacher shortages across the entire state.” Read more.
Read more BirminghamWatch reporting on the teacher shortage:
Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Chuck Marcum needs more teachers.
Specifically, he needs more educators who are certified in the subjects they’re teaching. But during a teacher shortage that some say has reached a crisis level in parts of the state, Marcum and others hope lawmakers will let them keep non-certified educators in their classrooms longer.
“The education colleges are turning out great teachers, just not enough of them,” Marcum said Friday. “Even if we hired all of them, it wouldn’t be enough.”
Hundreds of schools each year hire educators on a one-year emergency contract. The educators must have a bachelor’s degree, but no education training or experience. After that year, the individual can’t have another emergency contract with a school anywhere in the state.
Senate Bill 304 would change the word “emergency” to “urgent” and allow the contracts for up to six years.
Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, said he sponsored the bill after watching his daughter’s high school struggle to fill a physics teaching position.
His bill would make it easier for professionals with real-world experience and ability, but not a certificate, teach for longer, Chambliss said. Read more.
Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff will make a series of recruiting trips to Alabama’s education colleges looking for the best new teachers for his schools.
He’ll try to sell candidates on what his small, rural district can offer them.
There are $4,000 signing bonuses for high school math and science teachers and special education teachers in any grade.
There are attendance bonuses for all employees. Perfect attendance gets $400 at the end of the year.
Kallhoff has even taken steps to help new teachers find homes, putting together a list of area landlords happy to rent to them.
Some of the benefits for teachers aren’t monetary. For example, the system runs a “teacher bus” between its four schools at the end of the school day, picking up children and taking them to their educator parents.
Alabama has a teacher shortage that educators say has reached crisis level, especially in rural areas, and there are fewer new teachers coming out of colleges. So, Kallhoff and other superintendents are doing whatever they can — whatever their budgets allow — to attract and keep educators. A state task force also has been studying the shortage and possible solutions to it.
Even with the $4,000 signing bonus, something not all systems can afford to offer, Kallhoff has had a special education position open for more than a year.
Systems need help, he says.
“There need to be some statewide initiatives,” Kallhoff said. “We’re quick to give tax breaks to large corporations. Why not a tax break for math, science and special education teachers?” Read more.
The number of new teachers coming out of education colleges and programs in Alabama fell by about 40 percent comparing 2010-2011 and 2015-2016, according to the latest available federal data.
The decrease could be worse nearly three years later.
“What bothers me most is that I don’t think this has bottomed out yet,” said Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the University of Alabama’s College of Education.
“It’s basically a decline everywhere with the possible exception of elementary education,” he said.
As education leaders and elected officials look at the state’s teacher shortages, its pipeline of new teachers is a major concern.
“I have 100 certified teachers,” Roanoke City Schools Superintendent Chuck Marcum told BirminghamWatch. “Fifteen have 25 or more years’ experience, meaning they could retire now. I hope they don’t. I don’t know what we’d do.”
Marcum is leading a task force of educators and education groups studying the shortage’s causes and potential solutions. He said a shotgun approach will be needed, including getting more students into colleges of education.
“Even if we increase enrollment, it’s three, four years down the road (that we see results), but it needs to be done. Something has to change.”
A 2015 federal report said 17 percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first five years. Read more.
More Stories on the Teacher Shortage
Education leaders cite changes to teachers’ retirement benefits six years ago as a factor in Alabama’s worsening statewide teacher shortage.
Now, they’re asking lawmakers to make adjustments to what’s known as Tier 2 benefits, including allowing retirement after 30 years of service and slightly increasing the benefit amount. Legislators say they’re listening but aren’t convinced retirement changes alone will fix classroom staffing.
“Do I think modifying Tier 2 is going to solve our teacher shortage issues? No,” Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa said this week. “But we do want to make sure we are competitive on benefits.”
Poole is chairman of the House education budget committee.
Evidence of the teacher shortages around the state is plentiful, but concrete numbers are not. A task force set up to study the shortages, the causes and possible solutions hopes to have some recommendations to lawmakers this spring. Last week, BirminghamWatch reported that there recently were more than 1,700 educators in Alabama classrooms who were not certified in the core subjects they were teaching.
“Our superintendents identify the current Tier 2 retirement plan as a contributing issue in the shortage of teachers we are facing today,” Ryan Hollingsworth, executive director of Alabama School Superintendents, said this week. “It is a fact that we have teachers graduating from colleges of education in Alabama but going to work in other states strictly due to our current Tier 2 retirement plan.” Read more.
Alabama’s teacher shortages are reaching crisis level, education leaders say.
In the 2017-2018 school year, there were more than 1,700 teachers in grades seven through 12 who were not certified to teach the English, math, social studies, science or special education classes they were assigned, said Ryan Hollingsworth, executive director of School Superintendents of Alabama. Some of those teachers may have a one-year emergency certificates or are “teaching out of field,” meaning they’re certified in other subjects.
“I would call it a crisis that today we’re sending children to schools where 1,700 teachers aren’t certified in the subject they’re teaching,” Hollingsworth told BirminghamWatch recently.
There aren’t enough new teachers in the pipeline, Hollingsworth said. The state’s education colleges recently graduated just more than 500 new educators to teach the core subjects that are being taught by more than 1,700 uncertified teachers.
“We’re seeing fewer people go into education for various reason,” he said. “It’s a crisis.”