East Texas school districts brainstorm teacher shortage solutions

East Texas school districts are coming together to address the nationwide teacher shortage.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 1:20 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2022 at 4:39 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas school districts are coming together to address the nationwide teacher shortage.

On Tuesday, The University of Texas at Tyler School of Education held an event with representatives of partner school districts, Tyler Junior College, Kilgore College and Trinity Valley Community College to receive input and share ideas to address the shortage of teachers. More than 38 East Texas educators attended the meeting.

UT Tyler was awarded a $50,000 planning grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop an innovative program to increase the number of certified teachers in East Texas and the state and strengthen the educator training pipeline.

UT Tyler School of Education director Dr. Frank Dykes said the university applied for the grant to help the East Texas school districts reaching out. “My phone would ring weekly, and they would say ‘Do you have anybody who can teach English’ or ‘Anybody who’s coming out that can teach math?’ so just the critical mass of people giving us calls and saying, ‘Look we need help.”

According to the American Federation of Teachers, 43,000 educators left the field in Texas last year.

“The week before school started Houston ISD was looking for 800 teachers and that was the week before school began. We didn’t have that many, but I would say anywhere from 200 to 300 openings just within the East Texas area,” Dykes said.

“There’s such a shortage that everybody is fighting for the same people, especially in the East Texas area,” Palestine ISD Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Eiben said.

Dykes said the meeting is a way to hear from the school districts and come up with a plan. For example, creating a residency model. “Doctors have had residency models forever so looking at that maybe putting teachers in a classroom as a residency model to allow them to get that experience and also to fill those classrooms that need teachers.”

Dykes said the university will use the input from Tuesday’s meeting to create a plan that will be submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. If approved, UT Tyler will apply for an additional grant to then implement the program.