FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2022
New Study Provides Solutions for Texas’ Teacher & School Staff Retention Crisis
Meanwhile, the House Public Education Committee meets for two days without invited testimony from Texas educators.
HOUSTON – Nearly 43,000 Texas teachers left their job in the last school year, and a new report from the Texas American Federation of Teachers outlines needed solutions to stem the tidal wave of resignations as back-to-school season approaches.
The study, entitled “Texas Needs Teachers! Voices from the Field,” presents the findings from a series of focus groups conducted in Dallas, El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley, in addition to two virtual options attended by well over 100 Texas teachers. Texas AFT coordinated with Battelle for Kids, a national education non-profit, to conduct the focus groups.
Nearly half of the recommended solutions identified by Texas educators concerned working conditions, followed by needs for greater compensation and affordable, robust healthcare benefits. Solutions range from actions needed at the local level to measures that should be taken up by the Texas Legislature.
Among the solutions identified by Texas teachers in the focus groups:
- Increase the ratio of staffing and instructional support to increase teachers’ ability to service every student’s unique learning needs.
- Decrease the amount of time required for non-learning tasks.
- Create paid mentor programs for new professionals. Allow experienced educators to grow others within the profession and receive financial rewards.
- Include teacher voice in state and district policymaking.
“These results reveal that compensation matters a lot, but working conditions appear to matter even more,” said Karen Garza, chief executive of Battelle for Kids. “We need to elevate the profession and create the conditions for many more young people to want to become teachers.”
The report emphasizes the importance of educator voices in decision-making and policy development. Notably, the report was released as the House Public Education Committee began two days of meetings on a variety of topics with educators themselves notably underrepresented.
“Right now, the House Public Education Committee is meeting for two days in Austin about a slew of issues facing our public education system. You know how many educators Chairman Harold Dutton invited to testify before committee members? One,” said Zeph Capo, president of Texas AFT. “You wonder why so many are leaving the profession? You wonder why our teachers and school staff don’t feel respected? Here’s your answer.”
The Texas focus group findings echo a national American Federation of Teachers report, “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? What America Must Do to Attract and Retain the Educators and School Staff Our Students Need.” Together they note that no single solution can keep qualified educators in their jobs. Instead, politicians need to listen to educators’ voices, and these two reports are filled with actionable requests of the Texas Legislature.
Two legislators, Rep. Ron Reynolds and Rep. Jon Rosenthal, along with state comptroller candidate Janet Dudding, attended the event and signed on to the education union’s Respect Pledge and vowed their public support for increased public education funding.
Following the press conference, Texas AFT members participated in a two-hour “Summer School” event to organize, learn how to best get their voices heard, as well as launch their “Respect Us or Expect Us” campaign for the 2022 November elections and 2023 legislative session.
“In the big scheme of things, when I listen to our support staff having to decide on feeding their families, unable to cover medical expenses, or splitting mortgage payments, it truly saddens me,” said Chikita Washington, a paraprofessional in Cy-Fair ISD. “Ultimately, who suffers in this debacle? The students.”
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.