Texas A & M Chancellor John Sharp is appropriately expressing an urgency about the need for Texas to fill desperate shortage areas as in bilingual education, special education, and mathematics. We should drill down further and make the case for an even more severe need for special education-bilingually-certified teachers given that many of our bilingual learners are also in need of special education services.
Moreover, in light of state-approved Ethnic Studies courses, this is another major shortage area where the demand for these courses will be predictably enormous. I have reached out to the Texas Education Agency to see if they can list Ethnic Studies as a critical shortage area so fingers crossed...
Finally, we need to fund Grow Your Own (GYO) educator programs such as the kind directed by the Agency to the Oso Independent School District and fund hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals to become teachers in their communities and thereby address the equally problematic factor of retaining Texas teachers in the profession. Ample research shows and experience tells that if they come from their communities and return to them, they are likely to stay in their communities because of their already demonstrated deep commitment to them. This reduces district costs by increasing their rates of retaining them.
Both the University of Texas Center for Education Policy that I direct and the Texas AFT have organized a press conference today at 1PM at the Texas State capitol on a bill for growing our own educators—which would respond to what the Chancellor is calling for. It takes place in the Speakers room (2W.6). If you cannot make it, please consider reaching out to your senator or representative, asking them to support House Bill 3893 authored by State Reps. Ana-María Ramos (D-Dallas) and Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) and companion Senate Bill 2425 authored by Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio). Thanks to Ana Pomar, for sharing.
Kudos to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dennis Bonnen for making teachers the top priority this legislative session.
Teachers work hard every day to make a difference. They positively impact the future, and they deserve our support. Giving them all a raise is a good start.
I certainly hope it will encourage more young Texans to consider becoming teachers — and help keep more experienced teachers in the classroom — because Texas faces a teacher shortage.
Why there's a shortage
Data from the Texas Education Agency shows Texas faces an increasingly tight supply of teachers. Since 2009, K through 12 student enrollment is up by 14 percent, while the number of teachers has risen by less than 9 percent. Meanwhile, Texas has seen a 14 percent drop in the number of initial teacher certifications in the past decade.
We’re trying to turn those numbers around at The Texas A&M University System with We Teach Texas, a systemwide campaign to focus attention on our 11 education colleges across the state and encourage more Texans who care to become teachers.
The 11 education colleges in The Texas A&M University System graduate more fully certified teachers than any other public university system in Texas. We’re also No. 1 in producing certified teachers in mathematics, as well as bilingual and special education.
imply put, we teach Texas. If you are interested in becoming a teacher, we are committed to your success.
A&M-Corpus Christi's role
For example, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s focus on preparing teachers for Texas public schools recently earned a $220,000 grant from the Texas Education Agency. The Grow Your Own Grant will support 10 prospective teachers at the Island University to specifically work for the West Oso Independent School District upon graduation and certification.
This grant will provide $15,000 to each of 10 Island University teacher candidates, along with funding for certification testing, and textbooks. West Oso ISD was chosen as a partner school district based on its need in critical areas including math, science, Spanish, and bilingual education. Graduates of the program will agree to work at West Oso ISD for at least three years.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi offers a unique teacher preparation program with certification pass rates that surpass the state average (97 percent for educator certification and 100 percent in content area certification in 2017). A bilingual public school located on campus serves children in pre-K through fifth grade and provides a hands-on experience and observation opportunities for education majors. In addition, partnerships with more than 50 schools across nine districts provide the strongest support and training network of any educator preparation program in the region.
The Texas A&M University System has been providing highly qualified teachers for Texas schools for more than 100 years by encouraging consideration of teaching careers, growing the highest-quality teacher and leadership programs and providing ongoing quality support to boost retention in the field.
The need for dedicated teachers across South Texas is constantly growing.
Teachers are on the frontlines of building our economy, and they are enablers of young people who want to see their dreams come true. We take our charge to prepare them for the classroom on Day One seriously.
To learn more about becoming a teacher, visit www.WeTeachTexas.org.
John Sharp is chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.