Louisiana Teacher Shortage Sounds the Alarm: “Fewer Teacher Candidates Than Ever” | Education



Louisiana’s teacher shortage is worsening with increasing retirements, the number of new teachers plummeting and superintendents increasingly finding it difficult to fill classroom jobs.

The ranks of students at LSU School of Education have plunged 57% in the past decade and 39% in the past five years, according to figures provided by the school. The retirements of teachers and other school staff increased by 25% from 2020 to 2021, according to data compiled by the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana.

Doris Voitier, superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish School District and a 50-year veteran in the profession, said today’s education landscape is unlike anything she has seen. “I have never had such a hard time staffing our programs properly as I did last year,” said Voitier, who is also a member of the state council for primary and secondary education.

While African Americans make up about half of Louisiana’s public school students, only 5% of teachers are black men.

Officials from other school districts tell similar stories.

The Livingston Parish School System, which reports shortages for all positions, said officials recently attended a job fair at the University of Southeast Louisiana that typically attracts around 40 ‘education students. This time, less than 10 showed up.

The Ascension Parish School District has 37 open teaching positions in 18 of the 31 schools in the district, said Jackie Tisdell, spokesperson for the high-level system.

The number of retirees is 88, compared to 73 last year.

West Baton Rouge Parish School District Superintendent Wes Watts said his system struggled to find special education teachers – a common refrain both in Louisiana and across the country that also applies to math and science teachers.

“We are seeing fewer teacher candidates than ever at all grade levels,†Watts said.

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It’s not a new problem.

Education leaders have said for years that the number of teachers is declining for a variety of reasons: salary, classroom conditions, and sort of negative aura around the profession.

“Everyone knows that nobody wants to be a teacher anymore,†Cynthia Posey, director of legislative and policy affairs for the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, told BESE.

In 2010, a total of 610 undergraduates were enrolled in the LSU School of Education.

Only 260 are registered this year.

K-12 pensions fell from 2,144 for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020 to 2,686 a year later.

Nationally, the number of education degrees awarded fell 22% from 2006-19 despite an overall increase in the number of graduates, according to legislative figures.

Teachers in public schools in Louisiana are paid an average of $ 50,923. That’s $ 4,007 less than the regional average.

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State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said 50% of teachers leave the profession after five years and over 60% after a decade. “Retention is definitely a hurdle that needs to be explored,†Brumley said.

The shortage has a direct impact on everyday learning.

In total, 23% of teachers are not certified or teach outside of their area of ​​expertise, according to figures provided by the state Department of Education.

Education officials have taken a number of steps to address the problem.

The state has made it easier for mid-career professionals to enter the classroom, and the list of teachers who have graduated through non-traditional means is growing.

Prospective teachers are required, as seniors, to spend a year in a classroom working with a mentor, a rule designed to address complaints from novice educators that they were not ready for the job.

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While teachers in public schools may get their first substantial salary increase in six years, low salaries are not a glaring problem for new teachers.

The Ascension Parish School District is launching an eight-week recruiting marketing campaign in the Baton Rouge and Hammond markets, including a teacher career fair on November 17.

Officials plan to use television, streaming media, social media and digital ads to find teacher candidates.

An expert group called the Teacher Recruitment, Recovery and Retention Task Force is studying the issue and has met three times this year.

Susannah Craig, deputy higher education commissioner involved in the study, said fewer teachers are entering the profession and many are dropping out.

“We have a leaky talent pool,†said Craig.

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Poorly performing public schools typically face the greatest shortages.

“I’m really interested in how we’re moving the talent pool, especially to schools where our students need it most,” said Holly Boffy, a member of BESE, who lives in Lafayette and is the former teacher at the year.

The task force is expected to release its first report when BESE and the board of directors hold a joint meeting on December 15 and to state lawmakers by January 14.

BESE member Ronnie Morris, who lives in Baton Rouge, said officials must clarify the urgency of the teacher shortage when they submit their annual funding request to the Legislature.

Morris said the goal is to “see what kind of legislation we might come up with that would encourage people to pursue this career path,” a reference to the teaching profession.

“We all know the problem is there,†he said. “We have to solve it.”


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