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How do we solve a teacher shortage? This state task force has ideas

Texas teacher task force recommends better working conditions, pay
Texas teacher task force recommends better working conditions, pay 02:25

NORTH TEXAS ( – Better pay, more reasonable workloads, and increased support are the main themes of a new report released Friday by the Teacher Vacancy Task Force Governor Greg Abbott commissioned to find solutions to the growing teacher shortage.

"We wanted a list that was actionable, that was not overwhelming," said Josue Tamarez Torres, a 4th grade Dallas ISD teacher who served as chair of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force.

The group's report, released Friday, includes 8 recommendations broken down into specific actions.

Compensation is a major theme.

The report calls on state lawmakers to "fund a significant increase in overall teacher salaries", "reduce the cost of healthcare insurance for teachers", and offer "incentives for special education and bilingual education teachers" whose specialties are in greatest demand.

"There are teachers in some of our districts that finish teaching our kids, and they put on a Walmart uniform or they work for UPS and they don't get home until probably 10 p.m., 11 p.m. I have seen it," said Tamarez Torres.

The report also addresses teacher workloads recommending the legislature fund a "time study" of all the duties of teacher. The results, the task force hopes, could be used to adjust schedules and job requirements so that they "can be reasonably accomplished in a normal 40-hour work week."

The task force took on two topics CBS News Texas has reported on – the absence of reliable data on teacher vacancies and the penalty school districts pay when they hire retired teachers.

It's recommended the legislature fund the development of a statewide teacher employment web application to make finding and applying for job easier and to provide real-time data on teacher vacancies. 

It's also called for a temporary subsidy to cover the surcharge districts pay the Teacher Retirement System of Texas for each retiree they employ full-time, a circumstance that's become increasingly common as older teachers who retired because of the COVID pandemic grow more comfortable returning to the classroom.

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