Teacher shortages require simple solutions

December 14, 2022


Mars Canepa

Substitute teacher Mahalak Shmi works at her desk while standing in for Special Education teacher Patrick Howe.

All across AISD, classrooms are crowded and teachers are overworked. Recently, there has been a teacher and sub shortage, mainly because AISD is paying teachers way less than a teacher could get down the street in another district. Teacher shortages really started to be a problem coming out of the pandemic, where teachers had to do everything online, with minimal student effort. 

Some other contributing factors are less undergraduates going into the education field, pandemic stress causing early retirement, and heavy workloads with minimal rewards. With all of these issues, it’s hard for teachers to make education a permanent job. AISD has acknowledged the teacher shortage and has to know the problems behind it, but they still haven’t really made any changes. 

Someone could argue that AISD is making steps in the right direction, with a 2022-2023 budget made to offer retention bonuses and pay increases to teachers, custodians, bus drivers, and counselors. However, the $1.898 billion budget was passed in June 2022, and there are still teacher vacancies, and classes are bigger than ever. 

The obvious solution to this issue is giving teachers raises which would give them the incentive to continue the profession, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. AISD has hired lots of new district employees who make the big decisions but has neglected teacher pay for the most part.

AISD does have a 2022-2023 Updated Compensation with opportunities like “Hard to Fill” stipends and sign-on bonuses to entice teachers to join AISD, but veteran teachers leaving has picked up momentum, and it might take a while to put a stop to it. 

Some other things AISD has considered that could work are turning two vacated properties into teacher and staff housing, to using affordable housing as a way to keep employees because their salaries can’t keep up with rising housing costs. This may help, but won’t completely slow down the absences.

Another solution is possibly making a program that could help start off aspiring teachers get their bachelor’s degree or teaching permit, depending on the situation. Individuals could apply for a loan of sorts that could help them become a teacher, giving them a steady dependable job. This wouldn’t be like a full-ride scholarship, just enough to push people in the right direction, and once they are done meeting the requirements to be a certified teacher, they could have a ready position in AISD.

Teachers are a crucial part of society, and without them, no one would be where they are now. Teachers are kid’s first supporters and their source of almost everything they know. AISD has to solve the shortage problem quickly, or this generation will be at a learning disadvantage. 


Shortages hurt the entire student body

Across the nation, there is an extreme amount of teacher and substitute positions that have yet to be filled. The lack of positions being filled is even worse in bigger cities, the salary is not nearly close enough to be able to live while still paying rent and personal expenses. 

Not only is this hard on other teachers who have to help their co-workers and take on more students, but it affects the learning of the future generation. No teachers mean no learning.

Having a teacher shortage is a huge problem, but not having enough subs is as well. Teachers are unable to take sick days off or time off because there is no one to watch their class to help students learn.

 In many cases teachers who do miss school, do not have subs to cover their classes. The students end up being split into other teachers’ classrooms.  

This impacts learning on many levels for students as well because they are not used to having more students in their classrooms. Also, the fact that students are not learning the same type of material presented by other teachers means that they are on their own. Some students feel uncomfortable with new people in their surroundings that they are not used to. 

Money is a huge factor when it comes to teaching. Without a partner or somebody else in the household providing a substantial amount of money, it becomes very difficult to live off a salary of around $37-77k per year. This is especially true in large, popular cities where it keeps getting harder for teachers to pay for rent and to start settling down to have families. 

Not only is this just affecting teachers but students who come to school to learn. Without an education provider and only a vaguely explained lesson on Blend to cover what is being taught, it’s hard to understand the subject being taught fully with no other guided learning.

 I personally run into these situations multiple times, where there is no teacher or sub so we had to go to the gym or library, which is not an ideal spot to learn. 

In other cases, I have subs who are teaching courses way above their curriculum level. When the person who’s teaching the subject doesn’t understand there’s no way for the students to get a full grip on it. 

Some people do not believe that teacher pay is what is causing this and that the pay they are receiving at the current moment is more than enough. There are multiple reasons for this incorrect assumption, from summers off to the level of education. Which is understandable, but aren’t teachers the ones who inspire students to persevere in careers in the medical industry as well as many other high-paying careers? Without teachers, there’s no way students can continue to learn and grow.

 Personally, I don’t think this issue is going to resolve until teachers get a large pay raise, which will attract newcomers into the career knowing they can do things they enjoy while not having to worry about money. 

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