Skip to main content

Recap: Joint Public and Higher Education Committee Interim Hearing

September 23, 2022

The Texas House Public Education Committee and Higher Education Committee met in a Joint Hearing on Tuesday, September 20. Committee chairs framed the discussion on improving the climate for teachers in the state and stated that the day’s testimony would lead to written legislation for the upcoming 88th Legislative Session.

The committee members heard from different panels regarding teachers. Links to available presentations are below:

  • It’s not just a Texas issue, but a national one.
  • What is the role of TEA and SBEC to address the teacher shortage?
  • Are we preparing teacher candidates to become high-quality educators?
    • Dr. Jonathan Schwartz (Dean of the College of Public Services, University of Houston Downtown)
    • Dr. Michael O’Malley (Ed.D. Dean of the College of Education, Texas State)
    • Dr. Fernando Valle (Department Chair, College of Education, Texas Tech)
    • Dr. Clifton Tanabe (Dean, College of Education, University of Texas at El Paso)
    • Abbie Harper (Director of University Partnerships, Texas A&M University-Commerce)
    • Anthony Hernandez (Executive Director of Urban Teachers)
    • Dr. Diann Huber (iTeach)
    • Dr. Justin Lonon (Chancellor, Dallas College)
    • Trent Beekman (CEO, Texas Teachers for Tomorrow)
    • Danny Massey (Superintendent at Brazosport ISD)
    • Kristi Kirschner (Chief HR Officer, Brazosport ISD)
    • Dr. Vincent Solis (President of Brazosport College)
    • Rebecca Hampton (Senior Education Specialist – Inspire Texas, Ed Prep by Region 4 ESC)
  • How are schools recruiting high-quality teachers amid the shortage?
    • Scott Muri (Superintendent, Ector County ISD)
    • Dr. Roosevelt Nivens (Superintendent, Lamar CFISD)
    • Chris Mayes (Superintendent, Beatrice Mayes Institute)
    • Mike Miles (Superintendent, Third Future Schools)
    • Dave Lewis (Superintendent, Rochelle ISD)
    • Pamela Awbrey (Chief Talent Officer, Compass Rose Public Schools)
    • C. Michele Martella (Executive Director of SPED, Comal ISD)
    • Dr. Lizdelia Pinon (IDRA Bilingual Education Associate)
    • Patrick Powers (Teacher, Denton ISD)
    • Tonya Davis (Regional Manager, DISYS)
  • What are the barriers to retired teachers who want to assist with the shortage?
    • Brian Guthrie (Executive Director, Teacher Retirement System of Texas)
    • Brock Gregg (Associate Director Strategic Partnerships and Outreach, Texas Retired Teachers Association)
  • From their mouth to the Legislature’s ears: A Teacher Perspective.
    • Dr. Selena Fenceroy-Smith (8th Grade Science, Kealing Middle School)
    • Marissa Castanon-Hernandez (Theatre, Wayside Sci-Tech Middle School)
    • Yvette Pena (English/Social Studies Teacher, Teach Plus Senior Policy Fellow)
    • Honorary Seale Brand (School Board Trustee, Orange Grove ISD)
    • Brandon Jenkins (SHI Fellow, University of Houston Downtown)
    • Lisa Parker (Gym Teacher, Spring ISD)

National perspectives anchored the conversation with an initial overview of teacher workforce data. Panelist, Dr. Stephen L. Pruitt, emphasized that 54% of parents are attempting to talk their children out of becoming a teacher, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach to the teacher vacancy issue. Education Commission of the States shared that Texas is currently experiencing a 10% teacher turnover rate which is not just an education issue but also a workforce issue. This could lead to a 20% teacher turnover rate by 2030 if trends continue and improvements are not made to the teaching profession. Dr. Marder with the University of Texas’s UTeach program provided an estimate of the current teacher vacancy crisis stating there is a vacancy of roughly 10,000 teachers.

Throughout the hearing, members of the committees asked questions to panelists about teacher recruitment and retention, teacher workload and compensation. Panelists such as Superintendent of Ector County ISD, Scott Muri, recommended increasing the basic allotment given to schools as it supports schools in recruiting and maintaining high-quality teachers.

Members of the committee heard from different education preparation programs representing different approaches in educator preparation across traditional and alternative certification programs. Chairman Dutton commented that alternatively certificated teachers were disproportionately represented in the teacher workforce across the state. He suggested examining the current retention rate of 67% among alternatively certified educators and consideration of mentorships as a support and method to diminish high turnover. Representative Huberty added that many alternative certification programs have non-traditional students, suggesting that paying students to get an education or creating scholarships would allow older or second career students to remain in and complete teacher programs.

Representative of the Teacher Vacancy Task Force and Dallas ISD Master Teacher, Josue Tamarez Torres, emphasized that teachers are the single most-important factor in student success. Mr. Tamarez Torres shared updates from the Teacher Vacancy Task Force, which has been tasked with understanding challenges facing teachers, best practices to retain teachers, and developing recommendations for the legislature. The task force aims to have recommendations finalized for the legislature by February 2023, for the 88th Legislative Session.
Deputy Commissioner of Educator Support at TEA, Kelvey Oeser, shared findings that there is a strong pipeline of teachers, but the key challenges to retain teachers include pay, training, and working conditions. TEA also provided recommendations to the joint committee members, suggesting ways to expand training models, increase compensation, and expand support for districts in scheduling and institutional materials. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shared information about their loan repayment programs available for teachers.

Listen to Representative Talarico’s questions about how to bolster teacher certification to support residency models and ensure teachers are prepared for the classroom.

Among the teacher vacancy issue, there are specialties that are hard to fill for student needs including Special Education (SPED), bilingual educators, and math and science teachers. Panelists on the panel dedicated to discussing recruitment of teachers in hard-to-staff subjects elaborated that teachers are charged with providing services to students and are held closely accountable to provide these services. Panelists shared that teachers hold the complete burden of making the current system work which does not work well for students with disabilities and complex needs. Some suggested considerations from panelists to committee members included removing the penalty of the retire rehire in SPED for at least 3 years.

Listen to further discussion on the specific recruitment challenges in hiring and retaining bilingual educators from Dr. Lizdelia Pinon.  

The full meeting is available to watch here. No additional hearings are scheduled at this time but as the legislature prepares for the upcoming 88th Legislative Session, beginning in January 2023, more discussion is expected in the remaining interim months.  

Are you a foundation looking to invest and engage in public and higher education research and advocacy?

Become a Member