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Recruiting teachers challenge for districts

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Ellis County Press

ELLIS COUNTY - Officials say recruiting teachers is among the top challenges facing school districts in the state.

'We started school with a teacher in every classroom,' said Red Oak Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Miles Broughton during a board meeting in September. 'Some districts in Region 10 did not.'

Citing figures obtained from the State Board of Educator Certification, the Texas Education Reform Caucus states teacher shortages will reach an estimated 45,000 out of a total teacher workforce of 250,000 this year. Caucus members are proposing new legislation intended to ease the shortage.

'We want to give local school districts the flexibility to find new ways to ensure that students have the most knowledgeable teachers on specific subjects,' said caucus member Sandy Kress, a former Dallas ISD school board president. 'Students deserve to be taught by the best teachers available and teachers are entitled to have the tools they need to perform at their highest potential.'

The proposal endorsed by the caucus would, among other things, make it easier for qualified non-traditional teachers to be hired in the classroom. In other words, individuals with a baccalaureate or higher degree who pass the state's EXCET tests would be allowed to teach in their areas of expertise.

'Every school is having difficulty recruiting teachers,' said Waxahachie ISD spokesperson Candace Ahlfinger. 'All districts would be open to whatever the legislature would do to help'

The caucus is also calling for expanded accountability, such as requiring schools to show how well they rank in areas outside of TAAS, including college readiness; foreign language; math/science proficiency; and rankings on national tests and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests.

'We have the country's best education accountability system,' says Rep. Kent Grusendorf of Arlington, founder of the caucus. 'We have dedicated teachers. We have students who are outpacing their peers nationally.'

But Grusendorf says Texans shouldn't become complacent.

'The reforms we've implemented during the past decade are now shining a bright light on the work we need to do now,' he says.

Grusendorf is a member of the House Public Education Committee.

Ahlfinger says WISD will be watching the legislature closely during its upcoming session.

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