One state is looking to punish teachers who abandon their jobs by revoking teacher certificates to stave off teacher shortages.
Everywhere you look, there is talk of a looming teacher shortage crisis. Whether or not the reports are true, one thing is certain: states are addressing the issue head-on. States like New Mexico have called upon the national guard to act as teachers in schools. Indiana is looking to pass legislation to entice more teachers in the state by reimbursing residents’ college and tuition fees if they stay in the state to teach. And now, Texas is joining the growing list of states finding creative ways to address the problem. As a means to stave off teachers abandoning ship, Texas is cracking down on teachers who have quit their jobs throughout the past year as they threaten to revoke more teacher certificates than ever before.
The announcement came from KXAN following the state’s decision at the beginning of January to enact a task force to investigate Texas’ teacher shortage. The group was directed by Governor Greg Abbot and commissioned to assess the situation while finding “teacher-shaped” resolutions that may lead to policy change recommendations. The group is compromised of leaders in all walks of public education throughout the Lone Star state. So far, the task forces findings have led to one assumption: a massive overhaul of teacher certificates may be needed.
According to data collected by the task force, school districts across the state have sent in an alarming amount of requests for the state to consider suspending or even revoking teacher’s certificates in regards to job abandonment. This uptick in requests is the largest the state’s department of education has ever seen. And according to districts, this uptick has sounded an alarm statewide.
Pflugerville Independent School District trustee Jean Mayer said that going forward, the district would be holding staff more accountable for job abandonment, as it is the public school’s students that suffer the most when teachers quit their posts. In the past, the State Board for Educator Certification was in charge of deciding to suspend teacher certificates. Generally, their contracts would have been suspended for a year if they left their contracts to teach at a school. Board member Mayer said that this year was the first time her district had to report such a request to the state board.
According to reports from Mayer, a former mather teacher at John B. Connally High School was just one of eight teachers the district reported. The math teacher that allegedly quit cited a student who brought a weapon to her classroom as the reason for her resignation. But as teachers already know the responsibilities put on them before stepping foot into a classroom, this abandonment is seen by Mayers, and many others, as a cause to suspend teacher certificates.
But not everyone believes that the answer to addressing teacher shortages in the state is to revoke teacher certificates. People like Paul Tapp, an attorney for educators in the state say that suspending accreditations will not solve the problem. He, like many others, believes that the task force should instead focus on the reason so many teachers are abandoning their contracts in the first place.
As the Education task force continues its examination into the teacher shortage in Texas, the State Board for Educator Certification has already implemented some official changes to how teacher abandonment issues are handled. They recently changed the ruling as to what qualifies as “good cause” for teachers to resign in the middle of a school year. Under the new rules that work in favor of the employees, there are four added mitigation factors that the board must consider when ruling whether or not to revoke teacher certificates. But as new legislation continues to roll out placing stricter scrutiny on districts and their educators, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more rulings in the future regarding the abandonment of teachers’ posts inside classrooms.