Like Maryland, states across the country are grappling with staffing shortages and challenges in public education. Here, we explore some of the unique policies states are considering to address teacher hiring and retention.
Teachers are leaving the profession at a concerning rate around the country, and hiring new education staff remains a major challenge. Combined with the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, local education agencies (LEAs) are facing a perfect storm scenario around the country.
Here’s how some LEAs are meeting the challenge.
Rural Texas and Arkansas LEAs embrace a 4-day school week
- A number of small, rural LEAs in Texas will adjust to a 4-day school week for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. The change is in an en effort to “primarily to help retain teachers and students.”
- In one Texas school district, parents and staff were surveyed about the idea of switching to a 4-day school week; 66% of parents were in favor of doing so, and a staggering 98% of staff were.
- Earlier this year, some central Arkansas districts voted to do the same, to “encourage students to come in, as well as help parents and our faculty that have been dealing with COVID…”
- The move is also expected to help the school districts save on operational costs for the LEAs on things like school bus fuel, especially during raising fuel costs.
South Carolina considers paying college majors to become teachers
- A bill in the Senate of South Carolina proposes paying college students under certain scholarship programs that are majoring in education a yearly stipend.
Education majors in the state who receive LIFE Scholarships could receive up to an additional $2,500 a year under the proposed legislation, until they complete their program, and up to $3,300 a year for education majors with a Palmetto Fellows Scholarships.
The state currently provides a similar stipend for math and science majors; the education major stipend would mirror that existing program.
Alabama empowers teachers via its budget
- Alabama lawmakers recently passed a series of measures aimed at providing bonuses and financial incentives, as well as increased resources for that state’s public education teachers.
- Included was a significant investment in public education via the state’s next fiscal year’s budget, which “includes significant raises for most public school teachers, while a series of legislation would expand resources for classroom supplies, open new routes to licensure for teacher candidates.”
- Under the proposed budget, Alabama public teachers could see up to a 21% pay raise and more money to use for classroom supplies (typically an out-of-pocket expense for teachers).
- Specifically, “Teachers with one to nine years’ experience will get a pay raise of at least 4%, possibly more if they’re jumping up a step on the salary schedule. Those with nine years’ or more will get a higher percentage raise. Public school employees received a 2% raise for the current school year.”
Indiana boosts efforts to hire and retain special education teachers
- The Indiana State Board of Education recently approved a series of policies to strengthen hiring and attraction of special education teachers, amid a simultaneous staffing shortage and increase in students with specialized needs.
- Policies include establishing an alternative route to special education licensure and two new special education “transition to teaching programs” for bachelor’s degree holders who are interested in becoming special education teachers.
Maryland tests a variety of policies
In Maryland, local school districts have tested and implemented a combination of the policies discussed above. Several LEAs have also attempted to address the state’s teacher shortage via financial incentives like retention and hiring bonuses, while others have increased minimum pay for school support staff. Others have adjusted school calendars to incorporate more administrative days off and teacher wellness bonus days.
School staffing challenges was also a topic of concern during the 2022 legislative session, during which several initiatives to boost hiring and retention of school staff were considered and one bill was passed to provide support staff with $500 bonuses in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 and to study the issue of staffing shortages and pay.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more on trending topics in public education and relevant issues for county government.